Making the Apollo Space Suit
The design processes behind a giant leap for mankind
“An excellent addition to the existing literature on this subject. . . . [We can] hope that current space suit designers are reading Ayrey’s book and learning the lessons it has to teach.”—Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly
“Ayrey’s details fascinate. . . . Photos and engineering design diagrams add helpful visual detail to the text. This accessible, anecdote-packed history will please many an astronomy buff.”—Publishers Weekly
“A space suit: a miniature space craft, so well designed for Apollo missions as described in this book. Excellent throughout, so comprehensive, so enjoyable.”—Michael Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut
“This is the story of the ultimate space suit for lunar explorers; a garment that evolved over many years of experiment and development; a garment that protected me five times during extravehicular excursions into the vast unforgiving hazards of space exploration, including three days on the surface of the moon.”—David Scott, Apollo 15 commander
“A unique and comprehensible history of a group of men and women who undertook the challenge to create a space suit that would allow humans to explore another world for the first time.”—Cathleen Lewis, coauthor of Spaceflight: A Smithsonian Guide
“A detailed and engaging account of how a group of engineers and seamstresses from a small company built the first and only suit used on the moon. A remarkable book, indispensable for anybody interested in the Apollo program.”—Pablo de León, University of North Dakota
Neil Armstrong in a space suit on the moon remains an iconic representation of America’s technological ingenuity. Few know that the Model A-7L pressure suit worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts, and the Model A-7LB that replaced it in 1971, originated at ILC Industries (now ILC Dover, LP), an obscure Delaware industrial firm.
Longtime ILC space suit test engineer Bill Ayrey draws on original files and photographs to tell the dramatic story of the company’s role in the Apollo Program. Though respected for its early designs, ILC failed to win NASA’s faith. When the government called for new suit concepts in 1965, ILC had to plead for consideration before NASA gave it a mere six weeks to come up with a radically different design. ILC not only met the deadline but won the contract. That underdog success led to its greatest challenge: winning a race against time to create a suit that would determine the success or failure of the Apollo missions—and life or death for the astronauts.
A fascinating behind-the-scenes history of a vital component of the space program, Lunar Outfitters goes inside the suit that made it possible for human beings to set foot on the moon.
Bill Ayrey was a space suit test engineer and company historian at ILC Dover for over forty years. He spent more than 140 hours pressurized in the Space Shuttle EVA suit, testing the many components, during its years of development. Over the past twenty years, he has assisted the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in preserving the suits within its collection.
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