Home » The U-2/SR-71 “yellow” pressure suits were borrowed by NASA for the first space shuttle mission

The U-2/SR-71 “yellow” pressure suits were borrowed by NASA for the first space shuttle mission

by Till Daisd
0 comment
STS-1-Pressure-suits-1

David Clark Company

David Clark Company (DCC) is a manufacturing company based in the United States. DCC is responsible for creating and producing various aerospace and industrial protective equipment, such as pressure-space suit systems, anti-G suits, headsets, and various medical and safety products. DCC has been engaged in the production of protective equipment for air and space crews since 1941, starting with the creation and advancement of the initial standard anti-G suits and valves used by allied fighter pilots during World War II.

DCC’s ongoing research and development of pressure suits, which began in 1946 and was primarily sponsored by the Department of Defense to assist the US Air Force’s high-altitude aircraft programs, such as the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71, led to the creation of a new generation pressure suit in the early 1980s, known as S1031C.

NASA borrows U-2/SR-71 “yellow” Pressure Suits

‘NASA had to borrow some space suits from the U-2 program for the first shuttle mission,’ says Damien Leimbach, former Avionics Technician at the U.S. Air Force (2001–2007), on Quora.

‘The David Clark company builds space suits for NASA, but they also build the iconic yellow pressure suits that the U-2 and SR-71 program uses.

Did you know that U-2 decompression sickness cases increased after the end of the Cold War? Here’s why the iconic U-2 is the world’s hardest plane to fly

‘The program calls them “pressure suits” since they don’t actually fly to space, but they are essentially the same suits that the David Clark company made for NASA.

‘Prior to the first shuttle mission (STS-1), the launch of Columbia, there was a defect detected in the batch of suits NASA was making for the pilots to use. Since the maiden flight of the shuttle mission was also its first real test flight, there was only two crew, a pair of pilots, for that mission.

Why NASA borrowed U-2/SR-71 Pressure Suits

‘However, the suits were not going to be fixed in time, so NASA called up Beale AFB and said “Hey, we need to borrow a pair of space suits.”

‘And that’s why the crew pictures from the first shuttle mission show the pilots wearing yellow suits (high visibility to easily see downed pilots) instead of the iconic NASA white.

Did you know NASA had to borrow U-2/SR-71 “yellow” Pressure Suits for first space shuttle mission?

‘I mean, without the NASA patches, you wouldn’t know these guys weren’t SR-71 or U-2 pilots.’

Leimbach concludes;

Did you know NASA had to borrow U-2/SR-71 “yellow” Pressure Suits for first space shuttle mission?

You can even see the green velcro patches on the thighs where U-2 pilots put their note pads and map boards.’

The David Clark Company Model S1034 Pilots Protective Assembly (PPA) started to replace the previous S1031 in the U-2R in 1996 and is still in use today. It has also been utilized for the NASA ER-2 and WB-57F aircraft.

Photo by NASA and U.S. Air Force

You may also like

Leave a Comment