In this photo, October 16, 2018, Bob Davidson holds pieces of composite fabric that would ultimately lead to the design…
Photo: Burt Constable, AP
ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (AP) – An electric engineer working for the volatile NASA space program, Bob Davidson, was three months in his job in 1962 when he learned that his project had been scrapped. Instead, he would have the chance to work on a new company with a division of Playtex.
“Playtex? Bra and the belt company?” asked a doubtful Davidson. “And they said,” Yes. “”
And that was Davidson, 76, who retired and lived in Rolling Meadows, talked to Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as he helped to design the revolutionary spacecraft they had carried on men’s first rose on the moon on July 20, 1969. They were not upgraded airplanes. They were more like a spacious spacecraft.
“We had to build them to reach 220 degrees below zero and 280 degrees above zero,” says Davidson when sitting in his living room and thumb through the 17 layers of some of the material used in the outer shell of these the dragons, which are made to withstand all that the moon can throw on them. While some materials resembled those found in the firefighting suits used by racing drivers and the clothes wearing the coat rags, the space jackets also featured new materials such as “aluminized mylar” and “Beta fabric-Teflon-coated silica fibers.”
Designed to protect Against “micrometeoroid bombardment” from spots that zip through space that can puncture most materials, the trailing layer includes “ripstop tape” and patterned holes that would prevent a small puncture becoming a big rip. 19659033] Not only did the costumes contain astronauts, they had to allow the men to move under a pressure of 14 pounds of air per square inch. Each suit was a perfect fit, so they took 180 measurements on the astronauts body and designed angles and swivels for each joint.
“The hardest thing to do was the fingers in gloves,” says Davidson, and noted how astronauts needed to retrieve things and adjust controls. “The gloves were extremely complex.”
Davidson and a team of 20 engineers also equipped the space colors with a communication system that enabled Armstrong and Aldrin to chat with each other, communicate with astronaut Michael Collins, who circled the moon, talking to a communications center on earth where 500 million people watched and heard their broadcast from the surface of the moon.
“And we’re having trouble getting a good signal on our cell phones here,” said David’s wife Barbara, a former air hostess for Pan-Am World Airways. The 51-year-old has David’s two grown children, Tim and Chrysteen, and a grandson.
On the historic day, while hosting another engineer and his wife in his apartment in Ogletown, Bob Davidson shared the land landing with confidence. “We knew that if we could do this, it would be good at the moon, which has a sixth gravity,” he says.
Rumsuit matched the performance of Armstrong and Aldrin, who was the perfect team for that mission, “said Davidson, who became acquainted with both astronauts. The engineers can spend 10 straight days working directly with the astronauts and then not see them for a month. They went to restaurants together and socialized.
“They were as different as night and day,” says Davidson of the enigmatic Armstrong and the outbound Aldrin. “Buzz was on” Dancing with the Stars “and you could not even get Neil in the audience.”
Aldrin was a fighter during the Korean War, awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross before he received a Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronauts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Armstrong, whose aeronautical studies at Purdue University were interrupted by the Korean War, flew 78 combat missions before returning to his degree and continued to obtain a master’s degree at the University of Southern California. Armstrong was a talented pilot who pioneered high-speed aircraft, like X-15, reaching 4000 mph.
“We used to drink together,” says Davidson of Aldrin. “Neil liked a cocktail too.”
The reserved Armstrong was a man with few words. “No” is an argument with Neil, says Davidson. “I would say,” Yes, but … “and he would say” No. “
” His hot button, if you wanted a good conversation, was the stock market, “says Davidson, who says Armstrong liked sharing his investment strategy.” I could not close him for three hours. “ Armstrong generally let his actions speak to him.
“He was a go-to guy. He was cool in fire and smart like a whip, “said Davidson, adding that on the moon landing, Armstrong had to shut down the computer and land the module manually with his fuel that was almost gone.
Plansuits were tested in a 32- the tower in the desert and in a plan called the “vomiting comedy” that rose and dampened to give weight loss. With so many materials and tests, Davidson traveled to plants in Texas, California, New York, Alabama, Florida, Arizona and Dover, Delaware, and also took a suit on PR visits to schools and civic organizations around the country. Traveling with a big blue box that reads “Critical Space Flight Item”, Davidson flew first class and was the last passenger on the plane and the first one.
“I made $ 17,000 a year and I calculated that I did 22 cents an hour,” says Davidson. He left NASA in 1972 to work in technical sales with several companies before he founded his own st yr system compa new called the nephew of Naperville. While on NASA, Davidson also worked on Apollo 9 and the memorable Apollo 13, which contained an explosion and a miraculous return to earth that was made into a movie with Tom Hanks.
The new film about Armstrong, “First Man” does a great job of capturing Armstrong’s courage, courage, smartness and cold under pressure, showing the victims many have done to make good the promise to put a man on the moon, says Davidson.
“We are human and we knew the odds were against us, but we also knew it was possible,” says Davidson, proud of his contribution. “The only two things that made it back from the moon are the man and the space color on his back.”
Source: Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, https://bit.ly/2OziucP ___
Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.