So here’s one I didn’t see coming: Navy’s uniform for this year’s Army/Navy game, which will take place on Dec. 10, has an astronaut/NASA theme. That seems pretty weird, given that (a) NASA is not connected to the U.S. military, and (b) the navy specializes in, you know, water, not outer space.
But as explained in the press release, 54 Naval Academy graduates have gone on to become astronauts, the most of any institution. I had no idea, and would never have guessed that. So if nothing else, this uniform has taught me something interesting. (Also, the part of the moon where the first manned lunar landing took place is called the Sea of Tranquility — sea, get it? Amazingly, this is not referenced in the press release.)
Still, NASA connection or no NASA connection, they’ve gone a bit overboard with the helmet. Check it out (complete with faux-moonscape setting):
I mean, does that make you think of the Navy?
The rest of the uniform, though, is nice enough:
This is at least the third NASA-themed uniform to be unveiled by a top-level sports team this year (the other two one being UCF’s latest “Space Game” uniform and the Houston Astros’ City Connect uniform). You can see lots of additional photos of it here.
Naturally, there’s also a lot of “storytelling” silliness. The best (read: worst) bit is about the footwear: “The cleats are all white to mimic astronaut moon boots with shiny dots to represent stars.” Keep in mind that Navy routinely wears white cleats, so going ivory-footed isn’t exactly a revolutionary thing for them. And what do these new lunar-inspired cleats look like? Let’s see:
Wow — groundbreaking.
Phil will go into much more detail on this uniform, as well as the Army uniform (which hasn’t yet been unveiled), in his annual Army/Navy preview, which will run in a few weeks, so stay tuned for that.
Laughable marketing speech or not, I like the idea that part of the Timberwolves uniform is not uniform. The rest of it is still uniform enough to make it an uniform. As for the Navy, the helmet is too much but the rest of the uniform is nice indeed. And you forget to mention the UCF space theme uniform so this one makes it three NASA related uniforms for this year, I think.
Well, UCF does it *every* year, so that feels a little different, but your point is well taken. I’ll add that to the text!
And what a fun article about Space U did you link it with. Thanks, Paul!
The Astronaut on the “overdone” helmet is also Alan Shepard. First American in space, first untethered space walk, and 1945 Naval Academy Grad. So say what you want, I think this is actually a super creative uniform that highlights a very unique part of the school’s history while still keeping things Navy/Red/White. Which I think is the point of these alternates unlike a BFBS or wearing camo for 11/11.
Ummm…. the astronaut who performed the first untethered space walk (and thus, depicted on the helmet) is link, a 1958 Naval Academy grad, who performed the feat on mission link from Space Shuttle Challenger in February 1984.
Alan Shepard was the first American in space and walked on the moon as commander of Apollo 14, but never performed a spacewalk, tethered or untethered, in Earth orbit. He was grounded during the Gemini program due to an inner ear condition.
That’s Bruce McCandless II, on STS-41-B.
Alan Shepard and Gus Grissoms ‘flights’ were both suborbital and thus they did not reach or surpass the official designated line that constitutes ‘outer space, thus Shepard is not the first American in outer space.
That would be John Glenn.
No, that’s not correct; “outer space” is anything beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. The difference between suborbital and orbital flight is one of velocity, not altitude. Shepard and Grissom both reached outer space by flying their respective Mercury capsules (Freedom 7 and Liberty Bell 7) about 40 nautical miles above the atmosphere, but not fast enough to achieve orbit. Thus, Shepard is rightly regarded as the first American in space, Glenn as the first in orbit.
I’ve not heard this allegation before, and I’m having difficulty finding any sources that support it.
The lower boundary of “outer space” has a number of definitions (link), depending on the source.
The FAI uses 62 mi as an estimate of the altitude above which aerodynamic lift at sub-orbital speed is insufficient to sustain flight. NASA used 400kft (~76 miles) as the altitude marking the beginning of re-entry.
Shepard’s Freedom 7 flight reached an apogee of 117 mi, well in excess of any boundary definition I’m able to find. What altitude are you using?
The helmet is especially overdone considering how rad the NASA logo is. They could have done something very 60s-inspired
I wonder whether there’s any aspect of interservice rivalry represented in the Navy NASA duds. Space Force is A) Ridiculous; B) A resource drain from the other services, in their eyes; and B) Widely disrespected as an institution by the other services, which each have history, missions, doctrine, esprit de corps, and personnel of their own, most of which Space Force lacks. And the Navy already does a fair bit of space stuff even beyond the history of naval aviators becoming civilian astronauts.
As much as I’m a fan of the Navy, and of NASA, and of the many great naval aviators who’ve served as pioneering astronauts, I’m not a fan of this Navy uniform. But if it is a subtle jab at the Air Force and its embryonic spinoff Space Force, in that case I approve.
You can certainly question if the Space Force needed to be branched off from the Air Force, but by no means is the mission or existence of the Space Force is ridiculous. The value of military and civilian assets in space is incalculable. There is a very real need for protection of those assets.
