The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure

Training Jr. Astronauts, Scientists & Engineers


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Astronaut Training in High School

Training High School Astronaut Tiger Teams for Mars Missions

Eleven female students attending McBride High School in Long Beach Unified School District took up the challenge of becoming fellows in the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures program offered by the Barboza Space Center.

Due to the STEM focus of McBride High School, students have become familiar with a wide and impressive range of 3D printers, computer numerical control (CNC) machines, powerful computers, computer-assisted design (CAD) software, computer aided engineering (CAE) software and new robotic tools that are updated often. Students familiar with such equipment are often hungry for opportunities to apply their knowledge in creative ways.

Members of the NASA Tiger Team pose for a quick picture

The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures is an astronaut preparation program that involves academically and linguistically diverse students in working together on simulated NASA Tiger Teams to solve challenges that are faced by NASA and private space companies attempting to travel to and live on Mars. During the week of July 22nd through July 26th, the Barboza Space Center delivered an individualized space science program curriculum designed for young women who want to become engineers, scientists, and astronauts. We integrated Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards into unique project-based learning experiences that drew on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, design, World and computer languages (STEAMD++).

The Barboza Space Center creates simulations of training for astronauts interested in working on Earth and Mars. An important goal is to offer space science fellowships to promising high school students, 10% of whom are students with special needs. The Center provides uniforms, STEAMD++ materials, books, individualized astronaut tool kits, and project lesson plans. Training materials integrate content from Advanced Placement textbooks and NASA manuals.

Under the tutelage of K-12 educators and professional engineers, participants apply what they have learned to design satellites, robots, science probes, Martian habitats, and rocket payloads.

To measure content learned during the Fellowship week, all students completed Tiger Team pre- and post-testing. In addition, each developed a portfolio including two PowerPoint presentations and an audio podcast related to Mars to be posted to Kids Talk Radio Science. These products contrasted in striking ways from pre-test responses to questions about the planet Mars—a subject about which students originally knew very little. Students demonstrated that they could reverse engineer and reconstruct a rolling Mars rover robot. Their eye-motor coordination was assessed throughout the five days of our program, and results were recorded, along with project notes, in individual lab notebooks begun by students in a previous Fellowship. Students were expected to use legible handwriting and to communicate using Morse code—important skills in the event of a communications emergency.

Our space science Fellowships are designed to inspire students to learn and apply new knowledge, to continue to follow their passion through and beyond post-secondary school, and to understand the critical importance of working collectively. By functioning as Tiger Team members, they trained their knowledge and skills on the tremendous challenges of reaching and building a community on Mars. In doing so, many discovered entirely new areas of interest, and all developed a hunger for more opportunities to explore and create in the future.

To listen to the podcasts created at Super School University as part of the new international STEM and STEAM project-based learning opportunities, check out the links below.

Kids Talk Radio China

Kids Talk Radio Russia

Kids Talk Radio Australia

Kids Talk Radio Cabo Verde 2


Bob Barboza is an educator, STEM Journalist and the founder of Super School International University and the Barboza Space Center for Science and Engineering Prototyping. As Director of the Barboza Space Center, Bob is excited to get students around the world excited about working together and  studying STEM and STEAM project-based learning as they pursue careers in the aerospace industry.

 


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We are looking to fly drones on Mars

Does anyone have any good ideas?   Take a look at this solution.  What do you think?  Suprschool@qol.com

Experts Baffled: Innovative “Auto-Pilot” Selfie Drone Conquers the World. The Idea Is Genius…

07/29/2019|

Never before has it been easier to fly your own drone. Even totally inexperienced users from The United States start flying this drone within minutes…

When drones first started being sold in The United States, they were simply too expensive and hard to fly. However, Blade 720, a revolutionary new drone for beginners and professionals, is now available in The United States at a fraction of the usual cost.

Summary of Article: Many consumers have dreamt about owning a drone for years, however found that whenever they found one they liked, it would cost them way too much money and be too hard to pilot. However, with the arrival of Blade 720 to the scene, drones are now finally affordable and easy enough to fly – even for the most non-technical of consumers in The United States – 50% off…

We analyze the brand new Blade 720 drone that has just hit the market in The United States. Did this new up and coming startup really make a drone that lets the masses have access to awesome cinematic aerial footage and selfies?

