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KOIN: PSU professor reveals top secret suit
Author: Tim Becker
Posted: November 5, 2012

See the original story on KOIN here.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Cameron Smith knew at the age of 10 what he wanted to do with his life: "I was convinced that I was going to go to space, going to go to Mars -- when I was 10-years-old."

Though he has yet to make it there, the Portland State University anthropology professor and adventurer does have one part of his plan down: a custom-built space suit.

"I can simulate it all right here at home," he says, donning the fully functioning suit. 

Friends call the PSU professor "one of the most determined people" they've met. After all, every zipper, every strap and every seam in this space suit -- something he's stayed fairly silent on until its completion -- was installed by Smith's own hands.

"Every stitch was by hand," he said. "I don't own a sewing machine."

Smith purchased a used Russian pilot's helmet off eBay, and purchased the suit's valves, guages and instruments from a nearby Portland hardware store.

"I walk to Ace Hardware, give 'em my cash," he says, chuckling at the recall of walking home "with parts of a pressure suit."

After three years of continuous crafting, Smith now has a fully functional suit -- built right in his Pearl District apartment. 

"I'm definitely restless," he says.

Whether crossing a frozen ice cap or sailing the Pacific on a handmade pre-Columbian-replica raft, Smith does it for the adventure. The stratosphere, he hopes, is next.  

Smith's plan is to use the space suit he designed to soar 50,000 feet above earth, in a balloon he also plans to build. 

"He likes to test the boundaries," said a friend in KOIN's report. 

After all, for an anthropology professor, this is what life is about: "Figure out a problem, design a solution," Smith said. "That's what humanity has been doing for a long time."