In the vast expanse of outer space, where the cosmos meets the courage of human exploration, astronauts rely on a carefully curated toolkit to navigate the challenges beyond our atmosphere. Among the array of specialized equipment, one might find a peculiar yet indispensable item – the astronaut's folding knife. This seemingly ordinary tool, when adapted for space missions, becomes a crucial asset for a myriad of tasks, demonstrating that even in the vacuum of space, the utility of a well-designed folding knife knows no bounds.
The Historic M-1: NASA's First Knife
Dating back to the Gemini missions of the 1960s, NASA introduced the M-1, a machete that has since become an iconic part of an astronaut's gear. Manufactured by W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. the M-1 was commissioned for the Gemini and Apollo missions, designed as part of a survival kit that would allow astronauts to survive for two days should they land off-target after re-entry and need to wait to be retrieved by NASA. Its lightweight handle, an 11.5-inch blade, and saw teeth along the back made it more versatile than a conventional machete.
The M-1's adaptability was evident in its design – the blunt base of the blade facilitated prying, and the saw teeth allowed for cutting through various materials. In the unpredictable environment of space travel, where capsules could potentially splashdown in equatorial jungles, the M-1 was a versatile survival tool. Its legacy endures, symbolizing the fusion of practicality and historical significance in space exploration.
Leatherman's Orbit: An Improvised Innovation
Space missions often demand resourcefulness and adaptability. Astronauts, armed with the knowledge that every tool counts, sometimes find themselves improvising with the equipment at hand. Enter the Leatherman, a multi-tool renowned for its versatility on Earth but, surprisingly, equally invaluable in outer space. One astronaut shared an anecdote (which you can read here) about using a Leatherman tool during a spacewalk to address an unexpected issue with a water supply bag. The tool's adaptability and diverse functions make it a practical companion, showcasing that even in the unforgiving vacuum of space, Earthly innovations - particularly folding pocket knives - find their place.
Benchmade goes to the Moon
Benchmade Knives, a symbol of American craftsmanship for over 30 years, is set to make history as the Benchmade 916SBK-ORG Triage folding pocket knife knife joins astronauts on NASA's Artemis missions to the Moon. This signifies a monumental moment for Benchmade, showcasing their precision-engineered tools in the uncharted realm of space exploration. The Triage®'s selection for Artemis II, the first crewed lunar voyage in nearly five decades, underscores Benchmade's dedication to crafting top-tier tools. Tailored for first responders, the Triage® seamlessly incorporates toughness, reliability, and versatility, featuring the Axis® Lock, carbide glass breaker, and reversible pocket clip. Launching in November 2024, Artemis II will spotlight the Triage® in action, providing astronauts with a reliable tool for diverse tasks in their Orion spacesuits. Boasting a corrosion-resistant N680 blade, ambidextrous AXIS® lock, and a folding hook for damage-free material cutting, the Triage® exemplifies Benchmade's commitment to delivering tools that excel even in the harshest environments, transcending earthly confines to become an integral part of lunar exploration with NASA.