Designing The Motion Picture’s Spacesuits

The company Brick Price Movie Miniatures (BPMM) provided more than 1,200 of the props used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, including phasers, tricorders and biorhythm belt buckles.

Their most recognizable creations, however, may have been the spacesuits worn by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy during Spock’s spacewalk.

The task of designing the spacesuits was originally given to Paramount’s in-house prop department, but they came up with helmets that looked old-fashioned.

Relations were further strained when Robert Abel, who had brought in Brick Price, left and was replaced by Douglas Trumbull as head of visual effects. The company was forced to write a letter to the studio detailing its involvement with Abel and explaining why things took as long as they did.

According to Price, the reason was that Paramount kept changing the shooting schedule and kept demanding changes.

One version of the spacesuit was rejected because it smelled horribly and the actors would not have worn it.

“We had originally designed the spacesuit for air conditioning, so you wouldn’t have a problem with fog on the faceplate and also for the comfort of the actors,” Price told Star Blazers Magazine later.

We were trying to make this thing as functional and realistic as possible, even to using parts from the real suits. We had a system for the arm with the joints so you couldn’t see anything and it was real clean, not a vacuum cleaner hose like in Robby the Robot, either.

The studio did not agree:

Then instead they went with quilting, and I didn’t much care for that.

Another spacesuit Brick Price designed was for workmen who were called “neutrino welders.” Nobody could figure out exactly what “neutrino welders” did. Weld neutrinos?


Glad you have the good size image of the “Neutrino Welders” suit design. “Neutrino Welders” turned up in a few of the early Richard Taylor Astra Image storyboards of the drydock scenes, showing them with some workbees floating nearby that they used to get to where they were working outside the ship.

While it was not elaborated on, I would retcon that they used neutrino beams from their welder equipments to bombard parts of the ships spaceframe or skin with neutrinos to fuse the parts together from the inside, since neutrino can pass through solid matter easily.

I would envision they would theoretically get differently charged neutrino beams to shoot through the parts and intersect (sort of crossfire of beams) from their wielder tool(s), which would basically making the two parts one at the subatomic level at the weld location.

At least that’s my fan theory that I am using when I get to 3D modeling these down the road.

lestatdelc (Oct 10, 2018)

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