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article imageVirgin Galactic unveils spacesuits for 'SpaceShipTwo' passengers

By Karen Graham     Oct 16, 2019 in Technology
Virgin Galactic and partner Under Armour unveiled a new line of "spacewear" spacesuits for future passengers on SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic's suborbital spaceplane once space tourism flights begin in 2020.
At a press conference on Wednesday morning in Yonkers, New York, Virgin Galactic's CEO, British billionaire Richard Branson, went all-out in unveiling his company's new Under Armour spacewear in a fantastic PR stunt with dancers wearing the spacesuits inside a zero-gravity simulation chamber.
Branson also donned his own spacesuit, which he plans to wear on Virgin Galactic's first commercial space flight in 2020, according to CNN Business. Future passengers on SpaceShipTwo will be outfitted with gear that includes a base spacesuit, footwear, a training suit, and a "Limited Edition" astronaut jacket.
"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," Branson said in a statement, according to "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."
In January this year, Virgin Galactic teamed up with Baltimore-based Under Armour, well known for its footwear, sports, and casual apparel, to outfit the company's rocket jockeys and customers with stylish suborbital spacesuits.
Virgin Galactic s Sir Richard Branson (right) and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank review possible a...
Virgin Galactic's Sir Richard Branson (right) and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank review possible apparel designs for Virgin Galactic customers and crewmembers.
Virgin Galactic/Under Armour
The royal blue jumpsuits are made of lightweight "flight-grade" fabric and have a backup air supply to keep space tourists comfortable as they hurtle more than 50 miles up into the atmosphere at three times the speed of sound. The actual material used in the suits is made from a special yarn designed by Under Armour to help regulate body temperature.
Each spacesuit ensemble will be personally tailored to each Virgin Galactic passenger and will include national flags and name badges, according to CNBC.
And Under Armour designers had to undergo a steep learning curve in creating the space wardrobe ensemble. Under Armour designer, Nick Cienski said he watched "Battlestar Galactica" and other sci-fi TV shows and movies for design inspiration.
"Going to space presents an entirely new challenge for us," Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said in a press release. "We've had to put a dedicated team at the very best at Under Armour that's been working day and night."
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo take off for our fifth supersonic powered test flight on February 22...
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo take off for our fifth supersonic powered test flight on February 22, 2019.
Virgin Galactic
While Virgin Galactic's passengers won't have to endure the rigors of astronauts on a flight to the moon, Ondrej Doule, who works on spacesuit designs at Florida Tech says suborbital flights present unique challenges, because the human body must endure rapid changes in G forces - "from up to six times the normal weight of gravity and back to weightlessness, all within minutes.:
Virgin Galactic soon to go public
In related news, Virgin Galactic is planning to list on the New York Stock Exchange before the end of the year, making it the first human spaceflight company to do so. Virgin Galactic announced in July a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), a special-purpose acquisition company created by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.
At the close of the merger, Virgin Galactic will be valued at $1.5 billion with SCH retaining a 49 percent shake in the company. Palihapitiya sees Virgin Galactic as “a business that has software-like margins,” telling CNBC in July that he believes there is a “really compelling risk-reward” behind space tourism.
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