Virgin Galactic is proving that not only will its commercial space program be awesome, but that the outfits worn by its passengers and crew will be out of this world, too.
On Friday, Virgin Galactic shared the admittedly cool spacesuits its pilots will wear when they fly passengers, which they call “private astronauts,” on their upcoming space flights.
The suits were designed in collaboration with Virgin Galactic’s Technical Spacewear Partner, Under Armour. According to Virgin Galactic, the design teams followed a brief to create a “non-pressurized spacesuit, which not only aesthetically conveys the pilots’ role in Virgin Galactic’s mission,” but one that was also practical in supporting the pilot’s unique needs when flying at more than three times the speed of sound.
“A pilot’s flight suit has been refined over the decades to embody a certain undeniable look and function, but they also have to perform beyond expectations,” Randall Harward, Under Armour’s SVP of material and manufacturing innovation, said in a statement. “We took that as a starting point and built in all of the Under Armour solutions we’ve developed for comfort, support, movement, and temperature management. Our goal was to build a suit that leaves a pilot – like any athlete – feeling confident and with zero distractions during a critical moment of performance. It’s been a fascinating journey.”
The spacesuit, the company said, is ultra-lightweight, clocking in at just 2.2 pounds. It also includes padding specific to the pilot’s needs, including shoulder cushioning to provide comfort as pilots are held in positions by seat straps. It also features breathable knitted fabrics to help regulate the pilot’s body temperature throughout every phase of the flight.
The pilot suits also come in the same royal blue as the passenger suits unveiled in 2019, however, the crew suits differ slightly as they come with black striping down the side.
“The addition of black within the pilot spacesuits sets the pilots a little apart and is a reminder that the destination of each flight is the black sky of space,” the company shared in a statement. “The pilot spacesuits also include the Virgin Galactic pilot wings emblem, which captures the spirit and essence of flight and represents the elegance, speed, and dynamism of a Virgin Galactic spaceflight.”
The suits will be put to the test very soon as the first human spaceflight is set to take flight in the coming days with the flight window opening on Dec. 11.
Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.
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