Space is all the rage this year. From the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 to our cruel and incompetent president’s strange preoccupation with creating a Space Force, space has most definitely been the place. This was further exemplified in March when NASA announced something that would have been top headlines fifteen years ago but, given our current news environment, just barely made a blip: NASA’s Artemis program will be returning humans to the moon by 2024. The responses to this were varied: Should the U.S. really be spending money on this when we have quite a few other problems going on? Is NASA’s method of getting back to the moon really the best way to go about this? Is the Artemis program even going far enough? These are all great and very important questions, which is why social justice activists and science writers have written about them ad nauseum. Since others clearly had the more profound questions covered, my mind was focused elsewhere: Would the new spacesuits be sexy?
To be fair, the Apollo 11 spacesuits did look pretty good. The 1960s were a stylish time, after all. Any unattractive aspects of the suits were made up for by the fact that they were on the moon, an undeniably sexy location. Still, it’s been 50 years. We don’t live on the moon and we don’t have flying cars, but surely by this time we can develop a much more aesthetically pleasing moonwalking suit. If humans are really going to make a push into venturing farther out into space, it is imperative that we look good doing it. I can’t think of many scenarios that would be more embarrassing than running into an alien civilization for the first time and having them look way more stylish than us.
Unfortunately, NASA seems to be less concerned about fashion and more concerned about astronauts surviving. When they revealed the new Artemis suits earlier this week, I was less than impressed. While the Orion suit is sexy in that it reminds me of David Tennant wearing an orange spacesuit on Doctor Who, the actual moonwalking suit, the xEMU, is even uglier than the Apollo suits. Though they are supposedly sleeker than the spacesuits used in the 1960s and 70s, they look much bulkier, a circumstance I can only attribute to the very strange red, white, and blue pattern. That’s right. In classic American fashion, we splashed red, white, and blue all over that spacesuit in the strangest and least aesthetically-pleasing way possible. As an American, what I am about to say will likely get me thrown in federal prison, but it needs to be said: the color scheme of red, white, and blue is not good. Some people can make it work (the nation of France), but the United States, with our penchant for being as over the top and garish as possible, has never been able to. On the plus side, astronauts can now do things like bend their knees without face-planting onto the lunar surface, so I suppose that, at least, is one giant leap for mankind.
While NASA may not have been worrying about fashion, eccentric billionaire Richard Branson sure was. The day after NASA’s big reveal, Branson revealed the suits designed for his space tourism company Virgin Galactic. They are, of course, designed by Under-Armour. People who know a bit more about space travel than I do, like scientists and engineers, will point out that Virgin Galactic flights are going into space for less than two hours, meaning that the passengers do not require the same protections that astronauts require when they are in orbit, let alone when they are spacewalking. To which I say, fine, but you have to admit that Virgin Galactic’s suits look good. If I suddenly found myself confronted with an advanced civilization from another galaxy, I certainly would prefer to be wearing sleek blue Under-Armour over a giant patriotic milk carton. Would I die if I were stranded on the moon in just some Under-Armour? Of course, but at least I would look good doing it.