Finally available to the public

Historically, drones of this caliber have been restricted to professional licensed drone companies or the military. However, with the latest advances in technology, even “normal” citizens like our editoral team or you can enjoy this amazing piece of technology, without having to go through any kind of exams!

At first glance, it’s evident that Blade 720 is compact. It folds into itself for easy storage and can be transported from A to B before it takes flight. However, don’t let its size fool you. While it’s small, Blade 720 is powerful yet easy to control with its integrated gravity sensors.

Definitely not just for kids!

Blade 720 is not only a cool toy for children who want to see the world from great heights, but it’s a convenient tool for adults who wish to capture memorable moments such as sporting events or take aerial footage of their vacations, surroundings, homes and properties.

Blade 720 is controlled via an app on your iOS or Android phone. Simply start the app, and begin using your drone with real-time transmissions and controls. The gravity sensor gives you more control over the drone’s flight path, while the track setting even offers you the option to set the drone’s flight path in advance.

How does Blade 720 stack up against competitors?

If you were to compare Blade 720 with several other drones for sale from leading brands, it’s clear to see this drone gives you unprecedented value for money. It’s affordable which ticks one box for the majority of consumers, but the footage is also highly professional and crystal clear. As a result, it’s suitable for use for casual, everyday fun, or for capturing fast-paced motorsport action, and more.

In terms of ease of use, Blade 720 is leading the way. It can be controlled with ease via an iOS or Android phone, and the app allows you to control the speed, gravity, and flight path. Voice control can even be used to help navigate your way through nature, or why not take advantage of 3D VR and watch your drone live with real-time transmission?

Then, when you compare the social aspect of Blade 720, it’s easy to see it’s on-par with leading brands. It supports video clips via your phone app, enabling you to share videos on a range of social media outlets such as Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Google+, and Messenger.

How is the image quality?

Blade 720 comes with an integrated HD camera which will make it extremely easy for you to take some amazing pictures and videos. Yes, you’ve heard right. Unlike other drone manufacturers, they don’t charge you extra for a camera. There’s also an upgrade to an even better camera, which will allow you to take the most cinematic images you’ve ever taken of your vacation, event or simply your vacation. Both images above and below were taken by our readers with the Blade 720 drone. Enjoy!

Features

  • Small and compact
  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with iOS and Android phones
  • Gravity sensor
  • Real-time transmission with HD quality
  • 3D VR and voice control

I love Blade720. It’s the perfect product to take aerial footage for me and my friends!

I can’t believe that they actually sell such a high tech device in the open market!

I was worried that it’d be a bit hard to control, but got the hang of it pretty quickly…

Pros

  • High performance drone, at an affordable price
  • Easy to use
  • High-Definition cameras

Cons

  • Only available while supplies last

Up until very recently, such gadgets were only limitted to military and government agencies. However, with the help of Blade720, anyone can now easily have fun while also taking quality aerial footage of their backyard

UPDATE: This was a surprise…

The Blade 720’s team were really impressed with our article. So, for a limited time, they are offering a 50% discount on your first purchase. Act fast, because this discount is only valid for a limited time. This means that the price to pay to enter the drone revolution is now smaller than ever at only 99.99$.

Drones can be used for movie footage, aerial photography, and more. But who’s to say paying more is going to give you a higher quality product? Purchase Blade 720 at half price with free worldwide shipping, and take advantage of the multiple-buy offers available. 

Click here – Get Your Blade 720 Now & Take Advantage Of 50% Discount and Free Shipping

8.87

EXCELLENT

REVIEWS

This is how our website visitors rated Blade720.

