Pressure garment, 1932
Joining the Dots. Research strongly indicates that the space suits worn for the Apollo photographs and TV coverage from the Moon were simply costumes designed for simulation and photography.
Meticulously detailed studies of the evidence reveals that Armstrong and Aldrin’s suits, as worn in the Apollo 11 photographs, were copies of the Apollo space suits designated for an EVA on the lunar surface. It is asserted that the details within these photographs demonstrate that these ‘accessorized costumes’ were worn without their pressure suits and could never have been used by anyone who was actually on the Moon – they didn't have the seals required to enable them to be reliably pressurized and withstand an external vacuum.
The fact that this ring is exposed in the Apollo 11 photos prompted this investigation. As we will see, it should have been fully covered by the glove/gauntlet.
There were numerous problems with the suits as worn in the Apollo 11 lunar surface imagery and in all the subsequent missions. So much so, that I had concluded that “clothes do not maketh the Moon Man”. Then, during Apollo 11's 50th anniversary I noticed that the Apollo spacesuit was presented to the public inaccurately in both words and images.
Although this inaccuracy is partly due to the fact that across the Apollo record references to the suits used on the Apollo program are unclear, with exhibited items either wrongly labelled or presented differently relative to what we see in the Apollo imagery or read within the NASA documentation.
Such inconsistencies at the very heart of the Apollo record can be taken in two different ways: 1) either there are those trying to mitigate the effect of the Apollo critics by creating so much confusion that the public just turn away; or 2) this confusion is intentional, achieved by deliberately conflating different aspects of Apollo spacesuits – and that means whistle-blowing is at work.
To see what was really going on we have to delve backwards into history in order to go forwards into clarity. And language is a major part of this confusion because today NASA prefers to refer to the ‘Apollo spacesuit’ as if it were an all-in-one item, but in the 1960s this was not the case. The patent filed by NASA for the Apollo suit clearly sets out the fact that the garments comprising the Apollo space suit were a collection of mix-and-match items designed to fulfil different functions. On a crewed Apollo mission the Command Module Pilot required a simpler configuration to that of the Lunar Module’s Commander and Pilot.
Figure 3. Order of suiting up and the usage of the several items that comprise the Apollo spacesuits – the terms ‘Donning’ and ’Doffing’ were adopted to describe the act of putting on and taking off spacesuit items
The above illustrations are from NASA's March 1969 Apollo Mission Report. Note the pressure gloves and bubble helmet attached to the pressure garment. A pair of short-cuffed gloves and the white intra-vehicular cover complete the ‘in the CM assembly’. The CM’s white cover was less thick and had fewer connections than that of the LM astronauts. Their EVA visor helmet, worn over the pressure helmet, locked onto the outer rim of the pressure garment’s neck ring. The visor helmet and neck ring was protected by a covering made of the same protective material as the white EVA outer cover. The LM astronauts thicker outer cover was designed to protect them from the thermal and micrometeoroid conditions encountered during a lunar surface EVA.
The word ‘assembly’ as used by NASA in the above illustration describes the entirety of items required to create the pressure garment’s environment for an astronaut. However, NASA has an exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) labeled PGA 076 which has a complete mix-up of the items from the CM and EVA modes. The identification states that this suit is the pressure garment assembly belonging to Neil Armstrong. But if you compare the items in the photograph (Figure 4) with those in Figure 3 above, you can see that the CWG (constant wear garment, top left) is not part of the CDR’s PGA, neither are the overshoes (bottom right) nor the glove/gauntlets that you see here – they belong to the protective outer covering, also shown.1
What you do not see is the actual pressure suit, which is supposedly lying within its white outer cover:
Figure 4. NASA S69-38889. Full pressure garment assembly worn by Armstrong, the inlet connectors on the chest are blue, the outlet connectors are red
Full references and data concerning the three modes of dress can be found in the Footnotes and in this paper we take it as said that the biomeds, sanitary wear and communication kits were standard for all three modes).2
Due to successive failures in creating a viable Apollo spacesuit, a make-over of the whole spacesuit development program was undertaken in October 1964, and when failure occurred, new names proclaimed progress, or at least temporarily disguised the same old, same old. And as with military projects, changes to the management of the space suit project signified new code names.
So it came about that in November 1964 the PGA was re-named the Pressure Suit Assembly (PSA); its white protective cover garment worn inside the CM was renamed the IntraVehicular Cover Layer (IVCL); while the EVA white covering was called the Integrated Thermal and Meteoroid Garment (ITMG).3
Nowadays the term used is simply TMG. However back in 1964 the pressure suit cover was called the extravehicular thermal and meteoroid cover (coded ETMG) and consisted of separate pants and hooded jacket designed to be donned over the pressure suit at the start of the EVA. Held together through various suspenders and zippers, this two-piece 1964 ETMG (left, ILC Dover) was abandoned after the January 27 1967 CM fire had proven both Its design and its outer layer of Nomex to be not fit for purpose.
The two-piece ETMG was replaced in 1967 by an Integrated TMG – an all-in-one covering with improved anti-heat and micrometeoroid materials layered and stitched together throughout the covering. However, some prefer to interpret the use of ‘Integrated’ in International Latex Corporation (ILC) and NASA documents as meaning that the TMG cover and the pressure suit were literally attached together.
That the ILC’s use of the word ‘Integrated’ refers to the transition from the two-piece TMG through to the improved design of a one-piece TMG (without any openings for fire to get through to the pressure suit) is confirmed by the I/TMG on the label of Armstrong’s A5L white TMG.
Figure 4b. (ILC Dover) Neil Armstrong's A5L Apollo training suit – multiple suit connection openings, Velcro and button snap attachments, arm and leg pockets, NASA emblem on the front left side – "Item Training I/TMG, Size A5L-009, Armstrong, Contract No. NAS9-10568" (Christies catalog)
Note the black rings that terminate at the points where the suit enjoins the wrist disconnects
Confused? You will be!
It might be more accurate to apply the ‘I’ to ‘Intra’ rather than to ‘Integrated’ because having nominated the CM Pilot’s gear as Intravehicular, both the CM and the EVA outfits were somewhat inaccurately called Extravehicular Mobility Units, EMUs. The CM could go outside the spacecraft in his TMG, but he was not all that mobile, being tethered to the CM life support systems by a cable known as the 'umbilical', and his TMG had fewer layers and therefore less protection than his colleagues. But the clothing confusion does not stop there: swapping Nomex for Teflon and losing its connectors, the design of the 1964 ETMG suit and pants combo remained within the Apollo program. Worn in a pressurized CM or LM, this was renamed ‘the coverall’ thereby inferring that this Teflon two piece was really a one piece.
Returning to the pressure garment itself, the US National Air and Space Museum (NASM) hasn’t kept up with this name change for the PGA, as we saw (in Figure 4). Nor indeed has NASA’s history website, as we will see.3 Moreover, the NASM has not bothered to educate the public concerning the precise evolution of the spacesuits used for the space race of the 1960 and 1970s. But then, even the manufacturers were unaware of some of the uses their suits have been put to.4
Biography of a 20th century Apollo
The only thing one really needs to know for the purposes of this investigation is how NASA got to the suits worn for the Apollo missions in general, and Apollo 11 in particular. The start of the US space suit research program had begun in the mid-1950s, but for the public it was the (1958-63) Mercury program which heralded the US space race and the three sections of the space projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo were distinct episodes. This was not the case for NASA and its suit contractors. For them, the Apollo program was integral and sequential.
The astronauts on the Mercury program (1958-1963) had worn a pressure suit and a protective covering including a hard helmet, derived from the X-15 high altitude pilot’s gear, and these suits would only be pressurized in an emergency situation. This phase had facilitated the selection of suit contractors for the next phase. The Gemini program (1961-1966) and the Apollo program (1961-1975) operated together – both provided the events which enabled the refining of the hardware, as spacesuit engineers call their products. And during this period all problems had to be dealt with before the goal of a Moon landing by the end of 1969 could be achieved.5
In space suit terms Gemini suits were in development from 1963 and by September 1965 NASA was ready to order 14 A5L ‘training’ suits for Gemini from ILC Dover. These were followed by an order for 25 A6L ‘flight’ suits. The Apollo phase began with the tragedy of the January 27, 1967 fire on the launch pad. Out of which, like a phoenix from the ashes, the redesigned Apollo suit, the A7L was born. This iteration was used for Apollo 7 thru 14.
As ILC put it, "the A7L [sic] would combine the best of these iterations and produce the versatile system that supported launch and re-entry, vehicular activity and EVA." (Those mix-and-match combos illustrated in Figure 3). Even so, this suit’s performance dictated further modifications. After two more research iterations (A8L and A9L ) the restructured A7L was designated for Apollo 15-17 as the A7LB. (Skylab also used modified A7LB suits, as did the ASTP). It had taken well over a decade to get there.
