50 years ago, humans first stepped foot on the Moon in large white spacesuits which were awkward to move around in. Now, with a new age of commercial spaceflight on the horizon, a new generation of clothing is needed for the astronauts of the future.
Apparel brand Under Armour are the Exclusive Technical Spacewear Partner for Virgin Galactic and have showcased their futuristic spacesuit outfit this week.
Made up of three components – the base layer, spacesuit, and footwear – this ensemble has been specifically designed in collaboration with a team of experts, which included doctors, pilots, clothing designers and future Virgin Galactic customers.
Founder Richard Branson ensures that “safety [is their] North Star and the requirement for safety and utility [is] matched by a focus on customer experience”, and this is reflected in the intricate detailing of the clothing.
The shoulder of the spacesuit features UA HOVR foam padding to provide additional comfort from pressure created by the harness during launch and re-entry, and the footwear is created with a special chemistry rubber outsole and shank for stability in low gravity environments.
“What we’ve engineered utilizing our key technologies will define the future of spacewear”
– Kevin Plank, Founder & CEO,
Each item in this range has detailing with the Virgin Galactic flight DNA symbols; icons depicting the evolution of flight, from Icarus’ winged suit to the SpaceShipTwo (Virgin Galactic’s latest extra-terrestrial craft).
Beneath the main spacesuit, the astronauts have a two-piece base layer which has been crafted entirely from Under Armour’s new Intelliknit fabric. This textile has total temperature and moisture management and regulates blood flow so matter the conditions or G-forces experienced in the journey, those on board will be comfortable and alert. The creation of this fabric is also highly efficient and creates no material waste – a reflection of both parties’ shared vision for a sustainable future.
The sleeve of the spacesuit also has an integrated communications system, with a PTT (push to talk) button. This button, located on the forearm of the left sleeve, can be used to initiate communications with other astronauts as well as ground crew. The practicality of this design has been thought through thoroughly, especially with the feedback from current pilots about their experiences with differing technologies and specialised clothing.
In addition to safety and comfort, Kevin Plank’s team have also intricately designed the look of the outfit to be sleek, with a deep-blue colour scheme broken up by gold flashes. These colours have been inspired by the way the Sun casts its rays onto earth, and unify each article of clothing. Each piece also features the Virgin Galactic flight DNA symbols, as well as the Virgin Galactic and Under Armour branding.
On the inside of the spacesuit, there is a space for the individual to write their own personal mission. A pocket over the heart is also featured so they can carry an image of loved ones on their journey into space.
Finally, each mission will have its own mission patch, worn on the right sleeve (complementing the user’s nation flag on the left arm). This features the name of each member of that mission, with an image which blends each individual’s iris together. This patch is removed after the mission and presented afterwards with a personal flight jacket.
Every article of clothing in this line will be made to each person’s individual measurements and requirements for complete comfort. More than 600 people have already brought tickets for flights in the six-passenger spacecraft, with the first passenger flights expected at some point next year. However, this may be just the start of a new age of space tourism.
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