Friday, 10 July 2015

How Henry VIII Helped the Astronauts Land on the Moon in 1969

On the face of it the idea of a link sounds implausible and far-fetched and yet when NASA engineers were at a loose end on how to create a strong yet flexible astronaut space suit for a trip to the moon they decide the best option is to look at the King Henry VIII suit of armour.

Throughout the 1950’s they experiment with a variety of designs that will allow astronauts to move unhindered so they can travel around the moon whilst being protected from the atmosphere. The problem they come up against is that the existing options are either very cumbersome or just slightly modified versions of fighter pilot clothing that offer little flexibility. Suddenly in a moment of inspiration one of the engineers argues that perhaps a workable solution already exists if they will only examine the best medieval armour that has been made. So the NASA engineers head off on a mission to find the best examples of medieval armour to assist them in finding a solution to their problem.

Naturally one site they are very interested in looking at is the Tower of London as it is well known for its excellent collection of armour. In 1962 a team arrives in England and examines a suit of armour designed for Henry VIII that was created for 1520 Festival of Cloth the and is held in the Tower of London.

They are astonished at what they find. Looking at it carefully they can see that the layers of armour completely cover the whole body down to the millimetre without restricting flexibility. The solution hit upon hundreds of years ago is to use overlapping layers carefully designed to allow movement without the plates rubbing against one another. When one of the team has a moment to reflect upon this he says that if only they had known this earlier they might have saved themselves years of wasted effort.

If you would like to read more about King Henry VIII then check out

Henry VIII and his infamous Festival of the Cloth of Gold Meeting, 1520.