ILC also noted that:
The base AX5L to A7L configuration was “locked-in” in 1965, not because it was considered an ideal, but rather because it was the best at the time and the Apollo program had to progress to training and flight. The technical personnel intimate with the suit system recognized there were opportunities for improvement, especially in the areas of ease of donning, bending over and visibility [when] in the seated position.
Note that this comment does not specifically mention zippers, merely the means by which a person enters the suit – this will be noteworthy later. Also this comment does reflect the fact that the technological capacity of the materials they could use was not the only limitation to their creativity: the suit engineers were constrained by the size of the LM hatch and the amount of space within the CM. The CM and the LM in turn, were constrained in their own dimensions and weight by the amount of lift the Saturn V could produce. NASA was constrained by all of these criteria as well as budgets and time – the need to get the job done by 1969, come what may.
The rules of NASA speak
In order to decode the confusing language and acronym usage adopted by NASA for its suits, we need to understand three essential acronyms: the first acronym goes with the Constant Wear Garment (CWG). As seen in Figure 3, this short-sleeved long john (including socks) was worn next to the skin by the CMP under his pressure suit; and by all three crew members under that two-piece Teflon coverall worn in the ‘shirtsleeve’ environment of a pressurized cabin. In spacesuit terms the shirtsleeve environment is not related to temperature, but to the ability to move one’s arms freely – as opposed to the limited movement that a pressure suit imposes.
Figure 5. Buzz Aldrin inspecting the LM on July 18 1969 – essentially the original 1964 ETMG configuration, with different materials, wearing it in the LM is potentially misleading as these coveralls were not worn during the LM’s descent/ascent modes
The second acronym is for the Liquid Cooling Garment (LCG). In Figure 3 (the 1969 illustration) this long-sleeved front-fastening long john with socks (Velcro tabs on Apollo 11, zippers on Apollo 14) was worn next to the skin by the EVA crew, replacing the CWG.
The third acronym already dealt with, is the TMG, and we use it in this investigation to refer to the Thermal and Meteoroid Garment used for protecting the Apollo EVA pressure suit when on the lunar surface.
Here is the Apollo EVA suit with its portable backpack (PLSS) According to NASA data, this combo should support the astronaut for a maximum of 115 hours:
Figure 6. Apollo Extravehicular Mobility Unit with key elements marked – the reference A7L (the 7th iteration of the TMG) became the generalized appellation for Apollo suits up to and including Apollo 14
Technically and literally this EVA get-up is the only combination that can be correctly referred to as an Apollo Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU). However, as we have seen NASA is not fussy about mixing it up, and not knowing all the ins and outs of this Apollo garb, it has become general practise for many commentators more accustomed to the EMU used on the ISS to refer simply to ‘the Apollo suit’ as if it were all of a piece – albeit made up of numerous layers. And how many layers exactly varies across different sources. NASA’s very particular use of the English language means that the function of individual items is often misunderstood, and the elements of any particular suiting mode are then combined erroneously.
This lack of accuracy has not been controlled by NASA, rather it would appear to have been encouraged. After all, during the development of the elements required for the Apollo suits, it would have been simple and indeed necessary to keep the details updated and end up with an accurate record for all subsequent needs, whether media or technical, after the event. As this is not the case, (even the ILC Dover database has discrepancies when compared with the NASA photographic evidence, as we will see later) either these inconsistencies are due to carelessness – because it was not considered important, or something else was going on. The fact that NASA data sources lack clarity concerning Apollo 11 – THE mission – would tend to indicate that this continuing lack of consistency is deliberate. Whether these inconsistencies stem from a military imperative or are intended as a whistle-blow is debatable.
Taking the NASA history website as an example of these space suit shenanigans, the story of the Apollo suit is presented incorrectly in all respects: it informs us that on Apollo 11:
Two configurations of the PGA were worn on the Apollo 11 mission. The intravehicular configuration was worn by the Command Module Pilot (figure 2). The extravehicular configuration, shown in figure 3, was worn by the Commander and Lunar Module Pilot. The two configurations were similar in most respects. However, the intravehicular version was equipped with a lighter weight and less bulky cover layer and did not include hardware and controls necessary for extravehicular use.
By putting the pressure suit to the right of its cover suit, these NASA photos follow the tradition set up in the 1969 illustration (Figure 3) showing the donning sequence from the observer’s right to left. However, in every other respect, the above text and the captions to these photos are wrong. NASA’s figure 2 purports to be the CMP, Michael Collin’s intra vehicular configuration of the Pressure Garment Assembly. However, NASA captioned these suits as ‘Extravehicular’ and therefore it cannot belong to the Apollo 11 CM Pilot as stated in the accompanying text. The Apollo suit pictured in figure 2 on the NASA history site had nothing at all to do with the Apollo 11 mission. It is the next evolution of this suit, the A7LB (used for the Apollo 15 thru Apollo 17) and its zipper closures are in a completely different configuration to the A7L suit.
Figure 7. Incorrect mission, wrong suit – this is NASA’s figure 2 but captioned 'Extravehicular configuration of the EMU’
And for further verification, the NASM holds on its website a photographic record, but not exhibited, labeled as the A5L 1965 developmental blue pressure suit used by Apollo 11 CM pilot Michael Collins. It looks nothing like the suit pictured on the NASA history website.
NASA's figure 3 showing only the bubble helmet must surely be construed as the Intravehicular configuration of the EMU. If it were not for that completely wrong suit in their figure 2 one might assume that the captions on these NASA photos have been simply misplaced. But it is that wrong suit and the references to CMP in NASA's figure 2 that demands that we look closer.
Figure 8. Correct mission, wrong suit – this is NASA’s figure 3 but captioned ‘Intravehicular configuration of the EMU’
Having ascertained that NASA's figure 2 is totally wrong, and knowing that their figure 3 caption does show an Apollo 11 CDR and the LMP suit of some description, one might deduce that the figure 3 text is actually correct and this figure 3 is their A7L shown beside its A6L blue-and-orange EVA pressure suit (color version shown below):
If that were to be so, then the EVA visor helmet is not shown. But the Apollo 14 EVA helmet is shown with the Apollo CMP pilot's gear in their figure 2 – and he was never going to wear one! Again we are tempted to think that the captions are misplaced. But this mix-up can also lead us to think again about the differences between these two suits – and those helmets.
The helmets from the Mercury and Gemini programs also evolved over the period of the Apollo program. Over the years, NASA’s Langley spacesuit research centre carried out a lot of analysis of the suits and their accessories. Expert Jim McBarron states that the hard white shell of the protective helmet used during Gemini (which goes over the bubble helmet and protects the astronaut during launch/re-entry as well as supporting the EVA visors) was found to be inadequate during thermal vacuum (T/V) testing. It was changed to the red-colored Polycarbonate shell seen in NASA’s Apollo 9 pictures. He also tells us that this Extra Vehicular Visor Assembly (EVVA) also failed under T/V conditions – it deformed, draping over the bubble helmet.6
At the time there were no better materials available for constructing this protective outer helmet, the Apollo 9 red shell was retained, and for Apollo 11 it was simply covered with the complete TMG covering we see in the EVA photos. Jim McBarron states that the hard red shell is still there, you just can’t see it, and that was the best they could do. And with other changes relating to venting, the EVA helmet‘s disconnect ring was upgraded, resulting in a red anodized aluminum overlay onto the pressure suit’s blue anodized aluminum neck ring. As a result of that upgrade, all bubble helmets from Apollo 11 onwards would have their own red ring, the older blue ringed bubble helmets being retained for training purposes only. Which is why you see two colours on the neck ring in these photos, and why you see Armstrong’s exhibited bubble helmet with a red ring while he holds a blue-ringed bubble in an earlier photo (see Appendix 2).
Figure 10. Suit back uppermost showing helmet disconnect ring and open back flap with its zipper fastening
Each Apollo astronaut was issued with one training suit and one A7L flight suit. A second flight suit was kept in reserve in case anything happened to the primary flight suit. And indeed things did happen, some of the materials used in the suit construction had a shorter ‘shelf life’ than expected which then caused pressure leakage problems.6
For example, the time lapse between the scheduled Apollo 13 and 14 missions enabled the suit engineers to discover tears in the material used on the foot of the pressure garment. All the crew suits for Apollo 14 were changed out for new ones just weeks before the actual mission date. In the 2015 NASA technical presentation from which this detailed data emerges, a pertinent question was asked: what would be the effect if such a tear happened during a mission? Langley space suit analyst Jim McBarron first evaded the question but when asked again, said that the records did not show that there were any problems on the missions. This is the standard response from all those who can see perfectly well that there is a technical issue but still have to be seen to support the official Apollo data. But it is noteworthy that his response still didn’t answer the question, and when we get to zippers, you will see exactly why.6
Interestingly, all the Apollo suit technical data, including the pressure suit leakage data, was sent to the NASM along with the Apollo suits. The museum no longer has this data. Whether it was discarded, lost, or wrongly archived by the Smithsonian is not known. As the missing suit data reveals problems with pressure leakage during the Apollo experience, that’s not surprising. But it is part of a pattern: missing data concerning the technical aspects of these missions is inherent within the Apollo record.7
During a presentation of space suit gloves from the past to the present, NASA’s lead spacesuit glove engineer Amy Ross, now actively involved with the developing the lunar Artemis suit, was asked if there were lessons drawn from Apollo which informed future spacesuit design. Her reply was succinct:
Zippers are bad and cables are bad. During the Apollo moonwalks the metal braided cables [on the pressure suit and gloves] tended to fray and the zippers, which sealed air into the suits, got clogged with lunar regolith and didn't work very well.8
The pressure suit zippers and metal braided torsion cables are precisely the two items most in evidence in those ‘spot the difference’ text, captions and photos on the NASA history website.5 You can imagine the consequences of the zippers fouling or jamming up before the Apollo 11 EVA.
