When the world’s first space tourists enter suborbital space, they’ll be wearing the same type of performance athletic gear you put on for even the most terrestrial workouts.
That’s what Under Armor and Virgin Galactic have conceived with a brand new kit the companies are calling the world’s first spacesuit engineered for consumer use. Virgin’s missions are slated to start next year. The futuristic looking outfits were revealed today in a flashy event outside New York City, complete with Richard Branson, ballet dancers, and a truly impressive aerialist display that demonstrated how flexible the gear will be.
These Future Astronauts, as the commercial space flight passengers are called in the promotional, materials, won’t be weighed down with equipment and gear like space travelers of yesteryear—but, as Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank admitted, the space tourists won’t be going outside of the craft or taking moonwalks anytime soon. The flights will only reach about 50 miles above the Earth, allowing for about 10 minutes of weightless space time, before returning back to the ground.
The suits are made up of a base layer and exterior jumpsuit. The base layer (seen in the lead image above) isn’t much different from the clothing Under Armour already makes, as CEO Kevin Plank noted onstage in a presentation with Branson. The getups feature eight technologies that are already widely used in the company’s performance gear line, including Rush, a fabric the company claims can recycle your body’s energy, and Intelliknit, a Japanese super yarn meant to help regulate body temperature and sweat.
The spacesuit uses Under Armour’s HOVR material, most commonly found in its shoes for high energy return, for the pads in the shoulders and neck to help deal with G forces during the flight. Other features, however, use some other materials you might not find on store shelves just yet. Compression in key areas like the elbows and knees come from UA Clone, a “a proprietary auxetic material that forms to the exact shape of the body,” and there are other fabrics used for temperature control and moisture management. The boots, which look more than a bit like Cam Newton’s signature football cleats, also feature the HOVR and Clone technologies for fit and function.
The gear was developed with plenty of feedback from the people who will actually be visiting space, with personalized touches like country flags and internal pockets for photos of loved ones to take outside our atmosphere. Separate jackets will serve as mementos that will be able to be worn in everyday life even after the experience, as if the memories of the trip won’t be enough.
So what if you don’t have the $250k you’ll need for a ticket to space? Under Armour plans on expanding the astronaut line for other consumers, too, so everyone will be able to have some type of space kit. First up: a normal T-shirt. Until flights get cheaper, that’s going to be about as close to space as we’ll be able to get.
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