moon landing apollo mission

Journalist Recounts the Race to the Moon 50 Years Later

Jul 5, 2019
Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center showing the flight controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on Jul 24, 1969.

It was the late 1950s and the nation embraced a race to space fueled by the Cold War.  Journalist Mark Bloom wasn’t yet 30 years-old.  But he would chase the story long after Apollo 11 landed and men took their first steps on the moon.

“I was in the right place at the right time, actually throughout my career,” says Bloom.  “Of course you have to know what you’re doing when you get there.”

There's South Carolina Gold in Them Thar Rockets

Jul 2, 2019
Spun gold. These shiny bands are actually a fiber soft enough to make space suits with and tough enough to shield firefighters (and astronauts) from flames.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

Forgive yourself if you can’t pronounce “polybenzimidizole,” much less know what it’s used for. But if you ever went to the moon, you were sure glad to have it on your skin.  

Familiarly, polybenzimidizole goes by the much more vocally friendly name of PBI. It’s a twill-like material made by, fittingly, PBI Performance Products in Rock Hill. The company makes polymers, solutions, and films for industrial purposes, but the Rock Hill plant is the only place in the world that manufactures the company’s most visible product, PBI staple fiber.