The creation of the Apollo AL7 Pressure Garment is one of the great American stories of the past forty-plus years. […] NASA turned the creation of the spacesuit into a competition (largely dominated by military contractors)—and it was assumed a military contractor would win the day.
Instead, pitted against the military-industrial complex, Playtex created the 21-layer spacesuit, each layer distinct yet interrelated in function to the rest of the whole—a masterly combination of elegance, complexity, and form. […] Traditional engineering firms could not figure out how to meet all the mission requirements and create a functioning suit that would keep the Apollo astronauts alive. The seamstresses at Playtex, with their years of experience fashioning girdles and bras, could, and did.
It was the same materials. It was bras in space. It was literally the same materials that were used in the bra-making process. The straps from bras were reused to hold the thing into shape and the Nylon fabric that a bra-cup is made of was used to give strength to the Latex so that it didn’t expand under air pressure. Then the Latex itself was the same, as they say it started out as exactly the same Latex as went into the girdles […]
Read the complete interview at The Credits with Nicholas de Monchaux author of Spacesuit FASHIONING APOLLO.
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International Latex Corporation (ILC) , aka Playtex, eventually spun off the spacesuit division as ILC Dover, which continues to make space suits, isolation garments, and other high strength inflatables including the Mars rover airbags.
As Popeye might say … ain’t history faxkinating?