We Went to the Moon, and Kept Going

Apollo Continues to Inspire Innovation at ILC Dover

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we are thinking about how ILC Dover’s “Beyond Boundaries™” culture continues the bold innovation that put humans on the moon and brought them safely back to earth. We are undeniably proud of our role in a venture that challenged our nation to think beyond what was possible at the time. Was it possible to travel to the moon, land, and return?

And, was it possible for humans to walk and work, untethered, on the lunar surface? We answered that question with our Apollo mission spacesuits.

Innovation is in our DNA

Looking back, the answers came out of our ILC Dover DNA. Our experience with high-performance materials goes back to the life rafts, flexible attack boats and canteens we developed for America’s troops in World War II. That also established our focus on protecting people and things.

In the 1950s, we extended that expertise and focus into aerospace with a fully pressurized suit demonstrating that it was possible to dramatically enhance a pilot’s mobility while pressurized. We were already thinking beyond the limits of traditional flight.

For ILC Dover and all the companies, scientists, engineers, mathematicians and others involved, the Apollo program was a process of envisioning and solving challenges that humans had never faced before. And it was just the kind of challenge ILC Dover people thrive upon.

 

We continue to push our expertise in materials and manufacturing

Today, the engineers and seamstresses at ILC Dover who designed and built the Apollo spacesuits continue to inspire us to push our ingenuity in materials and manufacturing. I see their creative legacy in all our product lines and businesses. The Apollo spacesuit took various separate layers to create fabric that could provide life support, protection from micro-meteorites, space dust and radiation. At the same time, it gave astronauts the flexibility to climb a ladder, walk and work with their hands on a lifeless, extraterrestrial surface.

  • The creative problem-solving that gave the astronauts gloves they could use on the moon and protection from space dust and micro-meteorites continues with our containment and processing solutions for pharmaceutical and biopharm.
  • The passion for protecting human life in the harshest of conditions is behind our personal safety products, including powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs), escape respirators and Chemturion suits.
  • We expanded that passion into protecting vital infrastructure from flooding, innovating beyond traditional rigid barriers with flexible gate, wall, cover and plug systems.
  • And while we’re thinking big, ILC Dover is a leading manufacturer of lighter-than-air vehicles, including passenger blimps, heavy-lifting blimps and tethered aerostats for military and border surveillance.
  • That same thinking is behind inflatable decelerators and impact bags for payloads entering extraterrestrial atmospheres or re-entering earth’s atmosphere. It has already taken us beyond the moon and to Mars: our landing system was used with the Mars Voyager and Pathfinder missions.
  • We focused on customer challenges and applied our engineering talents to develop packaging solutions that improve the processing of liquids for customers in the food, beverage, personal care, chemical and industrial applications.
  • We’ve also developed inflatable space habitats for use in orbit around the earth and on the surface of the moon and planets.
  • And, of course, we’re still building spacesuits, including every suit used by NASA since Apollo. Our recently announced commercial spacesuits will protect the private explorers and tourists who will travel beyond the bounds of earth.

Yes, we are proud to be part of the Apollo story. The ILC Dover employees who worked on that mission continue to inspire us. We went to the moon. But we didn’t stop there. Every day, we embody our mission: Beyond Boundaries™.