Travelers passing through Hobby Airport will enjoy new eye candy showcasing why Houston is affectionately dubbed “Space City.” The recent installation of a new exhibit comparing two generations of spacesuit design will help connect NASA’s iconic past to Johnson Space Center’s next giant leap.
On the left of the Hobby Airport display, visitors will see a high-fidelity replica of a shuttle-era spacesuit, right down to the NASA “worm” logo. On the right is an identical counterpart to the suit used today on the International Space Station. For passing visitors, the exhibit serves as a bold welcome to Space City USA, symbolizing Houston’s leadership role in human space exploration. For curious travelers with a few moments to spare between flights, they will discover an evolution of engineering.
“The two spacesuits are the superstars of this display,” said Exhibits Program Manager Jack Moore of Johnson’s External Relations Office (ERO). “Using scrap materials and replica parts slated for disposal, David Hughes in the EVA [Extravehicular Activity] Office meticulously assembled the suits. He handcrafted each suit to look as though it was pulled right out of an official NASA photo from the era. No detail was overlooked—the color of the visors, glove configurations and period-specific patches—all lend credence to its authenticity.”
Assembling the display required a close working relationship between ERO and the EVA Office to get the details just right. While the ERO provided creative direction and craftsmanship to build the exhibit and safeguard the priceless artifacts within, the EVA Office was invested in ensuring the accuracy of the spacesuits and content, as well as finding the perfect home for the display.
“The case’s contemporary design was drafted by the late Larry Friend, an amazing talent and wonderful man on the COMIT [Communications, Outreach, Multimedia, and Information Technology Contract] Exhibits team,” Moore said. “The COMIT team completed his work by integrating elements to support the preservation of the suits, such as vented fans and museum-grade Lexan. Cindy Bush, our graphic designer on the project, also worked closely with the EVA Office to draft beautiful designs to convey the story. Using a visual timeline across a sloped face of the display, she highlighted major component modifications through the decades.”
The EVA Office was over the Moon about the finished display and recognized the entire Exhibits group in the weeks leading up to installation at Hobby Airport.
“We’ve worked over the last year or so with the [COMIT] team on designing displays that tell the story of EVA,” said Chris Hansen, manager of the EVA Office. “Their creativity and passion for the work they do is very evident in the products they produce. They understand that these displays are inspirational, and you can tell that they put their hearts into the work they’ve done for us. It’s great to have such a talented resource available to us—a resource that cares as much about the products they create for us as we do.”
While travelers taking to the friendly skies will be swept into a 3D visualization of explorers who have donned these types of spacesuits to explore even higher trajectories, there are still other stories to be told. The Moon is center stage once more, and generations young and old are waiting to be a part of NASA’s next big adventure.
The Hobby Airport exhibit is only one example of how we can highlight the important work done every day to support humans in space. As Moore explained, the team works with many organizations throughout the year to create exhibits that share the many facets of the center with the public.
“We have an incredibly talented pool of designers, craftsmen, project managers and writers waiting to start the next exciting project,” Moore said.