A central Delaware manufacturer that became well known as the maker of space suits for NASA astronauts is now involved in several projects designed to make life safer for Americans, and for members of the military serving overseas.

ILC Dover developed a high-tech blimp, the Persistent Threat Detection System, that floats above dangerous or sensitive areas to gather information about conditions and possible threats.  Two members of Delaware's Congressional Delegation visited the ILC site at the Kent County Aeropark Tuesday to celebrate ILC's production of its 100th PTDS.

"This is all about homeland security," Senator Tom Carper (D-Del) said.  "Most people in this state, most people in this country would be amazed at the great work that's going on here at this facility to protect the troops, and to protect folks in this state of ours and in this country." 

ILC Dover officials and engineers also displayed what's called a Resilient Tunnel Plug.  It's large, flexible, and when inflated, is shaped like an egg and is designed to isolate sections of tunnels in the event of flooding, the release of chemical or biological agents or other threats. 

"When it deploys, it seals the tunnel," ILC Dover Senior Project Engineer Jeff Roushey said.  "Then the tunnel can be repaired, the threat can be removed - then, the plug is no longer needed." 

The RTP project developed out of previous programs funded by NASA. 

While these projects may contribute to the overall safety of the country, Senator Chris Coons (D-Del) pointed out that they also keep at least 110 employees of ILC Dover on the job. 

"We're doing everything we can to make sure that products like these that are invented in Delaware are manufactured in Delaware, and that our schools and our community continue to support high-quality, high-tech manufacturing businesses," Coons said.