Based on 214 Reviews

Value for money

9.09

Features

8.38

Usability

9.14

 

 


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BBC Micro:Bit Robot Mars Project Training

Getting Started

We have to learn the basics first and then we will move to more advanced robot robot projects on called Mars robot project simulations.  Projects are located in your Astronaut Toolkit  Our students are creating new and more advanced projects and then sharing them with Tiger Team members.  www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com


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Surviving in Deep Space

The Top Five Technologies Needed for a Spacecraft to Survive Deep Space

Artist rendering of NASA’s Orion spacecraft as it travels 40,000 miles past the Moon during Exploration Mission-1, its first integrated flight with the Space Launch System rocket.

When a spacecraft built for humans ventures into deep space, it requires an array of features to keep it and a crew inside safe. Both distance and duration demand that spacecraft must have systems that can reliably operate far from home, be capable of keeping astronauts alive in case of emergencies and still be light enough that a rocket can launch it.

Missions near the Moon will start when NASA’s Orion spacecraft leaves Earth atop the world’s most powerful rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System. After launch from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Orion will travel beyond the Moon to a distance more than 1,000 times farther than where the International Space Station flies in low-Earth orbit, and farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever ventured. To accomplish this feat, Orion has built-in technologies that enable the crew and spacecraft to explore far into the solar system.

Systems to Live and Breathe

As humans travel farther from Earth for longer missions, the systems that keep them alive must be highly reliable while taking up minimal mass and volume. Orion will be equipped with advanced environmental control and life support systems designed for the demands of a deep space mission. A high-tech system already being tested aboard the space station will remove carbon dioxide (CO2) and humidity from inside Orion. Removal of CO2 and humidity is important to ensure air remains safe for the crew breathing. And water condensation on the vehicle hardware is controlled to prevent water intrusion into sensitive equipment or corrosion on the primary pressure structure.

The system also saves volume inside the spacecraft. Without such technology, Orion would have to carry many chemical canisters that would otherwise take up the space of 127 basketballs (or 32 cubic feet) inside the spacecraft—about 10 percent of crew livable area. Orion will also have a new compact toilet, smaller than the one on the space station. Long duration missions far from Earth drive engineers to design compact systems not only to maximize available space for crew comfort, but also to accommodate the volume needed to carry consumables like enough food and water for the entirety of a mission lasting days or weeks.

Highly reliable systems are critically important when distant crew will not have the benefit of frequent resupply shipments to bring spare parts from Earth, like those to the space station. Even small systems have to function reliably to support life in space, from a working toilet to an automated fire suppression system or exercise equipment that helps astronauts stay in shape to counteract the zero-gravity environment in space that can cause muscle and bone atrophy. Distance from home also demands that Orion have spacesuits capable of keeping astronaut alive for six days in the event of cabin depressurization to support a long trip home.

Proper Propulsion

The farther into space a vehicle ventures, the more capable its propulsion systems need to be to maintain its course on the journey with precision and ensure its crew can get home.

Orion has a highly capable service module that serves as the powerhouse for the spacecraft, providing propulsion capabilities that enable Orion to go around the Moon and back on its exploration missions. The service module has 33 engines of various sizes. The main engine will provide major in-space maneuvering capabilities throughout the mission, including inserting Orion into lunar orbit and also firing powerfully enough to get out of the Moon’s orbit to return to Earth. The other 32 engines are used to steer and control Orion on orbit.

In part due to its propulsion capabilities, including tanks that can hold nearly 2,000 gallons of propellant and a back up for the main engine in the event of a failure, Orion’s service module is equipped to handle the rigors of travel for missions that are both far and long, and has the ability to bring the crew home in a variety of emergency situations.

The Ability to Hold Off the Heat

Going to the Moon is no easy task, and it’s only half the journey. The farther a spacecraft travels in space, the more heat it will generate as it returns to Earth. Getting back safely requires technologies that can help a spacecraft endure speeds 30 times the speed of sound and heat twice as hot as molten lava or half as hot as the sun.

When Orion returns from the Moon, it will be traveling nearly 25,000 mph, a speed that could cover the distance from Los Angeles to New York City in six minutes. Its advanced heat shield, made with a material called AVCOAT, is designed to wear away as it heats up. Orion’s heat shield is the largest of its kind ever built and will help the spacecraft withstand temperatures around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit during reentry though Earth’s atmosphere.

