Space Tourism

All the things that space tourists have to wear and pack for the trip

Suiting up: What will space tourists need to wear and pack

Forget about those luxurious Caribbean cruises on private yachts and ships or African safaris in the morning. The rich and wealthy are all set to make space their new destination of choice. In fact, such is the lure of space that the experts feel this market might be worth billions in the times to come. 

However, the road for space tourism was not easy. There have been years of daunting setbacks and delays. Finally, most companies are in the process of signing up new passengers, completing the test programs, and training a brand-new batch of first-time astronauts. 

And what else are the space tourism companies figuring out at present? Well, it’s the costumes they are going to let the space tourists wear and the things they will allow the tourists to carry. After all, floating in zero gravity on a suborbital flight leaves you with little clothing options. Or does it?  

Read on to find the answer to that question. 

Understanding the basics of space clothes 

As the commercial space organizations like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are rising, there is a high chance that the next gen of space travelers is going to get more fashionable. A number of celebrities and influencers have already booked their seats. And for this present batch of social media users, selfies are a crucial part of a travel experience, and appearance matters for that purpose. 

As the commercial space organizations are gearing up to send space tourists to the International Space Station (ISS), they are trying to address the desire of their customers to express their fashion and individuality on the trip. In fact, the early attempts at organizing large-scale space trips commercially have come with dedicated attempts to look at the fashion needs of potential customers. 

Contest organized by Tokyo designer, ERI MATSUI, along with the support of Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and American space tourism company, Rocketplane Ltd.

To that end, back in 2006, the Hyper Space Couture Contest had set Japanese designers a challenge to design fashionable garments for the commercial flights to be launched by Rocketplane Ltd. (a bankrupt venture at present). 

The kind of conditions present on board any spaceship or a space station need a radically new approach to apparel manufacture and fashion design. There are not only safety concerns addressed by different NASA studies, but also (and certainly the most important one for fashion designers) weightlessness has to be factored in. In an orbit, objects are present in the state of freefall constantly. There is zero notion of going up and down, and the gravitational forces do not act normally on the garments. 

Designers are stressing on the use of modular, skin tight neoprene garments. These are skin-tight clothing with enough elasticity to effectively control the silhouette – it almost seems to go by the sci-fi visions of future space clothing. However, the potential and need for weightlessness also need to be taken into account. The skintight catsuits do not offer the potential for weightlessness to create undulating, floating silhouettes. 

The potential space suit designs of space tourists 

When you are a space tourist, just getting a couple of fancy and designer pajamas are certainly not enough. After spending millions, you would want nothing less than exclusive space-wear systems. And companies like Virgin Galactic have arranged for that to make their customers happy and keep them safe. 

Now, Virgin Galactic plans to send the first-timer, private astronauts into lower orbit, which means they are going to need special kits to effectively deal with zero gravity and G-force speeds. The Under Armor comes into play at this point. 

The company has revealed a collaboratively made space-wear system that comprises a training suit, footwear, spacesuit, base layer, and a limited-edition astronaut jacket. 

The chosen materials for the space suit 

As anyone can well imagine, comfort and safety underline the material choice and any other design considerations. This spacesuit would be made from extremely lightweight flight-grade type of fabrics. There will be cushioning in the footwear, knees, and elbows to ensure safety during the zero-gravity experience. 

The training suits complement the spacesuits. The former offers a major help in optimizing the efficiency of astronaut preparation in the days right before spaceflight. 

While preparing for their first ever tourist flight, the Mission Specialists who will be present on board the crewed test spaceflights will also wear these clothing systems. It will help in adequate testing of the clothes. 

Virgin Galactic and Under Armour’s new line of spacewear. Image: Virgin Galactic

The fashion element of the chosen space suit 

There is no doubt that fashion is going to come into play because some of the people who have already secured their seats for the trip include celebrities like Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, Angelina Jolie, and Leonardo di Caprio. These stars cannot be expected to wear anything random given to them. 

The company, Under Armor, says that all their spacesuits are going to be personally made for every astronaut. There will be certain differentiated features that identify and celebrate the personal journey of each astronaut. Going by the traditions followed in the past, there will be name badges and country flags. In addition to that, the suit pockets are going to hold the personal effects of the astronauts, including a transparent pocket inside to hold the photograph of the loved ones. 

Under Armour organized an unveiling event in New York to showcase the space-wear on a vertical, zero gravity catwalk. Billionaire Richard Branson had led the models on this high-tech runaway. He was wearing the space suit that he wore again on the inaugural commercial spaceflight of Virgin Galactic. 

The goodie bag to travel with the space tourists 

Blue Origin, the space company owned by Jeff Bezos, sends the next batch of space tourists a care package that contains stickers, hats, and a cargo bag before the trip to space. 

Boshuizen, one of the passengers, had shown the goodie bag in his YouTube video. He had received two baseball caps that were blue in color and had the name Blue Origin written in the front. There were two other baseball caps with the feather logo of the company imprinted in front. The other goodies in the bag included packs of stickers, a drinks’ flask, and a cargo bag that had about 1.5 kg capacity. 

We are talking about the second human flight of Blue Origin that is going to travel to the edge of space. The company is sending four amateur astronauts nearly 62 miles skyward on the New Shepard rocket of Blue Origin. 

In that YouTube video, Boshuizen had also opened the card he received from Sarah Phelps, who is the director of astronaut experience at Blue Origin. The card mentioned how the astronaut has taken his first step in one of the most incredible journeys. It also added that the company is about to prepare the travelers for their upcoming space tourism adventure. 

Now, one can hope that the astronauts will be allowed to bring some of the items from the goodie bag with them on their journey. In general, they can carry photographs or letters that you want to carry with them. However, it is better not to carry any food item because floating crumbs are the last thing anyone needs on the journey. Moreover, whether it is a three-day trip or twelve-weeks, the company is going to arrange for the food and water. The passengers can make their requests to the company, but they do not need to carry food and water. 

The bottom line 

Before the companies send their next batch of tourists on a trip to space, there is still a lot they still need to figure out. Apart from perfecting the design of the suit and adding the possible fashion elements to it, there are things like security and safety of the passengers that have to be considered. Additionally, the three companies are still in the process of finding out other details, such as food, comfort, and so on. 

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