Beta cloth consists of fine woven silica fiber, similar to fiberglass. The resulting fabric will not burn, and will melt only at temperatures exceeding 650 °C. To reduce its tendency to crease or tear when manipulated, and to increase durability, the fibers are coated with Teflon.
It was implemented in NASA space suits after the deadly 1967 Apollo 1 launch pad fire, in which the astronauts' nylon suits burned through. After the fire, NASA demanded any potentially flammable materials were to be removed from both the spacecraft and space suits. However they were challenged as to what they would replace it with and scoured the country in search of a material. Beta cloth was developed by a Manned Spacecraft Center team led by Frederick S. Dawn and including Matthew I. Radnofsky working with the Owens-Corning and DuPont companies.