The Seamstress Behind Apollo 11’s Spacesuits

Talk about threading the needle in more ways than one. If it wasn’t for Jo Thompson, the first manned mission to land on the moon could have ended in disaster. She was part of a team of elite seamstresses employed by ILC Dover—a company famous for making Playtex bras—to sew spacesuits for Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. The job was technical, and the pressure was intense. Precision was literally a matter of life and death⁠—one errant needle hole, even a tiny prick, would have compromised the spacesuits. To this day, Thompson is proud of her role in the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing. We join her at her Delaware home to talk sewing and space exploration.

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