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Houston, we have a problem. As we sat down in front of our screen to write this article to celebrate NASA’s 60th birthday, we came across some breaking news from the BBC.
What would once be impossible due to the Cold War, is on today's news: Russian Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague were both on board of a Soyuz rocket. The capsule was going to the International Space Station (ISS) when it started to malfunction. According to NASA, the crew was returning to Earth in "a ballistic descent mode”. Fortunately, the Russian state TV said their lives are not in danger and the capsule has landed safely in Kazakhstan.
——— BREAKING NEWS ———
After that first paragraph full of emotion, let’s get back to the reason why we were here in the first place. Recently, we’ve already done a NASA related article, but this time we couldn’t let this occasion pass unnoticed. Do you know why October 1st 1958 is so important? It’s pretty simple. This is the exact date when NASA (the acronym of National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was founded in the United States. NASA needs no presentation. The independent agency of the United States Federal Government in the last 60 years has been responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
To celebrate this important date, we will be share some of our favorite NASA projects up to date.
1. Apollo XI
We don't want to sound corny, but who hasn’t dreamed of flying to the moon as a kid? So much has been said about Apollo XI in songs, books, movies that we feel a moral duty to consider it our favorite NASA accomplishment. Apollo XI was the name of the spaceflight that landed the first two human beings on the moon. Mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin stepped foot onto the lunar surface July 20, 1969. That's when Armstrong said the famous words: "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind".
In fact, here at Atellani, between the many amazing things we've been collecting over the years, we have a letter written by Neil Armstrong himself. The Apollo XI's commander kindly gives an autographed picture to a fan. As we don't happen to be the one who has the photograph, at least we are happy enough to say we've got the letter!
2. Space Shuttle Atlantis
In 1995 with STS-71, the project Atlantis made seven straight flights to the former Russian space station Mir as part of the Shuttle-Mir Program. STS-71 marked a number of firsts in human spaceflight: The 100th U.S. manned space flight; The first U.S. shuttle-Russian Space Station Mir docking and joint on-orbit operations; and the first on-orbit changeout of shuttle crew. When linked, Atlantis and Mir together formed the largest spacecraft in orbit at the time.
In the photo you can see a celebrative patch that flew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-71 and the Russian Space Station Mir from June 27th to July 7th 1995. This small object was very important: it signified the beginning of a new era of international cooperation in space for the benefit of all humankind. It is also signed by the Atlantis-Mir Commander, Robert “Hoot” Gibson.
3. A Real Astronaut Glove
We like to save the best for last… One of the most difficult parts of the space suit to design are the gloves. Like an inflated balloon, the fingers of the gloves resist the pressure it takes to bend them. Astronauts must fight against that pressure with every movement of their hand, which is exhausting and sometimes results in injury. Furthermore, the joints of the glove are subject to wear that can lead to life-threatening leaks. So if there's any piece of design which is made to be resistant and to have the best performance ever it's definitely astronaut gloves. As a design studio, having one of these masterpieces reminds us daily of just how important good design is.
Other NASA 60th Anniversary Celebrations
Of course we’re not the only ones celebrating this important date. Many designers in the fashion industry are also celebrating NASA’s 60th anniversary. One of them the controversial (thanks to the salty prices) is the collaboration of Heron Preston for NASA. After his collaboration with the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), he has recently teamed up with the space agency to create metallic astronaut jackets and high-tech parkas, as well as accessories such as belts and backpacks.
This NASA Anniversary also calls on a collaboration between NASA and Vans, announced last May, that is due to be released this month. Together with the space agency, Vans created a series of astronaut garment inspired sneakers that are already on the wishlist of many stars and people across the world — including us!