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Virgin Galactic spacesuits will let you 'savor' the ride

The space tourism company partnered with Under Armour to create the suits private astronauts will wear on Virgin Galactic flights.

A look at the latest in space wear. 
Steven Counts

In preparing to go into space, at least Virgin Galactic's private astronauts won't have to worry about what to wear. Virgin Galactic and Under Armour showed off their astronaut apparel Wednesday in Yonkers, New York, at an iFly Indoor Skydiving location. 

The total apparel package includes a base layer, footwear, spacesuit, and training suit, as well as a limited-edition astronaut jacket. The spacesuit itself is made of "lightweight flight-grade fabrics" that will help manage temperature and moisture. While Virgin Galactic didn't get too far into the details, it said in a release the training suit will "help to optimize the effectiveness of astronaut preparation." Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank told the crowd the suits are made from eight commercial Under Armour technologies. The bottoms are made of yarn in order to squeeze astronauts' legs and keep the blood flow above the waist. 

CNET's Bridget Carey was on site for the event and described a packed, blue-lit room of journalists and "future astronauts" who watched folks decked out in the suits float in a tube used to simulate skydiving. Branson even stepped into the tube in his suit, but didn't go airborne. 

Virgin Galactic is out to tackle space tourism. The company's been building its SpaceShipTwo, a suborbital spaceplane that will be used to carry passengers. Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides has said operations could actually start in spring 2020. In August, folks got a first look at Spaceport America in New Mexico, which will house mission control, a briefing room and lounge.

In creating these pieces, Virgin Galactic said it consulted with a number of experts on the design including doctors, astronaut trainers, pilots, apparel and footwear designers, as well as engineers and the folks who will actually be wearing this getup. 

What's more, each spacesuit will be tailored to each astronaut. That includes aesthetics, as well -- country flags, name badges and the like will be featured on the suits. There will even be pockets for personal items, like a transparent pocket for photos of loved ones. Branson said he'll be taking photos of his five grandchildren, as well as his mother and father.

The new spacesuits come just a day after NASA unveiled two new suit designs for the Artemis mission. One suit, the orange Orion Crew Survival system, is meant to be worn during launch and reentry on the Orion spacecraft. The other, called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), is actually for walking on the moon. The xEMU is intended to give astronauts more maneuverability than spacesuits of yore. For instance, astronauts will be able to bend at the knees and fully rotate their arms. 

Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor and interiors program manager for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo operations, said a key difference between these suits and suits of the past is that these aren't necessarily designed for a task. Rather, they're built to "enjoy and savor space on your own terms in your own way."

Up next for the suits: testing by mission specialists who will help refine the design even further. 

As for what to do with the suit when you're back from space? Moses said that's why astronauts will also get a flight jacket to casually wear Earth-side.

Or, there's always Canadian future astronaut Jennifer Rallison's plan. When asked on stage when else she'd wear it she said, "Every Halloween for the rest of my life, obviously."

CNET's Bridget Carey contributed to this report. 

Now playing: Watch this: First look inside Virgin Galactic's space passenger terminal

Originally published Oct. 16, 7:23 a.m. PT.
Update, 7:32 a.m. PT: Adds details from event; 7:43 a.m. PT: Adds comments from Beth Moses; 7:52 a.m. PT: Adds details about suits and flight jacket.