As space exploration became a national priority for the US government in the 1950s and 60s, NASA repeatedly turned to Velcro Companies.
Space travel presented a wide range of engineering challenges and VELCRO® Brand fasteners provided a perfect solution against the perils of weightlessness.
As a result, Velcro Companies worked closely with NASA during the space race to develop custom hook and loop fasteners that were resistant to the harsh environment of space travel. Read on to find out about some of the amazing uses of VELCRO® Brand fasteners in space.
Uses for VELCRO® Brand fasteners in space
Space Suits & Helmets
During the Apollo space program, VELCRO® Brand fasteners were widely used on the astronauts’ space suits to secure pockets, food and drink ports, checklists and other essential items.
Some astronauts even built VELCRO® Brand hook and loop tape into their helmets so they could scratch their noses in outer space!
Here is the space suit that Neil Armstrong wore during the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, which heavily features VELCRO® Brand fasteners!
“We couldn’t fly without it. Astronauts consider VELCRO® Brand fasteners so handy to tack things up, to prevent them from floating in weightlessness, that they would paper the walls with it if they had their way.”
– NASA testimonial, 1969
One of the most famous uses of VELCRO® Brand fasteners in space was on the Apollo 11 astronauts’ watches. While wearing a space suit, the extra long VELCRO® Brand strap would fasten securely around the astronaut’s sleeve.
“The fire-resistant VELCRO® Brand tape developed for the Apollo program was used on all equipment, food bags – everything not permanently attached to the spacecraft – as well as the astronauts’ space suits, and the interior of the spacecraft itself.”
– Velcro Companies Annual Report, 1969
On the spacecraft
On board Apollo 11, VELCRO® Brand fasteners were used to secure important pieces of scientific equipment and prevent them floating in weightlessness.
Nearly all items within American spacecraft featured VELCRO® Brand fastening solutions that enabled astronauts to prevent all manner of items from floating away – from scientific instruments and writing utensils to food bags.
And since the fasteners operated independently of all spaceship systems, astronauts could rely on VELCRO® Brand in the event of mechanical or electrical malfunctions.
Did NASA invent VELCRO® Brand fasteners?
Despite being widely used during the space race, the hook and loop fastener was not invented by NASA. Hook and loop fasteners were invented by George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer who became inspired by nature when burdock burrs stuck to his dog’s fur during a walk through the Alps.
After eight years of close investigation into the way the burdock burr’s ‘hooks’ clung to the ‘loops’ of his dog’s fur, George de Mestral invented the hook and loop fastener, which has become one of the most famous examples of biomimicry in history.
Want to find out more about the fascinating history of the VELCRO® Brand? Stay on our blog!