Adidas is already testing soccer balls in space. Sneakers are next.

Space is definitely becoming the next frontier for the leading sporting goods brands.

A few weeks after Under Armour unveiled its proprietary space suits with Virgin Galactic, Adidas said it is teaming with the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory to bring its sneakers outside the confines of Earth.

The German sporting goods company has signed a multiyear partnership with the Lab, which is managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), in a deal that will make it the first brand to test footwear in the extreme conditions of space. By working with the Lab and technologies developed by NASA, Adidas will test its Boost technology in the antigravity conditions in hopes of improving the performance and comfort of its existing footwear models while garnering information to better create new products.

The sneakers are expected to make their first trip as early as next year and will be tested by the astronauts on board the station as a way to eventually improve the performance of all athletes, regardless of what planet they might live on.

The footwear will follow the company’s soccer balls in making the trip outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Adidas soccer balls were delivered by the NASA-contracted SpaceX CRS-18 cargo mission earlier this year and have already been tested in a series of experiments designed to better understand the characteristics of flight outside of an Earth-based wind tunnel.

The initiative is also expected to enhance Adidas’ sustainability efforts by studying how the station maximizes material usage under extreme conditions in a confined environment. By applying what it learns, Adidas hopes to enhance its circular manufacturing process back on Earth.

James Carnes, vice president of brand strategy for Adidas, said: “Working with the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory and CASIS — one of the most advanced facilities in the world — will help Adidas set new standards in performance innovation. This partnership not only allows us to co-create improvements to sport performance but to explore processes and design that could be applicable to Adidas’ dedicated efforts in sustainability as well.”

“The unique conditions of space provide the ideal environment to discover the unknown. For example, microgravity is the only condition in which we can observe specific experiments like the behavior of a spinning soccer ball without interrupting airflow and external supports holding it in place,” said Christine Kretz, vice president of program and partnerships of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. “Having control of certain variables allows us to conduct tests and collect insights that aren’t possible on Earth.” 

Under Armour is the exclusive technical spacewear partner for Virgin Galactic’s commercial space flights, which are expected to be launched sometime next year.