Gentlemen, they are floating in space
ARTMAGEDDON - Igan D’Bayan (The Philippine Star) - September 25, 2013 - 12:00am

It’s my first time to meet an astronaut,” I tell Mark Polansky, a former space explorer for none else but NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

“Well, it’s my first time to meet somebody from The STAR (laughs),” he answers back. The STAR, get it?

Polansky joined NASA in 1992 as an aerospace engineer and research pilot. He flew on three Space Shuttle missions — STS-98, STS-116 and STS-127 — and has logged over 309 hours in space. By the way, this is not Mark’s first time in the Philippines.  

“I was actually stationed in as an Air Force pilot at Clark Air Base from ’83 to ’85,” he says. “It’s cool to be back.”

Lots of cool things about this particular astronaut. The eyewear he is wearing — a Titan Minimal Art glasses by Silhouette — is the lightest eyewear on planet Earth. Arguably in the universe, even. It’s lighter than a ping-pong ball. The glasses weigh 1.8 grams, while a ping-pong ball tips the scale at a whopping 2.7 grams. 

“It’s made out of titanium and is minimalistic in design,” points out Andreas Grof, Silhouette Asia-Pacific Ltd. managing director. Grof says he is in the country once every six weeks, working closely with partner-company CP Optics. “And it has kind of revolutionized the eyewear industry (when it was first launched in 1999). As you can see there is no hinge anymore, so it fits every head because of its natural tension.”

And, by the moons of Jupiter, these glasses have no screws. Wearers won’t get screwed up by screws becoming loose or rusty. “Thus, you have to go back to an optician for after-sales service. Our frames are maintenance-free.”

Something essential to the ground-controllers and skywalkers at NASA. NASA has chosen Silhouette frames because of lightness and their screw-less design. This goes without saying: nothing must get loose in outer space. No siree, Bob. 

When the space shuttle Atlantis launched into outer space in July 2011, Titan Minimal Art by Silhouette eyewear got onboard as well, its 35th trip into space so far. The Austrian eyewear manufacturer (launched in 1964) has been flying with NASA astronauts into outer space and accompanying them in their daily work in weightlessness.

“And our eyewear is rimless. We want Silhouette to be the most comfortable around, that’s why it’s light and rimless. (Wearers) should be able to see in any direction without any boundaries, without any frames. Pretty much as normal as wearing no eyewear at all.”

Cate Blanchett and astronauts would agree. (Cate, by the way, is Silhouette’s celebrity endorser.)

“I brought it to outer space,” informs Polansky. “When NASA partnered with Silhouette in 1999-2000, I was training for my first flight as an astronaut. When the time came that I needed glasses, NASA offered a selection — and I wound up with a pair of Silhouettes. They felt great and I went to space with them.”

Polansky says this is crucial: when you have to wear something for a long time, especially in space, it’s best to stick with something secure.

“As you are doing dynamic motions in space, you don’t have to constantly worry as to how they fit or adjust. And, at the same time, they are so light and so comfortable.”

Mark wore Silhouette eyewear for three different missions in space, different pairs over the years.

“I’ve worn them since 2000. Even now (as a retired astronaut), I put them on first thing in the morning and I wear them all day. They have almost become an extension of me to the point that I don’t even notice I’m wearing them.”

Grof agrees. “Eyewear so light you don’t even feel them. It has happened to myself quite often — me standing under the shower, washing my hair and noticing I am still wearing my glasses (laughs).” 

Polansky finds it amusing. “That happens to me as well (laughs).”

Heck, in space no one can see you beam with comfort.

* * *

Titan Minimal Art glasses by Silhouette are available at Sarabia Optical, George Optical and other major optical shops. For information, visit www.silhouette.com

 

AIR FORCE ANDREAS GROF CATE BLANCHETT CLARK AIR BASE EYEWEAR POLANSKY SILHOUETTE SPACE TITAN MINIMAL ART
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