Before reentry, Orion also will endure a 700-degree temperature range from about minus 150 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Orion’s highly capable thermal protection system, paired with thermal controls, will protect Orion during periods of direct sunlight and pitch black darkness while its crews will comfortably enjoy a safe and stable interior temperature of about 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Radiation Protection

As a spacecraft travels on missions beyond the protection of Earth’s magnetic field, it will be exposed to a harsher radiation environment than in low-Earth orbit with greater amounts of radiation from charged particles and solar storms that can cause disruptions to critical computers, avionics and other equipment. Humans exposed to large amounts of radiation can experience both acute and chronic health problems ranging from near-term radiation sickness to the potential of developing cancer in the long-term.

Orion was designed from the start with built in system-level features to ensure reliability of essential elements of the spacecraft during potential radiation events. For example, Orion is equipped with four identical computers that each are self-checking, plus an entirely different backup computer, to ensure Orion can still send commands in the event of a disruption. Engineers have tested parts and systems to a high standard to ensure that all critical systems remain operable even under extreme circumstances.

Orion also has a makeshift storm shelter below the main deck of the crew module. In the event of a solar radiation event, NASA has developed plans for crew on board to create a temporary shelter inside using materials on board. A variety of radiation sensors will also be on the spacecraft to help scientists better understand the radiation environment far away from Earth. One investigation called AstroRad, will fly on Exploration Mission-1 and test an experimental vest that has the potential to help shield vital organs and decrease exposure from solar particle events.

Constant Communication and Navigation

Spacecraft venturing far from home go beyond the Global Positioning System (GPS) in space and above communication satellites in Earth orbit. To talk with mission control in Houston, Orion’s Orion will use all three of NASA’s space communications networks. As it rises from the launch pad and into cislunar space, Orion will switch from the Near Earth Network to the Space Network, made possible by the Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, and finally to the Deep Space Network that provides communications for some of NASA’s most distant spacecraft.

Orion is also equipped with backup communication and navigation systems to help the spacecraft stay in contact with the ground and orient itself if it’s primary systems fail. The backup navigation system, a relatively new technology called optical navigation, uses a camera to take pictures of the Earth, Moon and stars and autonomously triangulate Orion’s position from the photos. Its backup emergency communications system doesn’t use the primary system or antennae for high-rate data transfer.

Last Updated: Dec. 4, 2018

Editor: Mark Garcia

 


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Tiger Teams: Helping to Colonize Mars

Scientists are exploring how aerogel, a translucent, Styrofoam-like material, could be used as a building material on Mars.
Aerogel Greenhouses for Mars: Scientists are exploring how aerogel, a translucent, Styrofoam-like material, could be used as a building material on Mars. Aerogel retains heat; structures built with it could raise temperatures enough to melt water ice on the Martian surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Full image and caption ›

Raising crops on Mars is far easier in science fiction than it will be in real life: The Red Planet is an inhospitable world. Among other challenges, subzero temperatures mean water can persist on the surface only as ice, and the planet’s atmosphere offers little protection to plants (or people) from the Sun’s radiation.

Of course, NASA has plans to eventually put humans on Mars, using lessons it will learn from its Artemis lunar explorations. And those humans will need to eat. Being able to produce food on Mars would help reduce the quantity of supplies consuming valuable space and fuel on crewed missions to the Red Planet. But figuring out how — and where — to produce that food, while also being exceedingly careful not to contaminate Mars with Earth-borne bacteria, are some of the challenges scientists and engineers face.

In a new paper in Nature Astronomy, researchers propose that a material called aerogel might help humans one day build greenhouses and other habitats at Mars’ mid-latitudes, where near-surface water ice has been identified. The study was funded by Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Aerogel is a Styrofoam-like solid that is 99% air, making it extremely light. It’s adept at preventing the transfer of heat as well, making it an excellent insulator; in fact, it’s been used for that purpose on all of NASA’s Mars rovers. Moreover, aerogel is translucent, allowing visible light to pass through while blocking ultraviolet light’s harmful radiation. Most aerogel is made from silica, the same material found in glass.

Scientists tested these samples of aerogel to see how they could be used as building materials on Mars.