Dealing with Zippers
The specialist zippers used on the Mercury and Gemini suits were very stiff and difficult to close, and there were problems with leakage from supposedly waterproof pressure zippers used earlier in the space program. Although the zippers adopted for Apollo were of a different order of magnitude – they were even stiffer and harder to close, as well as being liable to failure. Even so, having had a frank exchange of views over quality control with the supplier, B.F.Goodrich, (BFG) the Apollo A7L pressure suit zips continued to be used up until the end of Apollo 14.
The USSR took a different view. The Russian spacesuit developers had also ordered 50 of these pressure zippers from BFG – but finding them unfit for purpose they sent them all back to the USA.6
Figure 11. (ILC Dover) A7L pressure suit’s braided torsion cables across chest and shoulders and rear-entry zipper – which note, does not reach the neck disconnect ring
In 2017 Cathleen Lewis, a curator at the NASM Space History Department explained why this zipper has not been used by NASA since Apollo:
The type of zipper that was used relied on two heavy-duty, brass zippers that compressed a rubber gasket sandwiched between them when the suit was pressurized. While this seal was reliable, it did require frequent re-testing throughout the production and flight test cycle. The seal, while reliable for short-term use, was not so for long-term use. The chemical interaction between the copper in the brass zippers and the rubber gasket caused quick deterioration of the rubber (emphasis added).9
Figure 12. Details of the two sets of zippers sewn over each other – note the pale inner lining of the pressure suit and the dark blue outer covering of the pressure suit – we will come to the TMG zipper later
However, the Apollo missions are let off the hook because, as Cathleen Lewis explains:
As long as missions were less than a few weeks and required only a handful of re-pressurizations without retesting, then there was little concern.
By 2019 on the occasion of the restoration of Armstrong’s flight suit A7L Cathleen Lewis added this comment on the NASM website:
The zippers and synthetic rubber used on the Apollo spacesuits were only meant to have a shelf life of six months. As it was well known at the time, the rubber used in creating the pressure layer of the suits reacted quite negatively to copper.10
Which isn’t exactly so, ‘Quite negatively’ actually means that the rubber perished, and according to Langley’s expert Jim McBarron the safe period was four months, not six, and he was being generous. He also stated that the problem of perishing rubber was not well understood at the time – it was only because Apollo 14 had been postponed from its official start date that the aforementioned perishing rubber on the foot revealed itself. He added that it was only then that they worked out that all rubber trees produced a certain amount of copper. Although coming from the NASA field center in the business of analysing the spacesuit products – even that explanation sounds rather unlikely, and McBarron didn’t report it with much conviction.6
Neil Armstrong’s A7L flight suit’s pressure gloves have an ILC label CEI 2001A and delivery date 4/69 – so we should know that three months is the absolute safety window inferred by McBarron for his rotten rubber foot problems. But Cathy Lewis may well be correct – and the zipper problem was understood before the foot problem.
Back at At ILC Dover those A8L and A9L iterations were entirely dedicated to this rubber zipper deterioration problem. Coded aptly as the Omega Project various attempts were made to relocate the zipper on the Apollo pressure suit. Because, over and above the question of storage and passage of time between suit fabrication and deterioration of the vitally important sealing of the pressure suit, the loading of the astronaut’s reclining or seated body onto a vertical spine zipper configuration exacerbated any construction fault. As the Omega project is credited with the dates 1968-69, and the results of its research first used in 1971 on the A7LB for Apollo 15, clearly the A7L Apollo suits had shown up the problem. But that raises two further questions.
When exactly did the serious zipper problem first make news? ILC states that the Omega project was in the wind in 1967 after the end of Gemini and that infers that it was also a problem on the Gemini flights. Not only did they have the double rubber zipper on the pressure suit, these suits had a long black metal zipper down the back. How many accidents were there before this 1968 revelation? And if it took until 1971 before a reasonable alternative was produced, what about Apollo? Do you send an astronaut out beyond LEO for an EVA in a pressure suit at or near its sell by/use by date? Or, back in 1968 do you realise that given the limitations of the technology these problems are insurmountable – and resort to simulations to represent the stated events.
If the decade allocated to the Apollo program was useful from an R&D point of view regarding development of the suits, thus far, by all accounts, this suit was not coping with all the demands placed upon it. For the pressure zipper issue, the change over to the A7LB diagonal zipper configuration removed some of that problem, as did changing the manufacturer of the zipper itself but it didn't answer another. That of dust and dirt penetration into the suit. .Dealing with the front of the suit first, the Apollo A7L EVA suit had an additional TMG cover which went over the chest and was used to avoid dust contamination of the various connectors and wires. To peel it off you pulled at the NASA logo. In the picture below you can see these covers are worn by Armstrong and Aldrin:
Figure 13. Publicity photo: Apollo 11 crew, 'This is what we are going to look like when on the Moon' – note two early blue disconnect neck rings and a partial red overlay on Aldrin’s neck ring, plus the reflective gold visors on the EVA helmets
The above PR image was taken before the mission badge was sewn on and all these suits are looking squashy because seated under the studio lights they wouldn't be wearing an inflated pressure suit underneath. Or even any pressure suit at all, since the mix-and-match wardrobe items enabled a costume to be accessorized expressly for studio photographic sessions – and any training simulations where learning a task was initially facilitated by not wearing the pressure suit.
Both practises would legitimize the very invention of a stage costume. Note that Collins holds a bubble helmet, since he will never be going outside the CM, while CDR Armstrong and LMP Aldrin hold their visor helmets. Note the contrasting color of the beige Velcro on their sleeves, just above the wrist, this is to take a protective cover patch of TM material over that plug on their arm. Then note the complete absence of Velcro tabs on the front of the CDR and LMP pilot’s suits. This is because they were wearing the protective TM covering designed for the front of their suits.
Now compare the Moon background PR image with with the LM background PR image below:
Figure 14. Apollo 11 astronauts photographed in front of a LM, again with blue disconnect neck rings
Here you can also see white LCG cuffs emerging from the two EVA suits. And note that the red and blue rings on all these cover suits, to which gloves should connect, are up the forearm – not at the wrist itself. Some commentators assert that all the astronauts wore comfort wristbands to stop these aluminum rings chafing. Sounds reasonable for training purposes on Earth, but when the suit was worn with its pressure garment, that is hardly a problem.
It is also said that soft comfort gloves were worn under gloves of any description. There are no traces of either item on the picture of Armstrong’s PGA 076 gear (Figure 4). Nor on the 2019 illustrations of the Apollo 11 mission. But there is a photo of Armstrong in the prep room at NASA before the launch wearing a pair of white gloves before donning his pressure gloves – and we also see his wedding ring. One may wonder how a ring was permitted under a pressurized glove.
Figure 15. Armstrong in the prep room – note the red disconnect ring, stitched-on mission badge – and lack of dust cover
Covering up for the exposure
One can also see in Figure 14 that Collins had fewer front connectors than Armstrong and Aldrin. Notice how bulky the two EVA suits look, especially across the shoulders, with Armstrong and Aldrin doing very good impressions of the Michelin Man. Then compare the picture with any of the lunar surface photos – all of which feature astronauts wearing white costumes looking more like Collins does in Figure 14 – no bulking up, no LCG, and consequently no pressure suit. And note that Armstrong and Aldrin, supposedly practicing lunar surface EVA tasks, were not wearing the protective TMG cover on the front of their suits. Instead we see the horseshoe shape made by the Velcro tabs to which it should attach. But they are now wearing the TMG patches on their arms.
Figure 14 is the complete inverse of the Moon publicity photo in Figure 13. And that also goes for the demeanour of the three astronauts. In the Moon publicity shot the two EVA crew are smiling, but the CSM pilot is not. In Figure 14 Collins is smiling slightly but only with his mouth and the other two are looking very serious, even sad. The presence of Collins in front of the LM is another anomaly. Since he was never going to be on the surface why is he even in this training photo – unless it is to emphasise the contrast. These two photos look like a deliberate game of ‘spot the difference’ and a subtle whistle-blow alerting the observer to yet another aspect of what is completely wrong with the Apollo record.
