The design process behind Virgin Galactic’s spacewear

This is the first collection of its kind, made specifically for private astronauts, and creating it has taken much hard work from both teams. Designing apparel for going into space requires a unique balance between comfort, utility and Virgin Galactic’s focus on creating an unforgettable experience.

For Virgin Galactic Future Astronauts, that life-changing, personal experience of human spaceflight is eagerly anticipated and Virgin Galactic wanted spacewear that would support it.

Virgin Galactic, Under Armour

“Virgin Galactic gave us an exciting challenge to build the world’s first commercial spacesuit,” said Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Under Armour. “Innovation is at the core of everything we do and our team delivered a unique twist on the classic spacesuit utilising both existing and new UA technologies to define space gear for the future. It is an incredible opportunity to showcase our key performance innovations in space at the highest level and continue to push the limits of human performance.”

At each stage of the design process, input was given by a wide variety of experts, including doctors, astronaut trainers, pilots, apparel and footwear designers, engineers and Future Astronaut customers. But the root of each design decision is safety – the number one priority for Virgin Galactic.

To keep astronauts safe in out-of-seat zero gravity, the spacesuit features cushioned elbows, knees and shoes, all made of lightweight flight-grade fabrics. All the materials used for the apparel have been rigorously tested in laboratory conditions, which match the measured environment at all stages of spaceflight. The same suit will be worn by Virgin Galactic Mission Specialists on board VSS Unity’s crewed test spaceflights, prior to commercial flights.

Each astronaut will have their spacesuit tailored for a perfect fit. While the design clearly distinguishes the wearer as an astronaut, the spacesuits also include features that recognise and celebrate each astronaut’s personal journey. Country flags and name badges build on traditions of the past, while an inside transparent suit pocket has been designed to keep a picture of loved ones close to heart.

Virgin Galactic, Under Armour

“Spacesuits are a part of the iconography of the first space age; our visual impressions of human spaceflight and what astronauts wear are inextricably linked,” Richard Branson said. “Requirements for astronaut spacewear as we enter the second space age are evolving, but the design challenge has not diminished. We were delighted when Kevin and Under Armour stepped up to this task and they have surpassed our expectations. I love the way the spacewear looks and I love the way it feels. I also love the fact that the next time I put it on, I will be on my way to space.”

Read Richard’s blog to hear more of his thoughts on the spacewear and go to Virgin Galactic to see the latest from the world’s first commercial spaceline.


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