The astronaut wears Prada
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No, we are not having you on: the next astronauts to walk on the Moon will do so in Prada. The Italian fashion house has been selected to design the spacesuits for the astronauts taking part in the Artemis III mission in 2025.
The Prada engineers will work alongside the teams at Axiom Space, a private company which specializes in space equipment, throughout the whole design process. Together, they will develop material solutions and design specifications to protect against the unique challenge of space and the lunar environment.
The Axiom Space CEO, Michael Suffredini, has stated that he is thrilled by the partnering of the two companies for the Axiom extravehicular mobility unit (AxEMU) spacesuit, adding that ‘Prada’s technical expertise with raw materials, manufacturing techniques, and innovative design concepts will bring advanced technologies instrumental in ensuring not only the comfort of astronauts on the lunar surface, but also the much-needed human factor considerations absent from legacy spacesuits.’
Not such a surprising mission for Prada
The collaboration between the haute couture brand and the space agency may seem more than surprising at first glance, yet it makes complete sense. An astronaut told the BBC that he thought Prada was up to the challenge thanks to its experience in terms of design. This experience was gained not only on the Milan runways, but also through the company taking part in the America’s Cup sailing competition, for which Prada contributed to the design of the sails for the AC75, a monohull racing yacht.
‘Prada has considerable experience with various types of composite fabrics and may actually be able to make some real technical contributions to the outer layers of the new space suit,’ according to Professor Jeffrey Hoffman, who flew five NASA missions and has carried out four spacewalks.
Nevertheless, we mustn’t expect to see astronauts with floral patterns or in coloured tones – we would love the idea, that’s a shame. The Professor points out that a space suit is like a miniature spacecraft. It has to provide pressure, oxygen, keep you at a reasonable temperature – OK, when you put it like that, we get it.
NASA revealed in 1974 that its spacesuits were extremely expensive: between 15 and 22 million dollars per suit. The space agency hired Axiom Space in June 2022 to manufacture its spacesuits after having spent 420 million dollars since 2017 attempting to develop its own. A dark grey and orange AxEMU prototype was revealed in March, but the final version will be entirely white.
The Artemis III mission will be the first crewed mission to the lunar south pole. Amongst the team, Christina Koch will be the first woman to walk on the moon. In any case, if there is an event worth getting all dressed up for, a journey into space will do just nicely.
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