When the next generation of intrepid star voyagers ventures out into the great beyond for lunar excursions and planetary exploration, they'll be suited up in high style, as NASA and Virgin Galactic have both unveiled their latest fashions for astronaut and civilian space missions this week.
First up, NASA paraded out its two new Artemis-era suit designs at a fun press conference at its Washington D.C. home base on Tuesday, introducing some cutting-edge features and agility capabilities in anticipation of the space agency's planned trip to the moon in 2024.
One of these cool suits, officially known as the Orion Crew Survival System, will be slipped on during launch and reentry procedures aboard the Orion spacecraft. The second and more elaborate of the pair, called an Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), will be worn specifically during extended excursions to the moon's South Pole and, further down the road, on Mars.
NASA explained that the xEMU is constructed to far outperform spacesuits utilized during the Apollo era, and is superior to equipment worn during spacewalks outside the International Space Station.
“You won’t see the bunny hopping and falls like those seen in the Apollo videos, because we’ve added bearings and new soft elements to help the suit move smoothly with the wearer,” said Marshall Smith, director of NASA’s human lunar exploration program, in a statement. “With the improvements to the suits for Artemis missions, astronauts can now open up new possibilities for science and exploration at the moon.”
Other new features built into these new Artemis generation spacesuits include: a zipper-less system with sealed doors for quick entry and exit; waist, arm, and leg bearings for greater mobility; flexion and extension joints; and a survival "shelter" feature that allows astronauts to perform emergency evacuations inside it for up to six days, all while keeping them cozy when harsh external temperatures range from plus 250 degrees to minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Not to be upstaged, sportswear titan Under Armour revealed their slick new Virgin Galactic spacesuits yesterday, consisting of a form-fitting base layer, spacesuit, and matching boots. These spiffy threads will be standard-issue fashion wear for lucky passengers aboard Virgin's upcoming suborbital SpaceShipTwo flights set to begin sometime next year.
These sexy spacesuits sport identical dark blue color schemes with gold accents said to be inspired by golden rays of sunlight. According to Under Armour, each spacesuit model underwent exhaustive testing with pilots, spaceship engineers, medical professionals, and astronaut instructors.
If the material looks familiar, Under Armour retrofit the UA RUSH, mineral-infused fabric that it promotes for amateur and professional athletes, which will assist with comfort, temperature regulation, and sweat management.
What do you think of the latest in exciting spacewear from NASA and Under Armour, and which would you chose for extended missions into the cold void of outer space?