A Movie About the Origins of the World's Most Famous Spacesuit

Illustration for article titled A Movie About the Origins of the World's Most Famous Spacesuit

It's been eight long years since Apollo 13. We need our historically accurate space movie fix! Thank goodness Warner Bros. is cooking up a new feature, Spacesuit, based entirely on the creation of the Apollo spacesuits. OK, we're listening.


Deadline is reporting Warner Bros. has hired Richard Cordiner to adapt Nicholas de Monchaux's detailed book about the creation of the Apollo spacesuits. The book details the creation of the 21-layer suit, created by Playtex employees. And it explains the long arduous evolution of the protective suits that would allow astronauts to walk on the moon.

Here's the official run-down from the publisher:

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface in July of 1969, they wore spacesuits made by Playtex: twenty-one layers of fabric, each with a distinct yet interrelated function, custom-sewn for them by seamstresses whose usual work was fashioning bras and girdles. This book is the story of those spacesuits. It is a story of the triumph over the military-industrial complex by the International Latex Corporation, best known by its consumer brand of “Playtex”—a victory of elegant softness over engineered hardness, of adaptation over cybernetics.

Playtex’s spacesuit went up against hard armor-like spacesuits designed by military contractors and favored by NASA’s engineers. It was only when those suits failed—when traditional engineering firms could not integrate the body into mission requirements—that Playtex, with its intimate expertise, got the job.

In Spacesuit, Nicholas de Monchaux tells the story of the twenty-one-layer spacesuit in twenty-one chapters addressing twenty-one topics relevant to the suit, the body, and the technology of the twentieth century. He touches, among other things, on eighteenth-century androids, Christian Dior’s New Look, Atlas missiles, cybernetics and cyborgs, latex, JFK’s carefully cultivated image, the CBS lunar broadcast soundstage, NASA’s Mission Control, and the applications of Apollo-style engineering to city planning. The twenty-one-layer spacesuit, de Monchaux argues, offers an object lesson. It tells us about redundancy and interdependence and about the distinctions between natural and man-made complexity; it teaches us to know the virtues of adaptation and to see the future as a set of possibilities rather than a scripted scenario.

Sounds rad. Unfortunately we don't really know much about the new writer or who else is behind this project, but the idea does have us excited. To find out more, you can download the first chapter of Spacesuit: Fashioning the Apollo at the book's official website.


Jordan Harper

Has it not been 18 years since Apollo 13?!