So let’s go back to this Velcro tab issue, why obsess about such a tiny detail? Because of the dreaded lunar dust, that’s why. The lunar surface dust debate was in full swing during the 1960s. No one knew for sure what the conditions would be like at the Apollo 11 landing site, how deep the dust would be and what effect it would have on the lunar EVA equipment and personnel. In the highly unlikely event that it was decided not to use the covers before leaving on this very first landing, why have them on in the publicity shot and in the PR videos? This front TM protective cover was never used on Apollo 11, nor on any other mission. The Velcro tabs to which it should be applied can be seen in all the lunar EVA photographs.
Figure 16. NASA Apollo 11 illustration shows the connector cover and has the EVA gauntlets extending to just below the inner elbow crease – in the Apollo 11 photos this is clearly NOT the case for either item
A lot of fuss was also made about the amount of dust expected at the other designated landing sites, surely protective TMG covers would be worn, wouldn’t they? No. All the training suits were issued with them (Cernan’s Apollo 17 is documented) but after Apollo 11 every mission was photographed somewhat differently: both the publicity shot and the EVA shots would feature TMGs with no front dust covers. Which infers that the lack of dust covers on the Apollo 11 EVA images meant that every subsequent mission had to conform to the same regimen as that Apollo 11 LM training scenario: TMG patches on the arms but not on the front.
From a certain perspective that makes the fuss about the dust another potential blow on that whistle. That these protective TMG front flaps were deemed unnecessary on the very first lunar landing is a nonsense while their absence tells us that either the lunar dust was not exactly as anticipated. Or the Apollo 11 TV coverage and the lunar surface images were taken during photo studio sessions Earth. Which might help the Hasselblad expert Jan Lundberg who couldn’t explain why Buzz Aldrin was standing in a pool of light and recommended that Armstrong explain it. The lunar EVA images stand for the explanation.7
Figure 16a. (ILC Dover) Armstrong’s dust cover, December 1968. This cover was initially intended to prevent lunar dust from gathering around and jamming the connectors. The front flap allowed access to the space suit purge value. Two curved side openings allowed oxygen hoses to slide under the cover – Item I/TMG Connector Cover, Part No. A7L-201109-01, Size Armstrong, Serial No. 063, Date 12.68, Contract No. NAS 9-6100 (Bonhams catalog)
The TMG cover exposure raises other questions as to the apparent difficulties of dealing with lunar dust, notwithstanding the everlasting grumble about dust making the suits dirty (and therefore less reflective of the sunlight – the reason they were white in the first place). In 2006 NASA published a document about the Apollo experience in which there was much discussion as to the dust at various sites analysed with a view to future crewed lunar landings.11
In 2015 Langley's expert Jim McBarron was asked how they had ascertained the dangers of the dust, when no one had been to the Moon. He responded that based on their expertise, geologists had made up artificial lunar dust, which they had sprayed onto the suit materials to test their abilities to withstand abrasion and penetration. Perhaps inadvertently supporting the ‘We didn’t go...there’ school of thought, he also told his audience of present-day space suit engineers that he had seen the suits come back from the missions – and they didn’t look a lot different to their own test samples. Nor in his opinion did the dust effects vary much from mission to mission.
His audience fell silent – likely remembering other NASA documents which state that they had to wait for rocks to be brought back from the Moon by Apollo 11 before being able to create artificial lunar dust.6 Again, present day engineers are having to rely on data that does not necessarily reflect the circumstances as accurately as they might wish. Nevertheless the 2006 dust document is worth reading just for the contradictions within its pages.
Fig 16b. Close up from AS11-40-5942 (39 shots after the famous Aldrin picture AS11-40-5903) – note Aldrin's right glove with exposed black ring and the build up of dust and dirt on his forearm and on his cuff
Thirteen years later in 2019, when it is asserted that the lunar dust clogged up zippers and penetrated the outer layers of the TMG, even more serious questions are raised. The seal of the TMG and the pressure suit zippers were largely covered by the PLSS. If dust had truly managed to penetrate their backs, then all the more reason to be wearing their frontal dust covers. However, Jim McBarron had stated that "they did everything by analysis". Deliberately testing the zippers and the TMG materials as separate items at NASA test facilities would produce such results – along with that report’s sentence construction. Given the architecture of these two garments, the sentence should have read, "lunar dust penetrated the outer layers of the TMG and clogged up [the pressure] zippers".
Then again, being delightfully vague about the zippers might have something to do with managing a serious problem visible on the Apollo suit displays at the NASM, thanks to this 2019 statement. We are informed that:
"The 'zipper' is actually a misnomer in that the A7L back entry was through two zippers sewn over each other." So far so good. "The inner zipper had rubber teeth and provided sealing. The outer (externally visible) zipper was a conventional metal-toothed slider for mechanical restraint." Not so good, and an incorrect description of the pressure zipper which as we recall was in fact:
Two heavy-duty, brass zippers that compressed a rubber gasket sandwiched between them when the suit was pressurized.
The 2019 zipper statement comes with the warning ‘citation needed’. We should say so! This is again inferring that the suit is a one-piece suit. Associating the inner zipper with rubber leads the reader is to assume that is the pressure zipper, and conclude therefore that the metal zipper is the white zipper stitched onto the crotch of the white TMG cover seen in Figure 12.
Neither the CM TMG suits nor the EVA TMG were able to retain pressure, and the donning instructions for the A7L does not include this white zipper.10 Nor do the recent 3D scans of an A7L at the NASM show any white zipper. NASA issued step-by-step instructions to its astronauts as to how to do up the two pressure suit zippers (a big palaver using two different lanyards) and then how to close the outer white TMG flap over his spine, and then through the crotch, keeping it in place with the Velcro and stud fastenings. NO white metal zipper!
So to be clear: the two pressure suit zippers were sewn over each other, providing a double layer of protection against a loss of pressure BUT the two garments – the TMG and the pressure suit – were NOT sewn together to form one suit.
Figure 17. Back view of the A7L TMG showing the fold-over flap, the pressure studs and Velcro tabs to hold it in place over the pressure suit. The pressure suit’s double zippers are visible – (the silver rectangle of anti-abrasion metallic Chromel-R on the upper back was designed to offset any bouncing or abrasion from the PLSS)
Figure 18. Inserting a pressure suit into a white outer TMG at ILC Dover – a scene from a US National Archives 1970 film12
Neither protective covering alone, whether the CM suits or the EVA white covers were able to retain pressure.The red helmet disconnect ring belongs uniquely to the pressure suit, and it cannot seal to the white suit as it only closes with a flap. Moreover, the seals/connections on the visor helmet do not compress, they have a door latch tongue design purely to facilitate quick attachment to the pressure suit’s outer red collar, see Figure 19:
Figure 19. Armstrong’s TMG – clearly showing how the fabric TMG sits against the pressure suit disconnect ring
The other takeaway from the Apollo suits mentioned by Amy Ross is that the braided torsion cables associated with the pressure suit and gloves frayed very badly. Below is a side view where you can see how the braided cables extended over the back of the shoulders, how inflated the torso and thigh region is – and that the astronaut cannot reach the ground to pick up anything he might drop – such as a hammer.
Figure 20. St. Valentine’s day testing of the A6L International Latex Corporation, 1967 test (ILC Dover)
According to the reports from NASA, all these tension cables became very frayed. Again this sounds rather unlikely, when the longest amount of time scheduled to be spent on the lunar surface and not all at work, was of just over three days (Apollo 17) – but it would be entirely commensurate with months of systems analysis and training on Earth, including any photography and filming done for such purposes.
Figure 21. This is a larger picture of the Apollo A6L EVA pressure suit (ILC Dover)
Below is the A6L pressure suit’s shoulder torsion cables being tested by ILC Dover’s primary astronaut test subject Tom Sylvester. This image strongly recalls the similarly-designed ribbed suits from scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey:
Figure 22. Testing a pressure suit’s torsion cables (ILC Dover)
During preparations for his ground-breaking film Stanley Kubrick had NASA Apollo spacesuits hanging in the production offices at the Borehamwood studios, UK. The name of the actor who played Heywood Floyd in 2001 was William Sylvester, while the ILC Contract End Item (CEI reference) for Apollo items (seen on Borman’s glove and Armstrong’s dust cover) was 2001 A (see also Links to the Films of Stanley Kubrick):
Figure 23. Ribbed space suits worn in the Moon bus – a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey (MGM 1968)
The astronauts are discussing the merits of the sandwich filling: Floyd says, "What's that, chicken?" Bill responds, "Something like that, tastes the same anyway." The sandwich with its five layers is analog to A5L sandwich! They are in a Moon bus with five-a-side windows. We see the airlock entryway and it's pressurized because they have removed their helmets and their gloves. Which is where we come upon another set of anomalies.
