A year and a half after first unveiling its futuristic uniform, which drew a combination of admiration for innovative design and criticism for baggy pants, the Space Force is completing fit testing, the service announced March 30.
One hundred guardians tried on the uniforms as part of the fit-testing phase, a process that began in February at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado.
The service declared the conclusion of the testing "an important milestone in delivering a first-rate uniform," in a press release.
Fit-testers took the members' measurements to help fine-tune the sizes and fit of the uniform, which service officials have previously lauded for its gender neutral design meant to accommodate a diverse set of body types.
The diagonally arrayed offset jacket buttons were immediately compared to designs employed for costuming on the "Star Trek" franchise, while a standing collar, and loose pants that were part of the prototypes in September 2021, drew headlines. (The pants were later tweaked.)
Ahead of fit-testing, uniformed guardians -- the Space Force's name for its members -- had already provided feedback during a "roadshow" phase of the new uniform's development.
At the same time, top leaders began appearing in it. Both Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman and his predecessor in the role, Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, wore theirs at the ceremony in November 2022 where Saltzman took charge.
Service officials were quick to credit the rank and file for helping to tweak the uniform design.
"In many ways," they "helped select our current service dress design," said Wade Yamada, the Space Force's deputy director of staff, in the news release that announced the end of fit-testing.
Officials have said women's comfort was a priority in the new design, something the other services have at times struggled with as they looked to modify models built around men's bodies for use by a force that's increasingly diverse.
Next comes the wear-testing phase.
Starting this summer, certain guardians will wear the new uniforms three times a week to rate how durable, comfortable and functional they really are.
Uniformed guardians currently wear pins on both lapels of their Air Force dress uniforms -- referred to as the Space Force's interim service dress uniform -- to signify their membership in the Space Force.
The Space Force uniform's diagonal buttons -- six of them to represent the service's chronological status as the sixth U.S. military service -- aren't the only departure in the service's approach to uniforms.
The Institute of Heraldry, a part of the Defense Department housed within the Department of the Army, has already begun making Space Force unit insignia out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic instead of the typical embroidered patch style. The PVC helps small details to stand out, such as the stars in various Space Force insignia.
The Space Force is aiming to deliver the new dress uniforms to its members in late 2025.
-- Amanda Miller can be reached at email@example.com.