Elon Musk and Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez built custom astronaut suits based on Superhero theme for historic SpaceX Dragon Crew launch
The line between superhero science fiction and our regular life is constantly blurring. I mean, NASA almost found traces of parallel universe where time runs backward; the Bane masks are booming in sales; AI is making our lives simple (Hi! Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant.) And in a couple of hours, SpaceX and NASA are ready to send off two astronauts in space aboard the Crew Dragon capsule in the first private manned mission in history.
When you see that happen and it strikes you as if you are watching very similar aesthetics to a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. Please know it is true.
SpaceX built custom suits in a partnership with superhero costume designer Jose Fernandez for its Dragon Crew Mission.
Fashioning a Superhero Suit for Space Flight
The first two passengers of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley. The new spacesuit these veteran astronauts will wear is designed by superhero costume designer Jose Fernandez.
“It is really neat, and I think the biggest testament to that is my 10-year-old son telling me how cool I am now.”Astronaut Doug Hurley told AP
Fernandez redefined the superhero costumes with his Batman suit. His designs are sharper, edgier and clean. Remember Hella’s headgear in Thor: Ragnarok, or Loki’s famous horned headpiece when he asks New York in 2012 to ‘kneel.’ He also sculpted Thanos’ infamous purple chin along with his face and armour. Yes! And that’s just his work in the last couple of years.
Fernandez has various movie costumes to his credit like Avengers: Endgame, Thor, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Wolverine, X-Men United, Fantastic Four, (then FOX) The Amazing Spider-Man, Batman vs. Superman, and Batman Returns among others.
His work in movies like Alien III and Men in Black makes him a credible artist to imagine futuristic designs. His upcoming projects include Tom Cruises’ Top Gun: Maverick where Pete Mitchell and his new crop of fighter pilots wear his designed flight jumpsuits.
In the past 20 years, we have seen Fernandez’s contribution in bringing to life on the screen various fan-favorite characters such as the Mad Titan Thanos, Thor, Hella, Black Panther, Captain America, Batman, Wonder Woman and more. He rose to fame with the Batman’s costume work.
The SpaceX Dragon Crew’s Suit
Fans of Elon Musk tout him as the real-life Tony Stark. Musk’s interest in pop culture further adds to it. The parallel is uncanny! And rightly so, Musk is the pioneer of privatization of space travel just like Tony, who privatized world peace by declaring himself the Iron Man.
Furthermore, Musk named the rocket after Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon whereas the capsule name stems from famous track ‘Puff the Magic Dragon.’ The launch is historic as a private organization sends humans to orbit venturing into a domain which till now has been the playground of world governments.
Similarly, SpaceX wants to make sure the send-off looks good. Hence, its keen attention to design details. And no, SpaceX didn’t trust the costume designer for astronaut safety!
Fernandez designed the aesthetic of the spacesuit while SpaceX had a separate team that geared the suits to be fully functional for space travel. His ability to create clean abstract designs is the main reason Musk chose him to visualize futuristic spacesuits apart from their similar minimal aesthetic sense.
The SpaceX custom astronaut suits are far off from the orange astronaut suits that we are accustomed to seeing. It’ll be interesting to see how future sci-fi movies adapt to the theme.
From top to bottom, the sleek all-white suits with black trims and oval black-hued helmets remind us of Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story as well as the Avengers’ Quantum Suits in the Endgame.
It does not look like an onesie suit which is a major difference from the orange suits that most Hollywood movies have till now favoured.
The black boots compliment the helmets aesthetically. Despite the black hue, the helmets will remind you heavily of George Clooney from the 2013 movie Gravity. The black and white colour scheme is favoured by Musk himself, who is a big science fiction fan. Hurley and Behnken both donned the regular orange suits during their previous missions. This would be a first for them in the custom SpaceX suits.
At a glance, Musk and Fernandez’s design gives you a clean break from age-old jail orange suits overdone by the Hollywood movies. The sleek and conservatively designed suit is more appealing to the eyes instead of baggy, puffy shuttle suits.
On camera, the suits definitely look as chic as a movie costume. In a nerd’s opinion, this suit checks off all the criteria of a great superhero costume. And it actually works!
“It’s important that the suits are comfortable and also inspiring. But above all, it’s designed to keep the crew safe.”SpaceX’s Mission Director Benji Reed
And certainly, Jose Fernandez’s astronaut suits look very cool. Actually cool enough to distinguish SpaceX astronaut’s from competition like Blue Origin and Boeing. Musk is wise enough to use pop culture to his favour. The cultural references go a long way when it comes to marketing case in point Marvel Studios.
So maybe who knows once back the suits can make their way to V&A Museum or even MET! Musk wouldn’t mind that.