Inspired by Adam Savage’s almost-authentic Mercury spacesuit—but lacking about $8,000—I decided that I would make my own NASA flight suit for my first Halloween as an elementary school principal. I ordered a bunch of authentic Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo mission patches from the NASA gift shop, plus my own name badge. I bought a flight suit from the army-navy store in North Conway, then invested in a pair of black boots. (I reasoned that I’d need them this winter, but they don’t seem terribly warm. Oh, well).
That stuff was relatively cheap and easy to get, especially since I started in summer and took my time. The only trouble was the helmet. They don’t make replica space helmets. The only ones online look like crap. I did find this video for a paper mache DIY space helmet, and figured it would be my best bet.
I didn’t do quite as good a job as the kid in the video. The soda bottle faceplate was tough to work with. The paper mache started easy, but rapidly got hard to control and I ended up with a bit of a lopsided mess. Still, the taplights inside the helmet look kinda cool, I guess, and now I’ve got a costume as well as an educational conversation piece for Halloween. I’ve been giving away the two dozen or so extra patches to kids since the beginning of the year, so that was kind of a good investment; the Apollo 15 patch is the best looking of the entire set, and now some kid probably has it shoved at the bottom of his backpack. Then again, maybe he’s got it in a safe place. Regardless, I decided to narrow four missions to honor on my suit:
• First American in space, Apollo 14 commander, and New Hampshire native Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7.
• Gemini 4, which had the first American spacewalk.
• Apollo 11, obviously.
• And STS-61, the first Hubble telescope repair mission.
I also have a big NASA patch, plus an American flag for the shoulder. I should have ordered a larger one, but waited too long and even the army-navy store didn’t have anything bigger.
Anyway, here’s the “build” for the helmet. Again, this was not a good time, but I finished.