Greenville's Role in the Moon Landing

Developed historic space suits

Evan Smith
July 19, 2019 - 3:00 pm
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Greenville is, of course, an area whose history is inextricably linked the textile industry. But that history also has hidden layers about which many might not be aware, especially when it comes to Greenville County’s role in the first moon landing.

During the 1960s, Slater Mill in northern Greenville County was tasked with completing a top secret NASA project.

Not even the workers knew the truth about what they were working on.

Still, the small town workers were so skilled that NASA needed them to get the job done.

The goal behind the secret project was to create a “beta-fabric” that could resist intense heat.  

After a tragic fire claimed the lives of the Apollo 1 astronauts during a test run, the original nylon-based suits needed to be replaced with materials that were entirely fire-resistant.

What Slater Mill came up with is actually a fabric made from glass. Only the supervisors at the mill knew the secret behind the work that was being done, sworn to not even reveal the truth to their spouses.

Ultimately, that material would be the same material worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they took those historic first steps.

Which is why today, Slater Mill is known as the “mill that went to the moon.”

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