Brassieres and Moonsuits: How the Cancer Moonshot is just the latest boob-moon connection.

The Renia Moon Rocket drawing by Sam circa 2004
The Renia Moon Rocket drawing by Sam circa 2004

Looking up at the big beautiful moon this weekend I started to think about the Cancer MoonShot, and other historical attempts to address cancering. Nixon is known for many things; lying, opening up relations with China, and of course declaring war on mutated cells. This has not been nearly as successful as Kennedy’s goal to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade in 1961. (Well that is if you believe that we sent someone to the moon – there are those who doubt…)

You actually can’t declare war on cells. Or on poverty for that matter, as Johnson tried in 1964. Perhaps all the presidential strategy and briefing notes for Vietnam somehow got mixed up with the notes from the departments of Health and Human services?  I think maybe the real story is that these “wars” of Nixon and Johnson’s were really announcements to declare terror campaigns against those with cancer and or living in poverty.  I wasn’t there though, so we will never know. Though it does seem that there has definitely been a lot of terror as a consequence of public policy in regards to poverty and cancer. Hmmmm.

Anyway this year Vice President Biden launched the Cancer Moonshot program to get serious on addressing the ever increasing impacts of cancer. The idea being to make it easier for various parties to communicate and theoretically be more effective. The goal is to find immunological therapies to relieve suffering. Since the War on Cancer was a total bust, it looks like we are heading to the moon again. (Note Pun.)

My oldest is always up on all things space and or nuclear. Not necessarily in that order. This is an old affliction of his. I think he actually might have been part of the Apollo Mission or the Manhattan Project in another life. Anyway he shares many details with me about these topics. The other day he woke up and came down to tell me that he actually had some facts that I really Really needed to know about.  “Trust me you will like these facts.” he said. (I am sorry to say I am not always so receptive of some of his intel.)

Seamstress Working on an Apollo Space suit.
Seamstress Working on an Apollo Space suit.

FACT #1 The Apollo Space Suits were designed and sewn by folks who design and sew brassieres.

(Not to be confused with Braziers – which are holders for hot coals. Though if you are a hot enough babe does your brassiere transition into a brazier??? And more importantly can I be hot enough with just one “hot coal” in my brassiere for it to become a brazier?)

Yep that’s right. Playtex corporation made the Apollo space suits. It is a story with intrigue and enough misogyny to make your hair curl if you are a feminist. But in the end the seamstresses win out. Those sewing gals had the skill and the smarts to make the suits. Which by the way have not changed that much since. Their original designs are still part of the space program kit.  The story is documented in a book from MIT Press; Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo written by Nicholas de Monchaux. There is supposedly a movie being made about it too. Lets hope it makes it to the big screen.

If the Breast is the ultimate symbol of femininity and nurturing, how absolutely perfect that the Apollo astronauts were protected as they ventured forth into the unknown by an extension of the power of the boob. Sam was absolutely right, I love it.

ladies working together towage a LOL board for Apollo.
Ladies working together to weave a LOL board for Apollo.

FACT #2 Little Old Ladies made the Apollo on board navigation memory system.

The Apollo onboard computer was made by textile workers. These gals hand wove tiny copper wires into the Rope Memory switch boards in a pattern created by MIT code writers. The MIT engineers referred to it as LOL memory, for Little Old Lady memory. (Not to be confused with Laugh Out Loud memory, which is something that makes you giggle inappropriately days after a humorous event, and is something completely different.) This was no laughing matter. (SIDE NOTE: The ladies were likely only “old” in comparison to the 20-something young engineers writing the code for the read only memory.) These boards had to be absolutely perfectly made, with zero margin for errors, and those ladies rocked it. One woman is quoted as saying that the thought that those astronauts were someone’s son, similar to her own children, gave her the motivation to do the incredibly tedious and painstaking work that would keep them safe.

So if you believe that we put a man on the moon, know that women put him there using the power of love to fuel them. Just like Bobby Weir says. “Women are smarter. That’s right.” Heart smarts I say.

I am thinking that if we engage more women in the current Moonshot effort to find an immune system approach to help people stop cancering, we will perhaps meet with more success than the Nixon plan. If we keep our whole attention on the microscopic scale we are likely to continue to miss the mark. Cancer is, if nothing else, very complicated and incredibly diverse in its presentations. I am hoping that when the heart know-how of women is applied to this Moonshot that we will discover that women hold some key insights on how to address health and wellbeing. Like the sewing and weaving skills of those textile workers proved key to the Apollo mission.

I say it is the end of patriarchy and long past time to evoke more of the nurture culture Divine Feminine. We have been missing out on the power of the feminine for way too long. I am not against men, after all I live with 3 wonderful fellas, I want to acknowledge that patriarchy is pretty much bad for everyone. The divine feminine is within all of us, and it is not linear, it is incredibly creative and fierce. Just as our cancering cells are. If we turn our attention to addressing the cellular acting out that is cancer with love rather than hate – well then we might just start to get somewhere. Maybe even the Moon.

Luna Bella.
Luna Bella.

Here are some articles with more information:

The SpaceSuit Story: (the Image of the seamstress is from this article.)

Little Old Lady Navigation: (the Image of the weavers is from this article.)

Cancer Moonshot Program:

… And a little Grateful Dead to improve your day, because well, just because.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sue Skinner says:

    Well, that was lovely. Looking forward to many LOLs as a result. And Sam as a Manhattan Project engineer reborn–YES!

    Much love and gratitude,little sister–

    Sue S

    1. Iridacea says:

      Definitely more LOL.

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