This year, Under Armour announced it had taken the role Exclusive Technical Spacewear Partner for Virgin Galactic, raising the curtain on a best-in-class partnership. While Virgin Galactic worked tirelessly to complete the flight test program of spaceship Unity, Under Armour was tasked with developing the spacewear system for the world’s first commercial spaceline.
Innovation has always been part of Under Armour’s DNA, leading to innovations like HeatGear, ColdGear, Recovery Sleepwear, UA RUSH, UA HOVR and more, but they miss one important thing – going to outer space. Outer space presents an entirely new challenge, so a dedicated team has been working in collaboration with the team at Virgin Galactic to deliver a spacewear system that is safe, functional, and comfortable, putting its own twist on classic spacesuit and footwear to mould the way the next generation of space travellers will dress.
The Base Layer
The UA | VG Base Layer acts as a second skin to the body, retrofitting Under Armour’s UA RUSH technology will enhance performance and blood flow during the high and zero-G portions of the flight. The entire base layer is built with UA’s new Intelliknit fabric for total moisture and temperature management.
From the hottest desert to the cold of space, UA Intelliknit provides temperature regulation and sweat management, making the impossible possible. The development process of UA Intelliknit is highly efficient and creates no material waste in the process – a testament to UA and Virgin Galactic’s shared vision for a better, sustainable future
The Space Suit
UA Clone, a proprietary auxetic material that forms to the exact shape of the body for a precision fit and zero-distraction feel, is used in key parts of the UA | VG Spacesuit – namely the elbows and knees – for optimal mobility and comfort. UA’s HOVR cushioning is also incorporated into the shoulder pads and neck area, which are high impact zones during the high G portions of the flight.
The liner of the spacesuit incorporates other fabrics like Tencel Luxe, SpinIt and Nomex, used for temperature control and moisture management. An important part of the suit construction included functional features such as multiple pockets for necessary and personal items including an integrated solution for communications, with a push-to-talk button.
UA also added a clear pocket on the inside of the jacket above the heart for a photo of a loved one, and a patch unique to each mission that is removable from the suit to be attached to the Future Astronaut’s flight jacket for everyday wear; a jacket which will be presented to astronauts after each mission.
Taking additional inspiration from racecar drivers’ footwear, UA mimicked the lightweight feel for optimum mobility, moving away from what we’d all think of as the big, bulky boot astronauts have previously worn.
UA Clone adaptive technology, also utilized in the spacesuit, forms to the exact shape of the foot for a precision fit and zero-distraction feel, while the UA HOVR cushioning, one of the softest foams available, provides support for a functional, comfortable and flame-retardant piece of footwear.
The graphic on the sock liner reads, “We Stand on the Shoulders of Giants,” inspired by a quote from Sir Isaac Newton that the Virgin Galactic program holds close. In addition, the Virgin Galactic flight DNA symbols and logo unify the full space kit.
The development of the spacewear system is the next step towards the two brands’ shared vision for creating a better future and more sustainable world through commercialized space travel.