For nearly ten years now, NASA has been dependent on Russia and its sturdy Soyuz capsules to send their astronauts into orbit, due to a lack of funds. That’s now ancient history thanks to a new start-up that specialises in aeronautics founded by Elon Musk. In 2002, the young South African made a fortune by selling shares in the company he’d established in 1999: PayPal. The entrepreneur has since joined the frantic space race, squaring up to historic behemoths such as Boeing or Lockheed Martin. In 2006, his fledgling company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), won its first contract with NASA to supply the International Space Station. Fourteen years later, on Saturday May 30th, 2020, Elon Musk launched his first Falcon-9 rocket, thus becoming the first private player in space history to launch into orbit.
For its first big outing, SpaceX designed all the equipment, from the engines to spacesuits, revealed on Wednesday May 27th on Twitter. In a futuristic white, this spacesuit with a grey trim seems to adhere less to a practical concern and more to aesthetic considerations, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction. When ventures go private, we know there’s a search for profit, rendering these astronauts a veritable showcase for desirable new products: no more heavy spacesuits, astronauts now look like Stormtroopers styled by Daft Punk.