Forty-two years after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, the bulky, crinkly white spacesuit he wore remains an icon of the space age. While the suit was engineered by NASA to meet exacting technical standards, it was actually assembled by underwear seamstresses. This is just one intriguing aspect of spacesuit design that’s documented in the new book “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo,” by Nicholas de Monchaux.
When NASA first engineered the suits for the Apollo missions they wanted them to have a cold, hard, mechanical look. But the shell-like suit prototypes they produced, which made astronauts look like the Michelin Man, weren’t especially comfortable or flexible. So NASA used layers of lighter materials stitched together. The special twenty-one-layer assembly they devised had nylon inside for comfort, teflon outside for protection, and rubber-dipped fabrics in between to withstand pressure.
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