To commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, GE, in conjunction with Android Homme and JackThreads are releasing an ultra-limited edition moon boot sneaker called The Missions. It’s very retro-cool. And no doubt, sneakerheads will buy out the 100 pairs instantly.
There’s just one problem. The Missions are modeled after entirely the wrong shoe.
The Missions are space race silver, mixing the simple lines of Chuck Taylors and with 1980s hightop filigree. In fact, the slim fitting silver kicks look like they were pulled straight off the cover of the film The Right Stuff. That would be fine were The Right Stuff about the moon-based Apollo missions. But it wasn’t. The Right Stuff retells the story behind the start of Project Mercury, the U.S.’s first manned flights into space.
Examining historical NASA photography, it appears that Mercury-era astronauts, fitted in the modified Navy Mark IV pressure suit, wore a fairly stock, lace-up high top that was sometimes white, sometimes silver, and sometimes wrapped in the (silver) flight suit itself, like a pair of aluminized nylon footy pajamas. For the record, The Right Stuff does the space age aesthetic justice, filtered as one might expect through the lens of 1980s-era costume design.
Of course, the shoes worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were entirely different–not just from the Mercury missions, but every space mission that had come before. Whereas even the Apollo 10 footwear looked like a hard-soled loafer coated in marshmallow paint, the Apollo 11 boot was a unique, flexible galosh worthy of Frankenstein’s monster, fitted with a heavily ridged sole designed to dig into the moon’s presumably soft surface.
“Because we didn’t really know what the surface of the Moon was like, there was a fear that the Lunar Module or the astronauts themselves would sink into the dust,” NASA engineer and suit designer Joe Kosmo has said of Apollo 11. This shoe, and its ability to perform on the Moon’s unknown surface, wasn’t a detail that NASA took lightly.
And while The Missions do pay the slightest of homage to the Apollo 11 shoe’s ridges in its sole, the similarities end there. The remainder of the aesthetic is based on the entirely wrong piece of history.
You might say that this whole mix-up doesn’t matter. It’s just a promotional rerelease of some space shoe, after all. But in fact, a team of 300 people designed the Apollo 11 boot, who were a small but integral part of the 170,000 cross-discipline engineers and designers who met President Kennedy’s absurd promise and landed mankind on the moon in just nine years. It seems like GE, Android Homme, and JackThreads could have spent five minutes Googling history before rewriting it.