The First Human On The Moon Was Wearing A Suit Made By Playtex

When Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon, forgoing his planned nap time, he did so in a suit that had been made by Playtex, a brand more famous for manufacturing underwear.

Going into the near vacuum of space or the Moon requires a robust wardrobe. Without an airtight suit, the pressure around you would become so low that the boiling point of the fluids inside your body decreases to below that of your body temperature, and gas bubbles will begin to form inside you. 

“Some degree of consciousness will probably be retained for 9 to 11 seconds. In rapid sequence thereafter, paralysis will be followed by generalized convulsions and paralysis once again,” NASA’s Bioastronautics Data Book explains.

“During this time, water vapor will form rapidly in the soft tissues and somewhat less rapidly in the venous blood. This evolution of water vapor will cause marked swelling of the body to perhaps twice its normal volume unless it is restrained by a pressure suit.”

Your blood would stop circulating, while gas and water vapor would flow slowly out of your airways, and the resulting moisture evaporation would cause your mouth and nose to freeze slightly before the rest of you. 

This is all to say, if you delegate the task of creating an airtight suit, with the additional requirements that it must deliver oxygen to its user and closely control their temperature, you give it to the best manufacturer out there.

NASA invited a number of teams to compete for the task of creating spacesuits for the Apollo Moon mission. International Latex Corporation (ILC), better known by its consumer brand Playtex, was not among the chosen, but convinced NASA to allow them to enter their own.

After working around the clock for six weeks, they created a test suit worthy of submitting to NASA. Led by a car mechanic and a former television repairman with no previous experience in manufacturing spacesuits, the team’s test suit beat off the competition, bigger companies with far more money to spend. The suit withstood the conditions it was meant to, while also allowing its occupants the flexibility they needed on their Moon trip.

Neil Armstrong was a fan, likening the suit to a spacecraft.

“It turned out to be one of the most widely photographed spacecraft in history,” Armstrong later wrote of it. “That was no doubt due to the fact that it was so photogenic.” 

“Equally responsible for its success was its characteristic of hiding from view its ugly occupant,” he added. “Its true beauty, however, was that it worked.”

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