Spacesuits made… sexy?

Slate (not The Onion) dishes on the Victoria’s Secret designer looking at the next generation of form-fitting spacesuits:

Perhaps nobody understands the intersection of aesthetics, function, and price better than Ted Southern, the co-founder of Final Frontier Design, a Brooklyn, New York–based company whose mission is to design and manufacture the next generation of space-safety garments for NASA and commercial outfits.

Southern comes from a different background than most NASA folks—he built the angel wings for the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows and has constructed inflatable costumes for Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE show in Las Vegas. This makes him something of an outlier in an industry that has always been dominated by multinational aerospace companies, but he thinks that his unique background gives Final Frontier Design an advantage. “In costuming you’re working with the human body a lot so you have a very bodycentric way of thinking about assemblies,” said Southern. “The closer you can get to the human body in terms of shape and look, the sexier it’s going to be.”

Southern and FFD chief engineer and designer Nikolay Moiseev set off on their quest to build a better (and sexier) spacesuit when they took second place in NASA’s 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge. The glove is arguably the most complicated aspect of a spacesuit due to all the joints and negative space, which become especially tricky variables when you’re trying to maintain a certain average pressure over a given space. Their close-fitting pressurized gloves allowed for a range of movement and tactility that marked a significant improvement over NASA’s current models. In August, in fact, NASA awarded the company its first fixed-price contract for the delivery of a functioning mechanical counter-pressure glove by next summer.
The duo hopes to design a suit that qualifies for orbital spaceflight with NASA.

Click on the link for some fascinating images of Dava Newman’s BioSuit, another contender for the outer space catwalk….