Given that the Navy (and Marines), Army, and Coast Guard all have air combat capabilities, you could also say the Air Force is drain on their resources. Likewise aren’t the Navy and Coast Guard somewhat redundant? There will always be overlap, the reality is much like the creation of the Air Force in 1947 as aviation became more and more critical, at some point it was going to be determined a unique branch of the military focused specifically on space based security would be needed.
I agree. After looking at what the Space Force actually DOES, it’s not ridiculous at all and it does free up the Air Force for other needs as well as NASA on science. Plus, if you think about it, the Space Force could fight off other countries on Earth that have a Space Force (i.e. Russians trying to sabotage satellites), not aliens.
So for this one moon uniform, I guess we can rename “Good or Stupid?” “Does it rock, or did it crater?”
Space Force since 2018 is 4-1 vs Navy….maybe they got the lack of esprit thing figured out.
The rest of the uniform is sharp looking, the NASA helmet is just silly.
A stark white helmet with the worm logo in red would look really crisp, disappointed they went the airbrush route when the rest of the uniform has a clean look to it.
They should have done the Navy wordmark on the chest in the NASA ‘worm’ font, that would have been such an easy slam dunk I can’t believe they missed it.
Through the evidence of the meatball logo on the sleeve it looks like Navy worked with NASA directly on the design (rather than a general space-y theme) and I can see NASA finding a Navy worm being a little too close to the original for their liking. Or maybe they just couldn’t find a way to make the “Y” look good in that font.
The Miami Heat ransom note jerseys are also designed to not be uniform, since each player gets to choose the font for his number(s).
Ah, great point — hadn’t thought of that one!
I like the Timberwolves’ non-uniform uniform as a uniform – it’s probably an idea more designers should explore – but I’m curious. The whole point of having 248 uniforms is to move retail product, so are all of the replica jerseys the same? Is each one different? Are there like 20 templates? Do all the Rudy Gobert replicas look like the jersey Gobert’s wearing in the photo above?
Funniest thing about the Timberwolves uniforms—they’re each supposed to be unique, right? Look at the player in the middle of the above photo and the one to his left (on the right). Their color pattern is exactly the same! So they’ve already failed at this ridiculous idea.
Actually, while they are similar, they are not the same: link
It’s basically the same design rotated a little to the right. The pattern on the shorts looks different, though.
It looks to me like they created one long band of colors, and then cut out different sections for each uniform.
It looks like the American flag on the back of the Navy helmet is missing the bottom red stripe. ??
I’m torn on this Navy uni.
4-year-old Me LOVES it, so that’ll be my overall feeling.
Current Me, on the other hand, wants to point out:
1) Alan Shepard’s Apollo 14 mission was in 1971 (when I was 4). Why didn’t they wear this last year to celebrate the 50th anniversary?
2) I always hope for a little bit of snow during the Army/Navy Game, but with one team wearing white shirts and pants, I’ll just ask for cloudy weather instead.
3) While in the past this could look like an intrasquad game, these teams have a really good thing going on with their regular unis. It would be nice to see Navy’s gold/white/blue vs Army’s gold/black/gold (or even black/black/gold), but I don’t think we’re ever going back to the days of regular unis for this matchup.
Anyway, I’d wear that.
Hope I can say the same when Army does their unveiling.
The 1-2 years that Army was coached by vagabond Head Coach Lou Saban (1978-79?), he actually had Army wearing BLACK helmets for their regular uniform, and I remember the Army/Navy Game having contrasting helmets for the first time in my memory, after many years of – yes – looking like an intrasquad game.
I totally agree on your assessment of the Navy unis this year – they look good but could have done much better with using traditional NASA logo and a less-is-more approach. Just because you CAN put a Rembrandt print upon a modern football helmet does not mean that you should, or, that it looks anywhere nearly as good as a more sensible, simpler and less extravagant approach to helmet markings.
Whenever I think of purposely non-uniform uniforms, I think of the Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings and how their uniforms purposely spelled out the whole name of the team if they stood together in the right order.
That was exactly my first thought! It seems very similar to the rainbow pattern on their uniforms.
Rice football also has a NASA-themed uniform back in September- link. If anything, it’s even more NASA-y than the others because it was specifically Artemis I-themed for the current ongoing mission.
And Air Force had specific “Space Force” unis this year for their “Air Power” series.
The greatest non-uniform Uniforms were the bronze-medal-winning Lithuanian basketball team in 1992. Everything else is competing for second place
The Navy uniform reminds me a fair amount of the Montreal Alouettes’ road uniform (in a good way, as the Als have an underrated look IMO):
So we should be calling the Timberwolves’ City alternates “similars” then, instead of uniforms?
I’m confused as well about the Navy Space uniform. I’m a UCF grad, so I get their annual tie-in. The school was founded as a support for the space program. They were originally the Citronauts. And the Air Force’s Space Force uniform … kind of made sense because the Space Force is under the purview of the USAF (like the Marines and Navy). But I would not immediately partner space with Navy. I love space themed stuff, so I like some of the components. But it just seems … odd. Plus they stuck the Marines logo on the pants too – make up your mind! What are you honoring.
Or maybe I’m just salty because Navy beat UCF last week and messed up our season.
The photographer, James Quantz, has a great youtube video of the photo shoot. link