Fun fact: Spacesuit worn to Moon was made by a bra company

Credit: NASA

Astronauts are synonymous with science, space and the future: pretty much the definition of coolness. That facade might be shattered by a singular, somewhat humbling tidbit about Neil Armstrong's A7L spacesuit (yes, the very one he wore when he took that "one giant leap"

The A7L was a supremely high-tech garment that warranted the creation of a unique Teflon-coated, glass-microfiber fabric dubbed "Beta cloth" to be used in its outer layer. After a spacecraft caught fire and killed three Apollo astronauts during a 1967 ground test, researchers made sure Armstrong's suit could withstand 1,000 degree conditions. Twenty one layers of synthetic fabric also allowed Armstrong to survive in the airless lunar/solar environs and radically shifting temperatures.

But all that fabric also meant limited movement, a huge problem encountered when making a spacesuit that needed to protect its wearer, maintain a constant pressure and be flexible enough to let Armstrong go about his astronaut duties. That meant turning to the rubber garment engineers at the bra-making division of the International Latex Corporation.

They were able to fashion a movable joint called a "convolute" out of nylon tricot-reinforced neoprene, which let the astronaut bend, flex and move around without wasting too much energy. And for the final effect, tension-absorbing steel aircraft cables made sure the suit didn't collapse on itself, or on its occupant.

So next time you see a bra, you don't have to wince; know that same genius landed the first man on the moon.

Smithsonian, via boing boing

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