Hand in Glove
The Apollo A7L glove sequence set out in 1969 was intended to be as follows. The astronaut could, if he so desired, don a pair of white comfort gloves – before putting on the pressure glove and matching its colored connector to the color-coded forearm ring of the A6L pressure suit.8
Red on the right and blue on the left.
If remaining in the CM a restraint glove made of protective materials went over this pressure glove. For an EVA, before going out onto the lunar surface a different glove with a much longer gauntlet cuff, reaching nearly to the elbow, was worn.
So let’s look closer at the gloves used on Apollo, these were also an evolutionary design process which went from the very early gloves used by the X-15 pilots (such as Armstrong) through the Mercury and Gemini programs to the Apollo EVA astronauts (also, such as Armstrong).
Therefore the timeline for the gloves now being developed doesn't differ significantly from that used by Apollo.
Figure 24. Timeline for typical glove production today. Here indicated by L-18 thru to L=Launch. NASA expert Amy Ross says that this timeline is the same pattern as that of Apollo, and even today a customised hand mold would have to be made 18 months prior to launch
PVU/FC is the first try-on and agreement by astronaut for fit. TRNG/GLV is a training glove. FLT GLV ATP is astronaut approval of his CM in flight glove. TMG ATP is approval for his thermal and meteoroid gauntlet. The training glove delivery date of nine months prior to launch concurred with the November 1968 date on the ILC label inside Armstrong’s suit at the NASM is another indication that this suit is his training suit – not his flight suit. However, creating more distance from Apollo, the former numerical development references of the gloves changed after the 403 series to references designated by Phases with Roman numerals, thereby creating more distance from Apollo. The current Phase VI (six) is the inverse of the Roman numeral IV (four) and NASA’s abbreviation of IV for IntraVehicular adds yet another layer of potential confusion for the general public.
The pressure glove used on Apollo evolved through two iterations in 1962 and 1963 providing the basis for all NASA pressure gloves until 1978. The pressure glove’s suit disconnects would be in proportion to the usage put on the suit. The Apollo 3.75 psi pressure suit hasn't been considered useful for any space operation since Apollo. And even though they look relatively flimsy, the glove disconnects were difficult to fasten, requiring a two-step rotation and locking process after insertion to help ensure minimum loss of pressure.
Figure 25. Wrist disconnect rings with locking positions between the arm and the glove/gauntlet
Compare the above with what is now considered necessary for a lunar EVA: the new ARTEMIS suit and glove connectors are going to have to cope with a pressure of some 8.0 psi, which requires a hefty articulated metal wrist connector. As for that longer EVA glove, the manufacturer had stipulated that the "outer thermal glove extended well back over the IV glove – TLSA juncture".
Which means that inside the CM all the Apollo astronauts wore a shorter glove made of fewer layers of protective material, and that this glove only reached as far the aluminum connectors to the pressure suit. When outside the spacecraft on an EVA, the outer protective glove had to completely cover the pressure suit aluminum wrist connectors and it went much further up the forearm, as seen in early NASA illustrations – but interestingly, not in the Apollo lunar EVA photographs.
For the apparel oft proclaims the man
And therein lies the tale. It is in the small details, the order of dressing and details such as the color of helmet rings, boots and gloves, together with their fixings which inform the observer that all is not as it seems. It is on the record not least by Neil Armstrong, that the Apollo 11 EVA suit required two distinct phases of dressing and this principle has been maintained as correct procedure over the years, even when reporting the Apollo 11 mission 25 years after the event. With visions of already fairly adrenalin-fueled men struggling in the tight space of the CM to achieve what required several helpers back on Earth, we are informed that the Apollo 11 moonwalkers were to don their LCG and pressure suits in the CM before accessing the LM and descending to the lunar surface.
Then, according to Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17) and author Peter Bond, the Apollo 11 astronauts in the even tighter space of the LM and prior to emerging for their EVA, would add their TMG covers along with the lunar overshoes, the protective outer gloves, the visor helmets and the PLSS systems. Assuming Schmitt actually read the book for which he wrote the introduction, one would wonder.13 Even though we have seen that there is no question of the TMG being an ‘all-in-one pressure suit’ and that the black pressure gloves had to connect and lock to the pressure suit worn under the outer white protective cover, surely they would have put on their TMG covers prior to descending to the lunar surface, in case the LM failed them. This clear difference sounds like another toot on the whistle.
Figure 27. The Apollo 11 July 16 1969 walkout to the Saturn V – note the yellow-rimmed overshoes protecting the pressure boots, the black pressure gloves attached to the red and blue rings belonging to the hidden pressure garment and the different number of connectors on the EVA and CM TMG suits
Here is another shot from the end of the Apollo era showing the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) walk out in 1975. As an aside: space and weight were important considerations, these yellow overshoes seemingly appear only at walkouts. Perhaps they were retained by the launch crew once the astronauts were installed – or this color had a hidden Apollo solar symbolism relevant only to those in the know. And in that context, there are several occult meanings to be derived from the change of color to the blue lunar overshoes and to the combination of blue and yellow. As is the fact that the ridges on the lunar overshoe were designed to match the ridges of the LM ladder. Ostensibly very practical, that there were nine ridges on both shoe and ladder likely had other meanings for those in the know. Not least that the astronauts recruited after the Mercury Seven for the Apollo phase called themselves the Next Nine.
Figure 28. Image 75PC-409 ASTP – walkout to the rocket in 1975 shows the black pressurized gloves attached to the pressure suit – and not connected to the outer white cover
And in the close up view below, the pressurized black glove is shown again next an un-pressurized black glove with its ‘bubble knuckles’, which of course disappear when it is pressurized:
Figure 29. Close-up from 75PC-409 with pressurized glove (left) and a comparison glove un pressurized (right) – the black cuff is the ASTP glove while the white cuff is an Apollo glove
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
The display at the National Air and Space Museum, in trying to be all things to all men, suggests the requirement for people to forget the number of individual items that constituted the astronaut’s EVA garments and instead accept that the aggregate layers constitute the pressure suit. As any fire fighter or deep sea diver will tell you, this is not how it works. But such thinking does go a long way towards explaining other remedial actions such as the change of names from PGA to PSA.
To further mitigate any unpleasant revelations, the public have been informed, ad infinitum, that the bubble knuckle pressure gloves (Figure 29) were worn in the CM and that the TMG’s EVA gauntlet glove contained an integrated pressure glove. Displaying this gauntlet next to the TMG of this so-called PGA assembly (below) would inform the uninitiated that these EVA glove/gauntlets connected and locked to the TMG itself.
Figure 30. (S69-38889 adaptation by Jim McBarron) A7L pressure garment assembly
It’s hard not to conclude that an authority is fire-fighting the problems associated with all the anomalous Apollo 11 photographs.
For the more charitably inclined, confusing the public as to the exact functions of the Apollo suit can be seen as:
For the less charitably inclined these muddles are due to:
And it must follow, as the night the day,
that there is another option. For the ever hopeful that real progress can be made in crewed space flight this side of the 21st century, the anomalies presented across the Apollo record (including those muddles on the NASA history website, uncorrected to this day) are whistle-blowing. Discontinuities across the various technical aspects of the mission records that went unnoticed at the time are evidence that these were very subtly seeded within the Apollo program by ‘the good guys’. Seeding intended for the future – when technology and an emotional distance from the events of the 1960s would permit those outside the space program to discover for themselves the true origins of the Apollo project.
The constraints imposed on 1960s technology by the physics of the natural world and how those issues, not so much the political spectrum, were the real reason that the Apollo program unfolded as it did – a decision of the few to fake what you can’t make happen – led to all the Apollo anomalies we are able to now discern. At the time these were discreetly seeded by the many who understood that freeing space exploration from the historical burden of Apollo would enable space engineers of the future, without losing face, to take a different tack altogether from that chosen by the Apollo decision makers.
That future is now, and it would seem that contemporaneous whistle-blowing is continuing today. Although it would be also fair to say that if the muddles we are seeing with the NASA organisations are simply a disconnect between past and future generations of space engineers, the result is the same: it can be seen that the Apollo record does not stack up.
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Despite the fact that the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal boasts part of a 16mm frame of an astronaut standing in full sunlight with his protective sun visor/sunshades up, and says it is Neil, when it comes to exactly who these whistle-blowers were, you cannot assume it is always the ‘man in the suit’. It is the aggregate of details and circumstances that create a spike on the sound chart and not a single person. As is well known, the American researcher Bart Sibrel asked most of the Apollo astronauts about the authenticity of their lunar trip – and has been thumped by Buzz Aldrin for his pains. On one occasion however, when he asked Buzz more of the same, he was given the impression that the Apollo 11 astronauts were simply doing what they were told. As Buzz had famously replied:
So in all of this discussion concerning perceived space suit shenanigans, it is important to bear in mind the heinous position of the astronauts, especially when reading the next section on the Apollo 11 gloves/gauntlet/cuffs. The photographs discussed below necessarily involve Aldrin, but just because he is wearing them, does not mean that he shares our analysis of these photos; nor is he necessarily the instigator of a whistle-blow. All the photos for the Apollo 11 shoot were conceived and designed in advance of the mission dates and whether in the know or not, since he or his stand in, living or simulated, was dressed and set in place for the photography and filming according to the directions given by the director along with the producer and indeed the full team, he was to some extent, both actor and passenger.
