spacewear is the new haute couture: a boot that almost went to the moon
 

spacewear is the new haute couture: a boot that almost went to the moon

history’s most famous footstep: neil armstrong’s ‘one small step’ was the result of big engineering. all parts of the spacesuits, including the boots, needed to be perfect and this means that models deemed unfit were rejected, even for the smallest reasons. mobility and fit are extremely important in keeping astronauts productive, so NASA has been focusing on space wear designs to help crews work more efficiently and safely during spacewalks.

apollo A7L lunar boot spacewear is the new haute couture: a boot that almost went to the moon designboom

the construction of the apollo A7L lunar boot consists of the aluminized mylar insulation layers with gold-tone kapton tape and liner material bearing a large stitched ‘R’, characteristics in keeping with the configuration of an apollo-era lunar boot
image courtesy RR auction / gif © designboom

 

 

the neil armstrong boot prototype is a sensationally rare artefact that offers unique insight into the intensive design and quality assurance placed upon the very boot worn by armstrong over the course of his quarter-of-a-million mile journey to become the first human being to set foot on the moon. RR auction in boston has one such prototype up for sale in their science and technology offer. the pack includes a custom presentation stand and an uncommon multilayered section of the various materials involved in the creation of an apollo A7L lunar boot, accompanied by a letter of authenticity from ILC historian bill ayrey.

 

estimate: $40,000+ , check it out – the RR auction ends today – 7 PM ET!

apollo A7L lunar boot spacewear is the new haute couture: a boot that almost went to the moon designboom
boots and gloves are the most difficult part of a space suit to design
image courtesy RR auction / gif © designboom

 

 

the apollo A7L lunar boot — fitted specifically for armstrong — was produced by the international latex corporation (ILC) in dover, delaware (1968-1969), shortly before the apollo 11 mission took flight, in july 1969. it’s insulation has been resolved with radiation-deflecting aluminium mylar, it’s padded with blue silicon and studded with golden kapton tape, that can handle temperatures ranging from -452 degrees to +500 degrees fahrenheit. the name is stitched in beta cloth along the top of the boot’s interior— armstrong, like a football player’s name on a jersey. historians don’t know why it never made it to space, and only speculate as to whether armstrong wore it in training. there could be a number of reasons why it wasn’t used: even the tiniest imperfection, like a sewing error, for example, would have been considered too risky.

apollo A7L lunar boot spacewear is the new haute couture: a boot that almost went to the moon designboom
the sole of the apollo A7L lunar boot is made for walking on alien ground
image courtesy RR auction / gif © designboom

 

 

the display of technology is nothing short of inspiring. how are we supposed to plan for a bigger human presence in space and other worlds when we don’t have the proper gear? if the goal is to establish a permanent presence from earth to the moon, and use that to facilitate travel to mars, astronauts are going to need to wear something that protects them from the lack of oxygen and pressure, high doses of radiation, temperature fluctuations, and other elements like cosmic particles zipping through… and the complex nature of designing, constructing, and deploying a space wear to meet specific needs takes time.

apollo A7L lunar boot spacewear is the new haute couture: a boot that almost went to the moon designboom
armstrong’s name is stitched in beta cloth along the top of the boot’s interior — just like a football player’s name on a jersey
image courtesy RR auction

 

 

spacesuit designers know what has worked and they don’t want to deviate too much from that unless the next step forward will increase the comfort of the astronaut and improve the ability to do meaningful work in the harsh vacuum of space. this example is incomplete, the prototype is missing the outer, fire-resistant beta cloth layer, the chromel-R fabrics (woven chromium steel to protect against sharp rocks) that adorn the boots he actually wore and the various snaps and straps necessary for secure fitting and closure.

 

as for the real boots, don’t expect them to hit the auctions any time soon. they’re still in outer space, because armstrong had to abandon them to offset the weight from the moon rocks he brought back to us.

apollo A7L lunar boot spacewear is the new haute couture: a boot that almost went to the moon designboom
the material palette includes aluminium mylar, blue silicon and golden kapton tape
image courtesy RR auction

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