What will you wear in space? It may sound unrealistic now, but consider this for a moment anyhow. Will you be trapped in the classic mattress of a suit with a fishbowl for a helmet, or something a little more flattering? Instead of stiff bulky padding would you prefer a space suit which allows to explore weightlessness to its full potential?
At one endlessly fascinating end of the space-wear spectrum is the function-oriented second skin BioSuit envisioned by Professor Dava J. Newman at MIT. Intended for actual extravehicular cosmic exposure, it’s sleek, beautifully functional, and structurally sophisticated, providing pressure and elasticity. And there’s a backpack!
Dava is involved with a remarkable amount of research on topics ranging from human performance in outer space to “Powered Assistive Walking Devices” for use by the handicapped on Earth. Admiration. Awe.
Over at the Spacewear Lite side, we have Rocketplane Kistler who, in conjunction with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, arranged a design contest last year. Simply titled “Hyper Space Couture Design Contest“[!], its goal was to combine form with function and create zero gravity-compatible stylish garments. The winners were to help design clothing for Rocketplane’s unrealized space tourism program.
Rocketplane lost their NASA funding earlier this year and these potential designs will likely never see the light of day, which makes our absence from Hyper Space Design Contest [!] all the more unfortunate.
The somewhat less-functional world of high fashion’s been touched by cosmic inspiration for decades; Hussein Chalayan, Paco Rabanne, and Dolce & Gabbana are just some of the designers who’ve incorporated space influences into their collections. Alt fashion has voluminously addressed the space aesthetic as well, but this topic is best saved for another day. In the meantime, think of Prof. Newman and appreciate her efforts while you enjoy an unreasonably large collection of low-res but google-able 50 years of space-suited actresses. The internet, she provides!