The gloves are off
During the 50th anniversary 2019 media flurry, a cutaway drawing of the layers comprising Armstrong's EVA suit was published in the National Geographic July 2019 issue. The illustration and the language used to describe this suit did not disabuse the reader of the notion that it was an ‘all-in-one’. And the cutaway image of the Apollo 11 EVA suit showed the ‘integrated pressure glove’ reaching part of the way up the forearm. All well, but not so good, this is unsupported by the data published by NASA in 1969 and the Apollo 11 lunar surface photographs.
To be clear about these gloves, NASA image S69-38889 shows a left-handed gray glove with a long gauntlet cuff which is designated as the EVA/training glove. On its long cuff the list of EVA tasks is printed in two blocks at right angles to the edge of the gauntlet. Just below it is the right handed glove, its cuff has been folded back in such a way as to reveal the the ILC Industries’ data label stitched in near to the glove’s edge, this is printed parallel to the edge of the cuff. We also see this glove’s red fixing ring:
Figure 30a. Close up from S69-38889. The gray training glove and white gauntlet cuff – the blue line indicates the position of the invisible blue disconnect ring – the lower glove has the gauntlet cuff folded back to reveal the red aluminum disconnect ring (whether connecting or disconnecting the term disconnect primes in NASA speak)
According to the measurements on the NASM website a pressure glove is 27% the length of an EVA/training glove. But this EVA glove is not the length required by the manufacturer for the protection of the pressure suit fixings and the astronaut’s arms. Measuring only the white cuff, the original EVA gauntlet cuff should be some 33% longer than the cuff on this EVA training glove.
Many hands make light work
This original long gauntlet can be seen in action in the 1969 production filmed for the BBC’s science show Tomorrow’s World.14 Filmed at ILC Dover’s premises, this 6.28 minute segment aired in 1969, showed the journalist and science historian James Burke demonstrating, with the help of two ICL ‘assistants’, the various layers of what is announced as the A7L EVA suit used on Apollo 11. It included the removal of the TMG glove/gauntlet.
From the front, this conformed to that worn by the Apollo 11 crew when sitting in front of a picture of the Moon for their publicity shots (Figure 13) and it is interesting to see that the TMG front cover was peeled back by pulling at the NASA logo on the right. (As noted already, on the suits used in the EVA photos, the TMG cover was not present and the NASA logo was stitched flat to the suit). There were some relatively minor issues with this demonstration, not mentioned was that the PLSS was incomplete, the Liquid Cooling Garment had short sleeves not long sleeves, and it was inferred that that the pressure suit boots were permanently fixed to the TMG garment. Yet these boots were actually worn over the pressure suit’s rubber foot and only when the TMG was donned did the attachments to the TMG come into play.
But as it turns out all this misrepresentation was entirely necessary – due to the two very major issues this doffing exercise revealed.
The first was the removal of those very long gauntlet gloves. In order to get them off each ILC ‘assistant’ applied himself to a hand: the ‘right gauntlet’ man peeled back the very long gauntlet in one single movement, pulling it down to well over Burke’s hand until the red disconnect rings were visible. The left gauntlet man peeling from the left elbow in two movements, folded the glove twice before revealing the blue joint ring. The two assistants were obliged to use both their hands in order to manipulate the locking mechanism on the suit, to firmly grasp the aluminum disconnect belonging to the glove portion, then rotate it and pull it away from the forearm ring. Below are the various levels of the gauntlets and joint locations from 1969 to date: the red vertical lines A and B show how the gauntlet was peeled away from Burke’s left arm, making this gauntlet approximate the red-ringed EVA/training glove seen in Figure 30 above.
Figure 31. The lines on this image indicate the various lengths of glove/gauntlets in NASA photos. Gold: The NASA 1969 gauntlet worn by James Burke covers the hardware to the top of the join with the convoluted rubber joints, the manufacturer’s recommended length for a gauntlet cuff. Purple: the top of the EVA/training glove displayed by NASA and the NASM and seen in all the Apollo EVA photos; Black: the aluminum ring visible on the white TMG cover and Green: the pressure suit's glove lock
And the blue line: from looking at S69-38889 close up (Figure 30) without knowing anything about these glove shenanigans – this is where the fold back infers that the wrist-glove connection of this EVA training glove would be located – and the mismatch is what originally alerted me to these Apollo suit anomalies.
Below is another picture showing the same principles:
Figure 32 (above). EVA/training glove/gauntlet placed beside a close up view of Aldrin (from AS11-40-5903). It shows the difference in gauntlet cuff length between this glove and the one that Aldrin is wearing on his right hand. The black strap of the Omega watch diverts the eye from the black ring visible above this much shorter cuff.
The glove on the other side of Aldrin’s hand shows how the black ring is located just under the pressure valve and just above the hem of the TMG sleeve. It also shows how the red aluminum disconnect ring on the arm relates to the as yet unconnected red aluminum fixing on the glove.
Compare the black ring in the above picture with the image (Figure 32a left) showing the black ring on Armstrong’s A5L training suit.
Leaving Astronaut Burke without his gauntlets but still standing in his suit, we turn to the gloves photographed during Apollo 11, (Figure 32b left). The NASM has three photos of Aldrin’s EVA gloves on its website. All are listed as ‘flown’. Photos top and bottom of Figure 32c both look like a pair of the Neoprene protection gloves worn over the pressure gloves when in an unpressurized CM or LM.
Sandwiched between them is a Chromel-R EVA/training glove together with a photographer’s color scale lying alongside it – as if to draw attention to this variation of color. It calls to mind the tripod gnomon seen in several of the anomalous Apollo images. Then, the designation of ‘flown’ for all three juxtaposed with the ‘training’ glove, put into question the actual arena in which these gloves were used. Taking the gnomon as a hint to think about these color differences more poetically, suggestions of whistle-blowing again arise – the Neoprene gloves with blue fingertips are reminiscent of the liminal space between sandy land and blue sea; the dark gray EVA/training glove with blue fingertips recalls Earth-based lunar EVA training sessions.
If the NASM website glove data and the photographs in the museum are whistle blows they are getting heard. If all the oddities and muddles are an attempt to fix continuity errors – things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Blue Tips and Hints
From a practical point of view the protective outer glove had blue fingertips for a specific reason. Made of silicon, they were intended to provide extra sensitivity for the astronauts and thereby facilitate the execution of their EVA tasks. Controversially, it is claimed by some astronauts that these gloves actually damaged the astronaut’s fingertips and nails. The Apollo 15 record has accounts of Dave Scott complaining of blood under the nails and fingertips rubbed raw after their lunar EVA work. A photograph of Scott’s bloodied fingernails apparently taken at the post-mission press conference, is now online.15
Notwithstanding evidence coming in from the ISS of delamination occurring during micro gravity EVAs, even by 2019 there is not enough data to fully understand why this is happening. However, it is the Apollo 15 flight crew who decided to play the Air Force (Fight) song during the most critical moment of their mission plan – ascent from the lunar surface – and didn’t care that it interfered with any critical flight communications from Earth. Given the Apollo 15 crew’s previous shenanigans one might ask if this fingertip scenario is yet another joke, a whistle blow, or another attempt to confuse lunar EVAs with LEO micro gravity. BUT Scott’s scenario is actually more plausible when associated with long training sessions here on Earth. Wearing cotton gloves under an EVA/training glove, without a pressure glove underneath, any slippage could aggravate the fingertips and nails of a hand under duress.
Back to Buzz, below are close ups of Buzz Aldrin gripping the handrail while descending the ladder wearing his ‘flown’ gloves. This is significant as we will see later regarding the restricted grip available with the Apollo glove:
Figure 34. Aldrin gripping the handrail of the LM ladder wearing the gray training gloves – his cuff reveals that even though the gauntlet has NOT been folded back, the black ring on his TMG is clearly visible:
Figure 35. Close ups of Buzz Aldrin's cuff revealing the black ring on the TMG suit that should not be visible – the opportunity for dust and debris to enter this glove is obvious, and the pressure disconnect ring below it could lock up due to dust infiltration – note also the two faint lines on the cuff stitching (left image)
If the Apollo TMG glove really was of integrated pressure and gauntlet as stated, it begs the question as to how the astronauts were going to manage when returning to the LM with filthy, dusty gloves. A gauntlet – should it ever be in a real lunar EVA situation – would only need to be pulled on over the top of the actual pressure glove before leaving the LM. And in order to avoid dust contamination, a dirty EVA gauntlet could easily be pulled off prior to opening up the LM, without the astronaut losing pressure. It is even asserted in some accounts that the Apollo 11 astronauts did indeed throw out their version of the EVA gauntlet before departure from the lunar surface. And if that is so, it begs the question as to how the NASM can advertise Buzz Aldrin’s Chromel-R gray glove as ‘flown’.
