On October 4th, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1--the first artificial satellite to ever leave the earth’s surface. Almost a month later, on November 3rd of the same year, a Russian street dog named Laika became the first animal to orbit the earth. Finally, on April 12th of 1961, Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union became the first human to leave earth’s atmosphere. In the months and years that followed, both the USSR and the US achieved a number of other milestones all leading up to the July 20th, 1963 moon landing of Apollo 11.
What does the space race have to do with recliners? More than you might think! You see, the space race lead to a number of unforeseen inventions and innovations--for example, memory foam, the weather satellite, and the ballpoint pen are all spin-off technologies created because of the space race. The zero gravity chair is one more example of this!
According to NASA’s official website, the concept for zero gravity chairs first originated in the Skylab orbital space station in the mid-1970’s. Several astronauts living on the station took notice of the fact that the human body took on a stet posture in the lack of gravity--and that that posture was different from the way humans normally sat on earth. The Johnson space center began collecting data on the human posture in zero gravity, and the findings were eventually published in the NASA Anthropometric Source Book.
A number of furniture companies began developing chairs based upon this technology almost immediately, marketing them as furniture that “reduced pressure...to support a natural, stress-free posture.” In recent years, this idea has been verified more and more as research has revealed that the regular sitting posture actually leaves a great deal of stress centered on the back.