Our Own Personal Spaceships

John Young Salutes

Painting Completed 1986
26 x 20 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

Every human who walked on the Moon did so in his own personal spaceship. We called them spacesuits and they performed brilliantly on all six lunar landings. I painted John Young all bundled up in his. John commented, "I can't speak too highly for the pressure suit. Boy, that thing really takes a beating."

The suit is airtight but it would be limp and useless without the connecting hoses reaching around from the backpack we called the PLSS, the Portable Life Support System. Through one hose flows fresh, life-sustaining oxygen while another removes the used atmosphere and maintains the suit pressure just above 3.5 pounds per square inch. Another hose circulates through small tubes in John's underwear to carry away excess boy heat. Radio communications is provided by another.

Many of the more important functions are monitored and controlled by the RCU, the Remote Control Unit resting squarely on the chest. Finally, a special hose is connected to the suit to give auxiliary oxygen flow in the event the primary oxygen supply were to fail or the suit were punctured and began to leak.

John later observed, "Since it's the only thing between you and vacuum in plus or minus 250 degrees, it's a good piece of gear."

Our space suits were an incredible American technical achievement. They had to reliably provide all the functions of any spaceship, with one small exception - they contained no rocket engine, so we had to utilize our own two legs for propulsion.