The companies are collaborating on a full line of spacewear for Virgin Galactic, which the companies claim as the first collection “created specifically for private astronauts.” The collection includes the spacesuit, a training suit, footwear and even a limited edition jacket.
Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft will carry as many as six passengers, along with the two pilots, to the edge of space. The spaceship is dropped from a jet-powered aircraft at about 40,000 feet before firing its rocket motor, reaching over three times of the speed of sound as it climbs though the Earth’s atmosphere. Then the spacecraft and its passengers float weightless for about 10 minutes, before gliding back down to land on Earth much like a traditional aircraft.
A ticket for a Virgin Galactic flight goes for about $250,000 per person.
Under Armour’s spacesuit design
The design of the spacewear included input from astronaut trainers, pilots, doctors, stylists and more, Virgin Galactic said. Each spacesuit will be personally tailored to each Virgin Galactic passenger and will include national flags and name badges.
The Under Armour spacesuit is made from a variety of materials that Virgin Galactic says have been tested rigorously in spaceflight-like environments.
Virgin Galactic’s “mission specialists,” such as chief astronaut trainer Beth Moses, will wear the Under Armour spacesuit on the company’s remaining crewed test flights.
For Under Armour, the spacesuit initiative fits into its broader push to sell “performance” gear, like sweat-wicking shirts and shorts. It separates the company from the likes of Nike, Adidas and Lululemon, which have built their brands more around certain sports, such as basketball, soccer or yoga. Under Armour has seen sales suffer more recently in North America, with some analysts saying it’s because the company has stayed so focused on “performance,” missing other trends. But CEO Kevin Plank has argued that Under Armour will stay true to its core.
First commercial spaceflights next year
Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of testing its spacecraft, with just a couple of flights remaining. The company had a backlog of 603 customers as of the end of June, many of which have waited years for their chance to fly. And, in the time since its two most recent test flights reached the edge of space, Virgin Galactic says it has received interest from more than 3,000 potential customers.
The company plans to begin flying commercial flights in 2020, with Branson expected to fly on the first one.
Virgin Galactic shares going public soon
Virgin Galactic is also preparing to become the first human spaceflight company to go public. Virgin Galactic is planning to list on the New York Stock Exchange before the end of the year, through a merger announced in July with Social Capital Hedosophia, a special-purpose acquisition company created by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.
Once the merger closes, Virgin Galactic will have a valuation of $1.5 billion, with SCH retaining a 49% stake.
Palihapitiya sees Virgin Galactic as “a business that has software-like margins,” telling CNBC in July that he believes there is a “really compelling risk-reward” behind space tourism. UBS, in a March report, estimated that space tourism has a potential market of $3 billion a decade from now, even though it’s “still at a nascent phase.”