Moonwalk on the Catwalk: See RISD Students’ Designs for the Clothes Astronauts Wear on NASA’s 2025 Lunar Mission
Clothing concerns include the availability of privacy in a compact space, and how much temperatures can vary aboard a space craft.
The latest news from outer space? The Rhode Island School of Design is designing clothes that NASA astronauts could wear when they fly to the moon on the Artemis mission, currently slated for take off in 2025.
NASA’s last manned lunar landing was the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. For Artemis, the space agency now plans to send nine men and nine women to the moon aboard the Orion spacecraft. And when it comes to what they’ll wear during the journey, RISD students are helping NASA engineers develop the perfect outfit.
The clothes are an assignment in “Pack Your Bags! We’re Headed for the Moon,” a course in the school’s apparel design department taught by Catherine Andreozzi, a longtime RISD professor.
“Specifically, the class is considering what articles of clothing would be functional, comfortable, sustainable, breathable, aesthetically pleasing, cleanable, and able to endure a 30-day mission to the moon,” Andreozzi said in a statement. “They’re balancing budgetary restrictions due to the high cost of space travel as well as flammability regulations while still considering the astronauts’ fundamental human needs.”
Guests lecturers in the class have included retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, who spent a total of 104 days in space, aboard the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle.
That experience made her well equipped to offer students insights about the unique conditions of space flight and how clothing needs to be adapted for a gravity-free environment, where the body moves in different ways than it does on earth. (Consider, for instance, the challenges of going to the bathroom in zero gravity.)
Other concerns include the availability of privacy in a compact space, and how much temperatures can vary aboard a space craft.
And the must-have accessory for any space outfit, according to Stott, might surprise you: Velcro. Stott said she had strips of the hook-and-loop fasteners on her pants, which allowed her to quickly and easily attach any tools she wanted to carry while floating around the space ship.
A design by Avantika Velho offered a different solution in the form of lots of pockets and fasteners. Jacklyn Kim and Ann Dinh, meanwhile, each offered their take on space-age activewear, while Emilia Mann came up with a warm but ventilated knit microgravity sock, and Samantha Ho envisioned cushioned socks designed to be worn under larger space boots.
“Nicole Stott told us that the tops of her feet were rubbed raw on the space station, and that really stuck with me,” Ho said in a statement. “I came up with this integrated system using 3D-knitted socks to provide extra cushioning where astronauts need it.”
Students in the class are putting together gender-neutral capsule collection designs which will be reviewed by NASA personnel, including RISD alumna Molly Harwood, who works at NASA’s Softgoods Lab. If NASA thinks the designs have potential, it will test them and perhaps incorporate aspects of them to the Artemis crew’s apparel.
The course isn’t the only one at RISD asking students to come up with designs for the challenges of outer space. Other classes on offer include “Design for Extreme Environments” and “Designing for Life Off Planet.”
There’s also the school’s Space Design Club, founded in fall 2020. And students at the school take part in the NASA competitions SUITS (Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students), the Competition Human Exploration Rover Challenge, and the BIG Idea Challenge. A team from Brown and RISD won the “Most Creative Concept” award at the latter in 2021, and was one of three RISD projects NASA selected for further development.
See more designs from the class below.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.