And while on the subject of wear and tear, here is an Apollo 14 photo of Ed Mitchell's TMG:
Figure 36. Noticeable wear around a suit ring supposed to be impervious to the lunar environment for at least the duration of the Apollo 14 EVAs – and note the black grip ring that clamps the TMG to the joint ring
Remembering that Ed’s suit had that white ‘on location‘ zipper, look at the wear around the disconnect ring of the TMG above – the wear looks like months of use, not some nine hours of lunar EVAs ascribed to their mission. But that’s maybe why we have the stories of angular dust particles on the Moon. (And melting boots – apparently the blue-soled over-boots melted in the hot temperatures of the lunar surface – yet still managed to make all those crisply-defined footprints).
Here on the left an exposed black ring on the TMG suit is clearly visible. A section of the cuff looks to be attached to the black ring along the inner wrist, at point A, thus causing the gaping at the outer side of the wrist. Notwithstanding the extremely light tone of this glove, the fixing location is obvious.
According to NASA’s own documentation, this glove with a short cuff cannot be the gauntlet intended originally for use on the Moon. I think that as a result of continuity/disasters (whistle-blowing spotted far too late) it was necessary to abandon the original extra-long version and adopt the EVA/training glove as the ‘actual EVA glove’. One could justifiably refer to a redesign process for its less than optimal length. Unfortunately, that justification is not going to hold for long – as we shall see.
I have concluded that for those not in the know, everything had to match a valid function on a real space flight. This glove (with a shorter cuff which was attached to the back ring on the training suit) was used everyday for training and it was a copy of the CM in-house Neoprene glove. Discontinuity errors in its regard were dealt with by folding the cuff back on the display gloves. This adopted shorter cuff glove/gauntlet design made it far easier to don and doff the gloves during rehearsals and prolonged photographic studio and filming sessions.
The inevitable conclusion therefore is that all the Apollo EVA photographs are of the costume used for rehearsals and studio simulation photography here on Earth. But the need for training and photography in studios, where they didn't need, or want, a pressure garment meant that the training suit must itself be equipped with the solid helmet and forearm disconnect rings in order to practice wearing helmets and gloves while working.
This is where we meet the second of those two major issues encountered by Astronaut Burke of Tomorrow’s World.
After the long gauntlets had been removed it was time to remove the suit itself. The two ILC assistants positioned themselves in front of Burke, one to each side of his centre line, and having undone the suit along its spine they pushed Burke down into a half-bent position, and proceeded to alternately tug at the suit, and shove at Burke – who might have been regretting his part in the whole affair by then. At times they seemed not know how to proceed, as they couldn't get a proper grip on the suit – the helmet ring seemed to be inhibiting their movements.
Finally they got it over his head and off. Which is when we see he wasn’t even wearing a pressure suit, and all that shoving came into focus. Normally the TMG would not have a hard visor ring attached to it – nor would it have had a black zip, but Velcro fold-over fastening and a Chromel-R patch on its back.
Figure 38. Square of Chromel-R used on the back of the TMG – no longer produced, NASA purchased 50 yards at $5,000.00 a yard for Apollo
The ILC chose instead to show a plain white back to their suit with an ordinary black zipper although recalling the specialist pressure zip, this was on a TMG incapable of retaining any pressure – an irony beyond. This is a completely misleading demo on how the Apollo EVA spacesuit was actually configured. But as Burke commented, “If you can get this [suit] on, then you deserve to go to the Moon.” Yes, indeed, but you wouldn’t get there! Because the white metal neck disconnect ring was from the Mercury and early Gemini flights; the black zipper informed those in the know, including me in this instance, that Astronaut Burke was actually wearing a Gemini suit and not an A7L Apollo suit.
And the fact that the white metal collar was attached to this TMG told me that this too, was a costume. Whether this particular mix-and-match combo was a cry of despair from the ILC or wool over the eyes of the sheepish viewer is up for discussion.
If all the above requires anything further to persuade you that something is seriously awry with the Apollo record, here again is a close view from the famous picture of Aldrin standing alone:
Figure 39. AS11-40-5903, Aldrin standing on the lunar surface wearing the gray glove/gauntlets – note the much longer left hand glove cuff. Neither of these gloves correspond to the original full-length EVA gauntlet published by NASA in 1969, but look closely: Aldrin's left hand with the EVA/training glove is pointing to his right wrist, it could be about his watch but he also seems to point to the totally incorrect shorter-cuffed Neoprene right glove with the exposed black ring
What was happening might or might not be Aldrin’s expressed intention, but it rather appears as if this is a clear whistle blow: the difference in length between these two cuffs is again 27%. It can be concluded that his right glove is modelled on the CM in-house shorter Neoprene glove. While his left glove/gauntlet is modelled on the exhibited gray EVA/training glove. The fact that these two gloves could co-exist on the arms of an astronaut supposedly on the lunar surface is a total nonsense.
All of the confusion over suits and gloves, between what we see and what is really going on, has arisen for one key reason. Checking against other data, it was soon clear why there is such a muddle around the Apollo spacesuit. Experts in the field of spacesuit construction considered the ‘soft suit’ design inadequate for the performance of any EVA – either in LEO or on the lunar surface.
Below is a list of the problems found with this ‘soft suit’. This late 1961 study (two-thirds of the way through the Mercury program) was published by the Russian Zvezda group. It was based on various data resources, including translated US publications on spacesuit research and design, the spacesuit studies by Herman Oberth and the experience of the Russian Zvezda group. During the space race most development was project oriented, but the Zvezda formed its own separate R&D group in 1952. Its scientists studied the evolution of full pressure high altitude pilots' suits from the 1930s onwards, with the intention of creating a viable space suit and also a lunar EVA suit.16
By 1961 the conclusion reached was that the soft full pressure suit plus a removable PLSS was not the optimum solution for working outside a spacecraft, NOR on the lunar surface. The principle reasons for this were:
The Russians concluded that:
Figure 40. Typical modern EMU space suit – ILC Dover (Tom Lehman/WBOC)
This EMU has just a single ring connection at the waist mating the lower soft torso to the upper semi-rigid torso
The large semi-rigid space suits worn today by US astronauts outside the ISS are derived from the Russian HUT suit. The US call their version the Extravehicular Mobility Units or EMUs and this has led the public today to confuse the attributes of these ISS suits with the Apollo EMU.
Figure 41. Close view of the upper rigid component of a modern EMU
It is noteworthy that the suits designed today have gloves with a wrist cuff level incorporated into them, but with an overall length matching that of the original Apollo gauntlets. In fact as these ISS EMU gauntlets extend well up the arm (parallel with the top of the notepad) to the robust shoulder padding providing additional radiation protection on the soft part of the suit. And these suits are only going to be remaining below the Van Allen radiation belts.
Figure 42. EMU suits today have gloves with an incorporated wrist cuff level
There is a big difference between a suit designed for use in low-Earth orbit, where a micro gravity environment obtains and an EVA suit designed for the 1/6th gravity of the lunar surface. But back in 1965, during Gemini and on into Apollo, confusion set in, for the public at least, when NASA adopted the term EMU for the Apollo suits – applying it to both the intravehicular suit, as well as the EVA suit – thereby conflating these two different space environments in the public’s mind.
Maybe that was the idea, because from the evidence thus far the Apollo suits really did have some serious reliability issues, which made a crewed trip beyond LEO and an EVA on the Moon as impossible in the 1960s – as it still is today. The Apollo soft suit has now been dumped (along with virtually all the Apollo hardware). Consigned to museums and the history books today – but back in the USA in the 1960s, despite the Soviet views on such matters, it was decided to continue the Apollo program with the soft-suit shuffle.
Perhaps it didn't matter a jot if the show was the thing and they weren’t actually going very far after all.
Figure 43. Space suit engineer Amy Ross MSc demonstrates restricted hand movement and grip during her tutorial: Glove 101 (NESC Academy)
As for the Apollo pressure glove’s mobility, charitably, Amy Ross considers that the Apollo astronauts did very well considering the limited capabilities of the time – and observes that with only limited motion in the fingers they would also have had great difficulty in managing any dexterity in their hands. Amy Ross stresses that,
What that means in practice is that when this is pressurized there is little to no, mostly no mobility below that joint... So if you see them drop their hammers, it’s for a good reason.
