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Smithsonian exhibition lands at the History Center.

Smithsonian exhibition lands at the History Center.

Tampa, Fla. (970 WFLA-TBHC) -Suited for Space, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution featuring images of spacesuits that helped launch the American space program, opens at the Tampa Bay History Center.

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy declared the United States would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. To achieve this ambitious goal, astronauts would need not only a spacecraft to launch them safely into space, but a spacesuit that would protect them. Without the proper clothing to keep them alive while traveling, living, and working beyond the bonds of Earth, space exploration would not be possible.

Suited for Space, a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum opens Feb. 1 at the Tampa Bay History Center. This one-of-kind exhibition takes visitors on a journey through nearly a century of spacesuit design and development, from the earliest high-altitude pressure suites to the iconic white suites of the Apollo mission.

The exhibition features large-scale photographs of suits worn by astronautsfrom Project Mercury through the Skylab program as well as images of suits used in testing and training. In addition to the photographs by Smithsonian photographer Mark Avino, the exhibit includes new X-ray images that provide a unique view of the interiors of the spacesuits. While the fragility of these spacesuits prevents them from traveling, the exhibition will feature a replica Apollo spacesuit on loan from NASA and objects from the National Air and Space Museum’s collection, including a glove, a boot and several helmets. Avino’s photographs provide a visual timeline of the spacesuits’ development over the years.

As part of the opening day on Feb. 1, Bill Ayrey, Quality Test Lab Manager and Company Historian for ILC Dover, will be on hand to answer questions about the spacesuits from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. ILC Dover has made all of the extravehicular space suits for NASA since they began flying on-board the Apollo missions in 1968. ILC Dover continues to make the space suits to support the International Space Station.

Suited for Space is at the History Center through April 27

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