space sneakers
July 17, 2014

GE Launches Limited Edition Sneakers To Commemorate Apollo 11 45th Anniversary

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Forty-five years after Neil Armstrong’s footwear first left an indelible mark on the lunar surface, those moon boots are being repurposed as sneakers by the company that helped develop the material that they were made from.

According to Laura Locke of USA Today, General Electric has announced that the boots worn by Armstrong on July 20, 1969 will be converted into high-top sneakers known as The Missions.

The sneakers feature a unisex design and will be made out of advanced lightweight materials.

Sam Olstein, GE’s global director of innovation in New York, told Locke that the limited-edition high-tops will be “a true modern take on the original,” paying homage to that unforgettable first moonwalk while also trying to appeal to today’s active adolescents and teenagers.

The original boots worn by the Apollo 11 crew were made out of GE-brand silicon rubber that had been specially designed for extreme weather conditions, explained Bloomberg’s Belinda Lanks. Scientists at the company were also responsible for developing the industrial-strength plastic used in the space helmet visors.

As for the new high-tops, they will be made out of “super materials” usually found in jet engines and wind turbines, she added. The sides of the shoes are made from carbon fiber, while the top collar of the sneaker is made of a highly-resistant and flexible material known as thermoplastic rubber.

The shoes, which were designed with the assistance of Los Angeles-based luxury footwear firm Android Homme, are also covered in a hydrophobic coating, which is usually used to prevent machines from icing up but in this case makes the sneakers water-resistant.

“Not surprisingly, the new moon boot has a Galactic color scheme: off-whites, silver, earth tones, and semi-clear plastic on the soles,” Locke said. “From photos, it appears there is some ‘moon dust’ sprinkled inside small cavities on the shoe's base, which probably will move around as the sneaker is worn.”

The Missions will go on sale Sunday July 20 at 4:18pm Eastern to coincide with the exact time of Armstrong’s moonwalks, with each of the 100 pairs selling for a retail price of $196.90. While the shoes are unisex, they will be available only in men’s sizes and from online menswear retailer Jack Threads, Lanks said.

The high-tops will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis, Olstein told USA Today, and there are no plans to produce additional sneakers once they sell out. Completed orders are expected to ship in late September.

“All-in all, the high-top sneaker has a lightweight, yet urban functional and sturdy look that should appeal to hipsters, collectors, and sports enthusiasts alike,” said Locke. “Fortunate buyers who manage to snag a pair of the limited-edition moon boot sneakers will surely have a collector's item on their hands.”

Earlier this week, NASA announced that it would be commemorating the 45th anniversary of the first lunar spacewalk with a series of events, including a rebroadcast of the first lunar spacewalk on Sunday evening, and live coverage of the ceremony during which the Kennedy Space Center’s Operations and Checkout Building will be renamed in honor of Armstrong on Monday morning.

FOR THE KINDLE - The History of Space Exploration: redOrbit Press