According to Doctor Who pundit and YouTuber Richard Lloyd, the orange Sanctuary Base 6 spacesuits that continue to sneak into Doctor Who episodes were apparently inspired by — you guessed it — real NASA spacesuits. But these aren’t the ones you’re probably thinking of.
As Lloyd explained in a 2020 video, Gary Russell’s Doctor Who: The Inside Story book includes a few excerpts from costume designer Louise Page, who says she originally created a large, white, and puffy design as a nod to the clothing the astronauts had planned during the legendary Apollo missions from 1968 to 1972 (via NASA). But writer Russell T. Davies objected, instead insisting that the suits should be modeled after NASA’s orange spacesuit collection used during Space Shuttle missions from 1972 to 2011.
According to Russell’s book, Davies ultimately preferred orange because in the film it contrasted better with the dark setting of Krop Tor, the planet where David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor was when the suit first appeared. Later iterations didn’t add the Sanctuary Base 6 patches and insignia seen on the original, leading some to wonder if they all have the same suit or just different ones. The BBC has hinted they are the same on numerous occasions in the past, but nothing has been confirmed.