Up until this very day space travel has been devoid of giant hamster balls designed for people. Many have argued for years that the only way to truly explore the vast, cold emptiness of space is with large rolling bubbles that look like they have Cthulhu beards that could be manipulated by human legs and feet.
This experimental suit, named the SX-1, was designed by Engineers from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Resources Laboratory. The suit was presented to NASA personnel in 1964, and the meeting was probably filled with the NASA people all dressed in their white short-sleeve shirts, black ties and crew cuts as they chain smoking cigarettes in a failed attempt to do something with their mouths that masked their laughter. Instead, they ended up puffing out rings of smoke that spelled out “HA-HA-HA-HA!”
The SX-1 was “designed to give astronauts the ultimate in mobility as they rambled on the lunar surface.” What we ended up getting out of this was a few mildly entertaining moments in the 90s as we watched young 20-somethings roll down steep hills in large inflatable balls on during a Road Rules competition. Of course, I casually mention Road Rules as if it were still a thing that people remember existed.
Another feature of the suit was the spacesuit that was built in to the bubble that allowed the astronauts grab and walk freely if they chose/needed to. Sadly, we don’t have a picture of what a person would look like if they had their arms and legs in the arm and leg thingies, but we’re going to speculate that they would have looked like the love child of a snail and some Ziplock bags. If Neil Armstrong plopped out of the lunar lander carrying a shell of transparent near-nothingness, and then encountered an intelligent alien race, they would think we were a highly evolved species of snail. If we were to bring the aliens down to earth to enjoy our perfect jalapeno poppers, they would glance over to our gardens and ask if those shelled slimy things moving at a snail’s pace (yes, they, too, would have that expression) were our cousins. We would say no, and then call them morons. We’d be extinct 2 hours later. But, damn it, we don’t take kindly to strangers calling us gastropods. We may have all died, but at least we showed the universe that we don’t take no guff.
And what’s science if we can’t take some rocks from one place to another? As you could guess, if you wanted to touch a moon rock with your bare hands you would have to re-enter the lander. The SX-1 solved this problem, allowing the user to place the rocks in an on-suit airlock chamber that allowed the astronaut to bring the material in to the bubble with him. This was accomplished by placing the air lock chamber in the middle of the chest, between the arms. So every time an astronaut would place a rock in the chamber, it would look like he were trying to safely feed his Quato while in the vacuum of space. The airlock also looks like the most aggressive and sickening outtie belly button in human history.