A First Look at the Spacesuits of the Future

After years of anticipation, Elon Musk has finally revealed the design that could take humans to a new level of space exploration.

In true Elon Musk fashion, the latest SpaceX creation has been revealed with dramatic flair.

Posting on his Instagram account early Wednesday morning, Musk unveiled the first iteration of his SpaceX spacesuit. The design, seen only from the waist up, features a slim black-and-white aesthetic and is a far cry from the bulky, puffy spacesuits worn by NASA astronauts.

Outside of Earth's protective atmosphere, spacesuits must regulate air pressure, oxygen, and temperature as well as deflect cosmic radiation, all while allowing for movement and communication. (Read more about how spacesuits have evolved.) But as space travel becomes more commercial and accessible, more flexible suits are imperative. Among other inconveniences, astronauts have lost fingernails as a result of the current pressurized glove design.

How hard was it to combine fashion and function? According to Musk's post, very, but he noted that the suits are fully functional and have "already been tested to double vacuum pressure."

These slim suits won't be used for space walks, but they will protect astronauts from any potential loss of cabin pressure during flight. High-altitude pilots wear similar suits to ensure essential bodily functions aren't harmed by a drop in pressure. (See photos of how spacesuits have evolved over the past 50 years.)

It's likely the suits will be worn by astronauts on SpaceX's commercial spacecraft Crew Dragon, which is slated to travel to the International Space Station—and potentially beyond.

Enthusiasts have been waiting eagerly to see the suit design for years. Musk first stated in a 2015 Reddit AMA that the design would be unveiled by the end of that year, and he reportedly told designers and engineers at the time that he wanted the suits to be "badass."

In May 2016, Musk hired Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez to design the suits. Fernandez is behind costumes used in blockbusters including Batman, The Avengers, and Iron Man.

For Musk, getting humans to the ISS in style is only the beginning. By 2018, the billionaire hopes to send private, paying citizens on a trip to the moon. Even more ambitious, Musk says a million humans could one day live on Mars—and he plans to get them there by the 2060s.

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