Aerogel Samples: Scientists tested these samples of aerogel to see how they could be used as building materials on Mars. Credit: Robin Wordsworth/Harvard. Full image and caption ›

In an experiment conducted by lead author Robin Wordsworth of Harvard, 2-3 centimeters of silica aerogel allowed light from a lamp tuned to simulate Martian sunlight to heat the surface beneath it by up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) — enough to raise temperatures on the Martian surface and melt water ice.

“The study was meant as an initial test of aerogel’s potential as a Martian building material,” said second author Laura Kerber, a geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Kerber participated in a 2015 NASA workshop to identify the best places on Mars to send astronauts. “The ideal place for a Martian outpost would have plentiful water and moderate temperatures,” she said. “Mars is warmer around the equator, but most of the water ice is located at higher latitudes. Building with silica aerogel would allow us to artificially create warm environments where there is already water ice available.”

Broadening the regions on Mars where humans could grow things also opens up new areas where they could conduct valuable scientific research, Kerber added.

‘Dark Spots’ on Mars

The aerogel experiment was inspired by the heating process that creates so-called dark spots that dot Mars’ carbon dioxide ice caps during the spring. This kind of ice is better known on Earth as dry ice. Like aerogel, carbon dioxide ice is translucent, allowing sunlight to heat the surface below. As the soil warms, carbon dioxide gas accumulates between the ice and the warm surface, eventually causing the ice to rupture. That, in turn, creates a puff of gas that tosses soil beneath the ice onto its surface.

The experiment explored a similar process with aerogel. The paper details how both a solid piece of aerogel as well as chunks of crushed aerogel can be used to heat the surface below. The researchers used varying levels of illumination produced by Martian seasons. The results suggest aerogel could even provide a heating effect in the bitter Martian winter. In the mid-latitudes, winter nighttime temperatures can be as cold as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius).

The next step, Wordsworth said, is taking the experiment out of the lab and into Martian analogues like Chile’s Atacama Desert or Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys. Like Mars, these environments reach subzero temperatures and are exceptionally dry.

“Our prediction is that aerogel shielding should provide more efficient heating as it scales in size,” Wordsworth said. “That would be important to see under field conditions.”

Challenges to Be Overcome

While the experiment was an encouraging proof of concept, Wordsworth acknowledged there are still significant engineering challenges to overcome. Based on a climate model produced along with the experiment, it would take lots of aerogel and at least two Mars years (or four Earth years) of warming to produce a permanent region of liquid water underneath. Although aerogel is several times lighter than air, building structures with roofs made out of the material would require shipping large quantities of it to Mars or somehow manufacturing it there.

Silica aerogel is very fragile and porous; layering it within another translucent material, or combining it with flexible materials, could prevent fracturing. Doing so could increase air pressure under a structure made with an aerogel roof or shield as well, allowing liquid water to pool more easily on the surface instead of vaporizing in the thin Martian atmosphere.

But the study’s authors noted that developing small habitability zones on Mars is more plausible than attempting to “terraform” the planet, as science-fiction writers have proposed doing in the past. A NASA study last year dashed the hopes of thickening the Martian atmosphere enough to create an Earth-like greenhouse effect.

“Anything that would help make long-term habitability possible is exciting to consider,” Wordsworth said.

More information about NASA’s Mars program is at:
https://www.nasa.gov/mars
https://mars.nasa.gov/

News Media Contact

Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-2433
andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1501
alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

 


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The Women Who Helped to Get the USA to the Moon Part One

The seamstresses who helped put a man on the moon

Even for the people who actually did it, the idea of walking on the moon is still a little hard to comprehend. In 1972, Harrison “Jack” Sschmitt of Apollo 17 became the last man to set foot on the moon.

“Any time you felt a little bit homesick you could just look up and see the Earth hanging over the South Massif. So, it was really a spectacular place to be,” said Schmitt.

“That’s remarkable, looking up and seeing the Earth,” said correspondent Tracy Smith.

“Oh, it’s only 250,000 miles away. That’s home!”

