Suiting Up for 'First Man': Ryan Gosling Digs His Authentic NASA Spacesuits

From his career as a test pilot to his famous first steps on the moon, Neil Armstrong donned all kinds of interesting outfits at work. While filming the new Armstrong biopic "First Man," lead actor Ryan Gosling got to look and feel like the real Neil while wearing some of the astronaut's most iconic suits.

In an interview at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Gosling told reporters that he had "a lot of appreciation and admiration for the suits themselves and the way they had been made." When real NASA astronauts were on the set, he said they all gave the authentic-looking spacesuit replicas "the seal of approval ... and that felt good."

Using archival images from a NASA database, costume designer Mary Zophres said she "was able to research exactly what the astronauts were wearing at any given time," according to a statement by Universal Pictures, the studio behind the film. "NASA's database is like a treasure trove of information," Zophres said. "We go from X-15 to Gemini V to Gemini VIII to Apollo 1 and then Apollo 11. As the space program progressed, the documentation of it became more and more intense. As the country got closer to Apollo 11, they documented it more thoroughly." [Gallery: Evolution of the Spacesuit

Neil Armstrong poses with the X-15 experimental aircraft on April 20, 1962. (Image credit: NASA)

The movie opens with a nail-biting scene depicting a time in which Armstrong nearly met his end during a 1962 test flight of the X-15 experimental aircraft. In the movie trailer above (starting at the 30-second mark), you can see Gosling's Armstrong fight to gain control of the aircraft while descending back to Earth from an altitude of over 207,000 feet (63 kilometers). That's roughly two-thirds of the way to the edge of space. In this scene, Gosling dons a baggy, metallic bodysuit

This shiny garment is "basically a loose-fitting bag shaped like a human with rings at the wrists and neck to attach the gloves and helmet," NASA officials said in a statement. "If the cockpit depressurizes, the suit inflates to maintain a safe atmospheric pressure around the occupant until the aircraft has reached a low enough altitude for the suit to deflate."

Christopher Abbott plays NASA astronaut Dave Scott and Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in "First Man." Scott and Armstrong were crewmates during the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)

When Armstrong launched on his first spaceflight in 1966 — the Gemini 8 in-orbit rendezvous and docking mission that almost killed him (again) — he wore a slightly modified version of the X-15 pressure suit known as the G4C.

These flexible spacesuits are made of nylon and are better-insulated to protect against extreme temperatures in space. This was the same spacesuit worn by NASA astronaut Ed White during the first U.S. spacewalk. In "First Man," Gosling and Christopher Abbott, who plays the NASA astronaut and Gemini 8 pilot Dave Scott, both wear these Gemini spacesuits.

NASA technicians help Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) into his Apollo 11 spacesuit in this scene from the movie "First Man." (Image credit: Daniel McFadden)

Last but certainly not least, Gosling got to slip into the iconic Apollo 11 spacesuit. Officially known as an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), this bulky, white suit allows astronauts to spend extended periods of time outside of their spacecraft. Armstrong used one to walk on the moon. EMUs serve as portable life-support systems, whereas earlier spacesuits required the astronaut to be tethered to a spacecraft.

Gosling wore a carefully crafted replica of the Apollo 11 spacesuit for the movie, and the suit Armstrong wore is currently housed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Email Hanneke Weitering at or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.