Apollo 11 landed on the moon 50 years ago. It was a small step for man but a giant leap for mankind, and part of the credit goes to a Connecticut manufacturing and engineering firm.
“This company helped put a man on the moon,” exclaimed Sen. Richard Blumenthal after he and Gov. Ned Lamont toured Milford’s Air-Lock Incorporated, Monday.
“We want to remind everybody, the key role Connecticut played in getting somebody up on the moon,” added Lamont.
Having already worked on projects related to the Mercury and Gemini space missions in the 1950s and 1960s, Air-Lock was asked to develop a number of critical components for Apollo 11.
Brian Battisti, the president and general manager of Air-Lock, escorted the senator and governor today, explaining various components they developed for the Apollo mission.
“The neck disconnect, a lot of the water and air connectors are things we designed and manufactured,” said Battisti.
Another component is a coupling known as the glove disconnect, “It helps the crew members take their gloves on and off while he’s getting into the suit,” said Battisti, demonstrating how the connector allows astronauts to detach their gloves from the suit’s sleeve.
This and other technology helped insure Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s safety as they walked on the moon 50 years ago.
Perhaps though the most noticeable item were the suits’ face shields and helmet assembly, also developed by Air-Lock.
“The helmet assembly is what’s keeping the air inside the suit and maintaining pressure and letting the guy breathe.” said Battisti. “The visor assembly goes over the helmet. That’s what’s providing the protection from the cold, from the heat and from the radiation of the sun.”
Air-Lock remains dedicated to the current space program. They say 60 percent of their business is dedicated to NASA, focusing on the international space station and the goal of putting a man back on the moon, something Senator Blumenthal insists will happen.
“We will land again there,” said Blumenthal, “and we will have human beings travel within our solar system.”