“You’re one of 12 people ever who stood on the moon. Can you get your head around that?”

“Not really,” Schmitt said. “I was honored and privileged to be part of the Apollo program. But like everyone else who was part [of] Apollo program, we happened to be at the right place at the right time with an extraordinarily strong motivation to succeed.”

And they were motivated, from the astronauts waving goodbye on their way to the history books, to the chain-smoking guys in Mission Control. But back in places where the TV cameras didn’t always go, a small army of women was working just as hard at jobs that were just as important.

How the astronauts’ spacesuits were made is a story in itself. Before man could take a giant leap, they needed to solve a few giant problems: In the vacuum of space, without the right spacesuit, an astronaut could blow up like a balloon, or burn up, or maybe get drilled by a micro-meteorite.

When NASA needed a new moon suit, big government contractors, like Litton Industries and Hamilton Standard, made stiff, bulky spacesuit prototypes that often looked like a cross between Sir Galahad and Buzz Lightyear.

early-spacesuit-designs-montage-620.jpg
Early spacesuit designs were anything but flexible. CBS NEWS

What NASA needed was something more flexible, and they found out that no one knew flexible like the people who made Playtex girdles and bras.

Playtex, also known as the International Latex Corporation (ILC), of Dover, Delaware, wasn’t nearly as big as the other suit makers, but they had some pretty radical ideas.

In 1967 ILC came up with a softer, more flexible spacesuit made almost entirely of fabric, and then shot film at a local high school with an employee putting the suit through its paces on the football field.

ilc-spacesuit-put-through-the-paces-620.jpg
An ILC spacesuit prototype is demonstrated – and the kick is good! ILC

In the end, the company won the contract for the Apollo suits, and gave some of their bra-making seamstresses a brand-new assignment.

Smith asked Anna Lee Minner, one of the women who made the suits that went to the moon, if she was told they would be making spacesuits. “They didn’t tell me a thing,” she replied. “They just brought me up here.”

“So, from bras and girdles to spacesuits?”

ilc-seamstress-creating-apollo-astronaut-spacesuit-promo.jpg
When NASA needed a lunar spacesuit for the Apollo astronauts, they turned to the experts – the women who sewed girdles and bras for Playtex. CBS NEWS

“Little pieces like this, to big pieces like this,” Minner said.

Women, it turns out, had the perfect touch, according to ILC project manager Homer Riehm. “The people that sewed the suits were all women, that’s correct,” he said.

And the reason? “Agility.”

And it took plenty of agility: Each suit was comprised of 21 layers of gossamer-thin fabric, sewn to a precise tolerance of 1/64th of an inch on a sewing machine your grandmother might’ve used.

Reihm said, “We were interested in accuracy.”

In other words, there was no room for any mistakes.

Minner said, “I went home on many a night and cried because I knew I couldn’t do it. I was scared. this was a person’s life this depended on.”

ilc-seamstresses-joanne-thompson-lillie-elliott-ruth-anna-ratledge-and-anna-lee-minner-were-part-of-the-team-that-sent.jpg
ILC seamstresses Joanne Thompson, Lillie Elliott, Ruth Anna Ratledge and Anna Lee Minner were part of the team that sent men to the moon. CBS NEWS

In fact, they never forgot that their work could be the difference between victory and tragedy. The women at ILC took their job very seriously. “They may have had the most important job of all, frankly,” said Basil Hero, author of the Apollo account, “The Mission of a Lifetime.” “As Neil Armstrong said, ‘Those space suits were mini spacecraft.’ You were one pin prick away from death. If those suits failed, that was it. You were done.”

So, the women put their hearts into it. Lillie Elliott, who cut the patterns, said at first she didn’t quite comprehend the responsibility of their sewing: “But later on, you know, when you had all these inspections going on, it kind of clicked in your head, you know, I gotta do this right.”

ilc-seamstress-cutting-pattern-for-apollo-astronaut-spacesuit-620.jpg
Cutting patterns for an Apollo spacesuit. CBS NEWS

And then the job got even tougher.