You may well ask that if there is "mostly no mobility" when wearing a pressurized glove, how did the Apollo astronauts grip handrails, tools and twist slim flagpoles. Below is a close up from image AS12-46-6790, Alan Bean during Apollo 12 uses the fuel transfer tool allegedly wearing his pressurized gloves and somehow he manages to successfully hold and grip the tool rod:
Figure 44. Alan Bean (Apollo 12) using the fuel transfer tool despite the pressurized gloves having 'mostly no mobility'
Figure 34 (repeated). Buzz Aldrin gripping the handrail while descending the ladder
As for their movement, Amy Ross thinks that the hopping and stiff walking was due to the limitations of the suits causing locked hips. While agreeing somewhat with that – it’s worth pointing out that wearing an under harness with a connection to a weight-relieving wire suspension rig would more likely result in the various odd motions ascribed to these astronauts. But that’s another story, see Appendix 1.
Figure 45. On October 16, 2019 NASA revealed the new Artemis lunar EVA suit, a cousin to the ISS suits. This suit confirms the validity of the Zvezda group findings and bears no resemblance to the Apollo suits. NASA/Joel Kowsky
Today we think of Buzz Aldrin as someone who wears numerous rings and a lot of crystal jewelry – who also has a serious interest in watches – he often wears two on the same wrist. He has been known to wear a regular necktie and a bow tie at the same time on official NASA business. Whether this is simply Buzz being Buzz or a symbolic reference to his two space missions, when it came to the 50th anniversary Buzz was notably absent from the July 16th commemoration of the Apollo 11 launch at the Cape.
So it could be that Buzz is referencing the twins of Gemini rather than Apollo and even Gemini 12, High Noon, his own mission.
Over the two days of July 16 and 17 he did tweet two photos and comments about Apollo 11. The first showed an unsmiling tense Buzz, looking straight to the camera lens his arms and hands thrust towards the camera. His left hand was angled towards his right hand. The second showed a joyful smiling Buzz, celebrating his days of being an Air Force pilot. Another set of 'spot the difference' photos.
On July 19 Buzz did turn up at the Oval Office for an Apollo 11 moment, during which a discussion about the future of space travel ensued. Buzz Aldrin, disappointed with the state of human space exploration over the past 15 years, is an advocate of getting to Mars directly, Collins also voted for the Mars direct approach. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, noting that "Because of the planetary alignments, launches to Mars can occur only every 26 months and even then the trip is seven months each way”, preferred the Moon first, Mars second approach. President Donald Trump, not in the loop, asked "What happens if you miss the timing? They’re in deep trouble?" And added “You don’t want to be on that ship."
Summary of key complications and shortcomings
It is abundantly clear that the black ring adjoining the wrist disconnects on the TMG should not be visible in the lunar surface photographs. No doubt this was done in the expectation that at some point in the future this anomaly would be investigated.
This space suit business is highly confusing and complex – which is in all probability intentional. We have shown that NASA refers to the ‘Apollo spacesuit’ as if it were an ‘all-in-one’ item, but back in the 1960s this was not the case. A crewed Apollo mission required three basic configurations of dress, all designed for different situations. For the purposes of the Apollo program’s success, these mix-and-match items were reduced down to one single costume for the Apollo photography – and this included all the filming with astronauts and/or actors as well as the generation of all those thousands of still images. If the shorter-cuffed glove made it easier to don and doff the gloves during rehearsals and prolonged photographic studio and filming sessions, the whole issue of gloves provided opportunities for whistle-blowing by those who cared (see Appendix 1).
Until the serious problems with Apollo have been recognized for what they are, no spacecraft are going anywhere of consequence – and space engineers reworking the technologies from Apollo in order to build Orion and begin to fulfil the Artemis segment of the former Constellation program are beginning to find that out for themselves – as can be read elsewhere on Aulis Online. The spacesuit anomalies presented here are further demonstrations of obvious fakery of the record.
In 2010, Buzz Aldrin said that the Apollo Moon landings were not a historic event, but a stunt, and that going to Mars would be a historic event.17 The spacesuit anomalies presented here are further demonstrations of obvious fakery of the record. These criticisms are not written to denigrate the Apollo astronauts caught in a web not of their making, but in an effort to help those who, like Buzz Aldrin, would like to realise the dream of sending astronauts to Mars, safely and honestly.18
The final word goes to Gene Cernan, in 2016:
"I've said for a long time [and] I still believe it, it's going to be – well it's almost 50 now – but fifty or a hundred years in the history of mankind before we look back and really understand the meaning of Apollo," stated Cernan in 2007. "We did it way too early considering what we're doing now in space. It's almost as if JFK [President John F. Kennedy] reached out into the 21st century where we are today, grabbed hold of a decade of time, slipped it neatly into the 60s and 70s and called it Apollo.” 19
Scott Henderson and Aulis Editors
Aulis Online, September 2019
Having concluded that these suits were actually costumes for photography and filming, another item would have been needed to achieve the 1/6g effect. The astronauts would have to appear to be walking and working under a much reduced gravity in the Apollo imagery – rather difficult to achieve solely with slow motion filming. One key component of the under garments actually worn for the Apollo photography would have included an under harness for relieving the performer's weight.
A means of achieving this result would be to wear a harness like the one in the illustration. Worn around the hip a pair of wires would be attached to either side of the hip joint at the lower back, linking to a single wire which would be passed through an aperture in the upper back of the costume. This would enable the astronaut/actor to have up to 45% if his weight reduced for the full effect.
A single 5mm approx monofilament of support wire connected to the body harness would in turn be connected to the special weight-relieving rigs running above the studio sets, as suggested in the illustration top left.
The purpose of such a rig would be to provide a counter weight which would average around 40% of the weight of the astronaut/actor, although depending on filming speeds relative to the distance of the astronauts from the camera, other counter weight percentages could also be selected.
This arrangement would facilitate the wire-assisted simulation of 1/6g and thereby enable effective and convincing creation of the TV coverage and still images – including those infamous jump salute photographs.
In order to use a version of the A7L suit for simulations and studio photography/filming a suitable lightweight PLSS would require little more than a fitted radio transmitter/receiver and a cooling fan to circulate air, with batteries to power them. A plastic outer case covered with the white abrasion material would do the job. There was a square opening at the bottom of the PLSS that would an ideal air intake point.
The liquid cooling garment would not be required, nor of course would the pressure suit need to be worn. A bubble helmet wouldn't be needed under the outer visor helmet. The astronaut/actors would therefore be able to flip open the visor between takes and set ups. The gloves wouldn't have to be securely connected – they would only need to be fixed/pinned at the gauntlet. Such an arrangement would then permit air to pass through the suit sleeves – and similarly with the boots. The original fly flap at the front of the suit would be essential for bathroom breaks. And of course the sunglasses pocket was intended for people like me, Scott, to write songs about these shenanigans.
Regarding the fact that the Extra Vehicular Visor Assembly deformed, draping over the bubble helmet under Thermal/vacuum testing, the account from NASA space suit expert Jim McBarron tends to fall down on several points. Tracking this outer helmet evolution reveals that it was already understood well before March 1969, that the EVA helmet was not fit for purpose. Because the NASA Apollo 9 mission report already has that (our Figure 3) apparel illustration which shows a soft TMG covering around the neck of the EVA helmet. But then Mc Barron’s presentation ascribes the wrong dates to the 1968 Apollo 7 (a year too late, and a week short) and the 1969 Apollo 10 (a year too early) – which no one at his 2015 presentation seemed to notice. But something else was picked up, and it was a good question. McBarron was asked why his photos of Apollo missions 8 and 10 showed two of the astronauts wearing EVA suits, when no one was going outside the craft.
Jim Mc Barron, sounding as if he was making it up on the hoof, replied that the suits were changed just before the mission, patches were added and connections removed. Sensing that wasn’t working for the questioner, he added that this was done back at ILC – and not ‘in the field’ (at NASA). This answer didn’t really work either, not least because ILC Dover documentation clearly states that the Apollo 8 crew were issued with special Intravehicular spacesuits, as they were trying out a new Super-Beta covering on the these suits and they did not have the EVA connectors as they were not going on an EVA.
The questioner certainly knew that; and that NASA photos of the Apollo 8 walkout (and Apollo 10) show the astronauts wearing the EVA TMG; and that when the 1975 ASTP mission had walked out, they all did wear intra-vehicular fittings, because they weren’t going outside either! (Figure 28.) So there was still a slight air of disbelief and puzzlement lingering in the room, which McBarron must surely have registered because he moved swiftly on to the next costume change, apparently instigated after Apollo 10. With more gear not fit for purpose as the date for Apollo 11 approached, the sun visor for Apollo 11, (which on Figure 13 can be seen as transparent) was changed to a Polysulfone material. If it was this change which rendered it opaque, that too was done before the Apollo 9 photographs were taken.
Nothing is what it seems in the evolution of the Apollo spacesuit and its accessories. However, a new phase of the Apollo program must have been reached because there had been another change of name. The hard EVA helmet of Apollo 9 was dubbed the the Lunar EVA (LEVA) for Apollo 11. And that opaque sun visor proved to have other useful qualities: it was impossible to see who or what was inside the suit, and it gave the photographers all those arty visor reflection shots seen in the Apollo 11 EVAs.
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