Arts Playlist: ‘Lunar Outfitters, Making the Apollo Space Suit’
A former ILC Dover employee’s new book examines the company and its work on the space suit that astronauts wore for the first walk on the moon.
Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the Moon, and astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first to walk on its surface.
And the space suit Armstrong was wearing was manufactured in Delaware at Kent-County-based ILC Dover.
One of ILC’s former employees, Bill Ayrey, chronicles the company’s part in making space suits in his new book,“Lunar Outfitters, Making the Apollo Space Suit.”
"It’s a local story about this company that was a real underdog in the race to provide the spacesuits to NASA to walk on the lunar surface," said Ayrey. " When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and the others walked on the moon, they wore spacesuits built right there in Dover, Delaware and in Frederica. The outer cover layers were built in Frederica and the main part of the spacesuits were built in Dover.”
Ayrey spent 41 years working at ILC and during that time he and his co-workers constantly discussed writing a book. He finally took on the project three years ago.
Ayrey says ILC was an underdog in some respects that it didn’t have the rigor that NASA sought in systems and quality engineering, especially compared to other aerospace companies.
“The company faced a significant amount of challenges because they were a division of Playtex - that made the bras and girdles - and even though the engineers and the folks that really worked on the spacesuits had nothing to do with the development of the bras or girdles, it was interesting that a lot of the ladies that did the sewing came from the Playtex side,” said Ayrey.
The book is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.