In January 1967, during a test, a spark in the Apollo 1 capsule’s pure oxygen atmosphere triggered an inferno from which there was no escape for astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

In the months that followed, NASA engineers put their grief aside and made the spacecraft safer. ILC also revamped the suits to take out anything that could burn.

neil-armstrong-spacesuit-label-promo.jpg
CBS NEWS

And the inspections there could be brutal: if one of the women left so much as a stray pin in the finished suit, there’d be hell to pay.

Smith asked, “So, if you had a pin in your spacesuit, what happened?”

“You got stuck with it!” said Ruth Anna Ratledge.

“I guess you learn your lesson that way.”

“Thank God it wasn’t me!” she laughed.

The astronauts themselves were familiar faces as their suits were made, both in person for fittings, and on the signed face cards that hung from every suit – a reminder that the astronauts were betting their lives on the skilled hands of ILC.

Seamstress Joanna Thompson said, “We would have astronauts come in and thank us, and that was a real boost. It made a connection there that you didn’t forget.”

And on July 20, 1969, when the big moment finally arrived, the women of International Latex held their breath. Lillie Elliott recalled, “Once they started down the ladder, and he put his foot on the moon, that was a pinnacle of watching something that you’ve helped do.”

Smith asked, “Where was your heart in that moment?”

“In my throat!” Elliott replied.

“Was there an inner dialog going on, a voice in your head?”

Elliott said, “Oh my, ‘I wonder if that’s gonna hold? Oh my, I wonder if this gonna be all right. I hope that stitch didn’t pop!'”

Watching from Mission Control, Homer Riehm just wanted it to be over, especially when Buzz Aldrin turned a moonwalk into a moon sprint: “And I’m sayin’ to myself, ‘Corral that guy. Lock him up and get him up the ladder. It’s a success. Let’s declare a success and go inside! I wanted Buzz Aldrin to stop runnin’ around and get up the ladder!”

In fact, none of the spacesuits failed, not once, on the first moon mission, or the last.

Harrison Schmitt recalled how every once in while, while moving about on the moon, he’d lapse into song. “I was having a great time!” he said.

Smith asked, “Were you able to enjoy yourself?”

“I really did, the whole time I was up there.”

harrison-schmitt-on-the-moon-during-apollo-17-mission-nasa-620.jpg
Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt was the last man on the moon.  NASA

Schmitt, who turned 84 this month, still loves sharing his lunar experience. And some of the ladies who sewed his suit would like back in, too. “We enjoyed every bit of it, every stitch. I would do it all over again if I could,” said Ruth Anna Ratledge.

“You’d still like to be doin’ it?” asked Smith

“Yes,” she laughed. “I loved it.”

Joanne Thompson added, “Wow, I’m still amazed, it was great!”

They’re all retired now, but ILC is still making spacesuits … and who knows?  An ILC suit might one day go to Mars.

But it all began with Apollo 11, and a small group of dedicated women back on Earth who helped bring us all just a little closer to the heavens.


For more info:


Story produced by John D’Amelio.

Apollo 11: Celebrating 50 years

  • “Man on the Moon:” The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing

  • “I’m speechless!”: How CBS News covered Apollo 11

  • Meet the women behind NASA’s historic moon landing

  • How much did it cost to land on the moon?

  • “Apollo on steroids”: NASA’s mission to get back to the moon

  • Space industry rocketing toward $1 trillion

  • Watch: Apollo 11 launch on CBS 50 years ago today

  • Sneak peek: Man on the Moon

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  • The path to Apollo 11: A timeline of the space race

  • 3 “amiable strangers” flew into history on Apollo 11

  • NASA legends recall nerve-wracking moments before Apollo 11 landing

  • Americans still proud of first moon landing 50 years later

  • Most think NASA, private companies should have role in space program

  • Inside story of Apollo 11’s nail-biting descent to the moon

  • Walter Cronkite and the awe of space exploration

  • The seamstresses who helped put a man on the moon

  • To the Moon! A chronicle of mankind’s greatest adventure

  • 50 years later, Apollo 11 remains a defining moment

  • Events and exhibits celebrating Apollo 11 at 50

  • Preview: Man on the Moon – a CBS News Special

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