The BBC article Doctors explain Michael Jackson's impossible dance move describes the recently published article in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine How did Michael Jackson challenge our understanding of spine biomechanics?.

The BBC mentions that:

It's said that he and two Hollywood colleagues borrowed the footwear idea from US astronauts' boots, which can be docked to a fixed rail when working in zero gravity.

US Patent granted: US5255452A Method and means for creating anti-gravity illusion

Question: What astronaut boots might these be, and to what do they attach specifically?

More about the equipment here.

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above left: From here. right: GIF from here.


1 Answer 1


From looking at the patent, there are triangular or wedge-shaped cutouts in the heel of the shoe which interface with "bolts" protruding from the floor.

Current US EVA suit boots have "foot restraint interfaces" that look like a heel as explained here: Why do astronauts wear heels?. But that does not look much like the Jackson patent.

Skylab astronauts were provided with shoes with special cleats that locked into the open triangular floor grids. (also discussed in this questions: Are magnetic boots in space practical?) enter image description here enter image description here

This is kind of the inverse of what's in the Jackson patent but the patent version is way more practical for walking on a regular floor.

I am unaware of any other foot restraints used in the US space program which use special footgear (there are various straps, etc used but special footgear is not required for these). Given the choice of these two, I'd vote for the Skylab shoes.

Skylab shoe image source

  • $\begingroup$ I'd forgotten about the "heels" question already, and don't know much about Skylab at all. Thanks, I'll take a look at these. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 22, 2018 at 15:31

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