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ILC Dover recalls its role in moon landing

Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media

The First State company that helped put the first man on the moon is joining the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. 


ILC Dover made the space suits worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their historic 1969 trip to the lunar surface. The company’s staff also dressed the astronauts, performed suit checks and helped get them into the Saturn V rocket that launched them. 

And ILC Dover took time Thursday afternoon to honor past and present employees for their hard work and dedication to that mission and their role in space exploration. 

Nicole Scott, a retired NASA astronaut, was the keynote speaker. 

Among those in attendance was Ruth Ratledge, a seamstress on the crew that made the suits. 

“I was very sure that I was able to do whatever they wanted me to do. So, we were all called in case something was wrong with the testing, night or day it didn’t matter when it was that we were able to go. There was very little repairs that we had to do.”

Credit Rachel Sawicki / Delaware Public Media
Delaware Public Media
Former ILC president Homer Reihm, retired NASA astronaut Nicole Scott and ILC president Fran DiNuzzo help mark the company's role in the Apollo 11 moon landing

ILC President Fran DiNuzzo says while they love to celebrate history, it’s the future that excites them.

“I wanted our current employees really, to get a sense for how historic it was, how difficult it was. We’re an innovation company, and for them to be able to touch and feel and see and understand  the level of innovation and what went on at this company 50 years ago in addition to what’s going on today. That was really what was important.” 

DiNuzzo adds ILC is currently working to play a role in a future Mars landing. DiNuzzo says the biggest challenge they face in creating those suits is dealing with heat and radiation involved in visiting the “Red Planet.”

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