High on Style: NASA, Victoria’s Secret, and a Next-Generation Spacesuit

What do you get when you cross a Victoria’s Secret designer, a Russian engineer, and some NASA funding? Punch lines abound, but in this case the answer is edgy (yet practical) spacewear.

Meet Nik Moiseev and Ted Southern. Moiseev is a Russian engineer who’s spent the last 20-plus years working on spacesuit design. Southern is an American artist responsible, among other things, for the angel wings we’ve all seen attached to Victoria’s Secret catwalk models.

Moiseev and Southern are an unlikely pair. Moiseev, a native of Russia, grew up reading science fiction and dreaming of spaceflight. Southern moved to New York City with a singular ambition – to make body armor. And, after landing his first job in a costume shop, he never looked back.

The two found each other after competing in a 2007 Centennial Challenge set by NASA to create a next-generation space glove.

Neither of them won the competition, but Southern offered Moiseev a ride back to New York City after the event, and during the car journey a friendship blossomed and a possible collaboration took root.

Two years later, the pair entered a similar competition together, and this time their joint design won second place. Their space glove design outperformed the current NASA glove used on space missions, and Moiseev and Southern were awarded a $100,000 grant to develop their five-finger glove further.

The most problematic part of a spacesuit is the glove. Astronauts must be able to use their hands as freely as possible, but gloves can often be cumbersome. The best gloves allow for increased mobility and create less torque.

With the money Moiseev and Southern received from NASA, the two started their own Brooklyn based business Final Frontier Design, and last year they launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the creation of a next-generation spacesuit.

The team is currently working on an ultra-light single-layer IVA (intra-vehicular activity) suit, compression pants, gloves and communication systems. They’re collaborating with Spanish high-altitude balloon company zero2infinity to test out their technology.

About Nancy Pardo

Nancy Pardo is a Seattle-based writer and editor. She holds an MA in Professional Writing. She began her career as a Washington DC-area reporter, moving on to become an editor and contributor for several top industry magazines in the U.S. and the Middle East. Nancy currently works for PTC as content marketing director and manages the company's award-winning blog Product Lifecycle Stories.
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