Shortly after announcing a December 19 launch date for Virgin Orbit, Virgin Galactic has unveiled its pilots’ spacesuits. A year has passed since we first saw the designs for passenger crew members, and the difference clearly draws a line between practicality and flash between the two. All of Virgin Galactic’s spacewear was designed in partnership with Under Armour.
Substance and style — Virgin Galactic’s paying customers, or Future Astronauts, will be outfitted in its Spacewear System. The collection of suits will be tailored to each customer, allowing for the kind of fit you see in this extremely on-brand reveal video:
The company’s Pilot Corps gets fewer bells and whistles, in a practical move for the rigors of spaceflight and to make them easily identifiable by passengers. At a glance, the suits seem as ill-fitting as other astronaut suits out there, but close-ups reveal their more thoughtful tailoring.
Passengers’ outfits are accented with silver panels, providing a helpful reflective quality. Pilots’ black paneling evokes a whisper of Star Trek inspiration but lacks the sci-fi commitment of passengers’ shoulder lapels. While the Future Astronauts may only be able to take (read: afford) a flight or two, pilots have to fly at blistering speeds on a regular basis — demanding something sturdier than athleisure with some baubles.
Despite their sturdiness, the lightweight spacesuits clock in at a little more than a kilogram. The knitted fabrics also aid in temperature regulation for the various stages of flight and the New Mexican heat at the launch site.
After months of issues and caution, these suits could be ready for action as early as December 11.