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  CNN: Women who made the Apollo spacesuits

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Author Topic:   CNN: Women who made the Apollo spacesuits

Posts: 321
From: Delray Beach Florida USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 10-28-2011 12:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting story from CNN with actual names of the ladies who did this often overlooked yet vital work.

"I had something to do that was great. I did something great in my lifetime. I built the suit that went to the moon," 75-year-old Bert Pilkenton told CNN.

For 42 years, Pilkenton, along with some 80 other young women, individually tailored spacesuits for International Latex Corporation (ILC)Dover, which had been part of the Playtex group in the 1960s. Their intimate knowledge of the human body and skills with synthetic materials and body-hugging shapes meant they triumphed over the hard amour-like spacesuits designed by military contractors and favored by NASA's engineers.

"Lower arm, upper arm, torso, setting zippers, the convolutes. I had a part in all of it. Wherever they needed help. We just helped each other," said Ruth Ratledge who still works at ILC Dover as a seamstress, aged 77, having given up on retirement...


Posts: 442
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 10-28-2011 12:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great story. It gets right down into what makes us all proud to be an AMERICAN!!!


Posts: 241
Registered: Jan 2008

posted 10-28-2011 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

spacefan JC
New Member


posted 10-31-2011 08:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacefan JC   Click Here to Email spacefan JC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are any of the ILC "T O's" in the public domain? Might help someone wanting to make a replica.


Posts: 1050
From: Canada
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 10-31-2011 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So in 1962 ILC was part of the Playtex group, right? Maybe Gus Grissom's panty girdle came from Frederica as well!

Cliff Lentz

Posts: 639
From: Philadelphia, PA USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-04-2011 01:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the chance to talk to Bill who was featured in the ILC video.

ILC Dover was displaying examples of the various elements of the suits at the National Air and Space Museum in November. He also brought the lunar EVA suit that was in the video. It was really amazing to see the "guts" of the lunar suit.

He told me the story about the seamstresses writing their names on different layers of the suits. The only way they would be discovered was to dissemble the suit and they knew that would never happen!

In our conversation he told me that John Young was the toughest on his suits, always challenging them with extraordinary movements in the different tests they conducted at ILC.

All times are CT (US)

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