Houston, Miss USA has landed. When Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel took the stage in the Miss Universe 2023 National Costume Show this week, she wore the moon.
Gabriel's costume, an homage to NASA's Apollo 11 lunar landing and current Artemis program, included an actual scale-sized moon held up over her head by an intricate frame surrounded by gleaming silver stars and an outfit bedecked by red, white and blue lights. She carried an American flag to complete the look.
"On July 20, 1969 two U.S. astronauts became the first humans to step foot on the moon accomplishing one of the most remarkable achievements in human history. Fast forward to today and women are involved more than ever in the Artemis program aiming to send the US back to the moon," Gabriel, 28. wrote of the costume on Instagram via her clothing brand R'Bonney Nola.
"As a Houston native, where the NASA space center is located, I am proud to be from a city working to send the first female to the moon," she added.
Houston is the location of NASA's Johnson Space Center, home of the agency's Mission Control Center for human spaceflight mission and astronaut training centers.
"The purpose of this costume was to inspire women in all spaces across the universe to dream big, shoot for the moon and achieve something out of this world," Gabriel wrote.
Gabriel, the first Filipina American Miss USA, chose Filipino designer Patrick Isorena to create the costume. Isorena also designed Gabriel's Miss Texas costume in the Miss USA 2022 pageant, according to ABS CBN News. Isorena told ABS CBN News that the costume weighs up to 33 pounds (15 kilograms).
The Miss Universe 2023 pageant wraps up tonight (Jan. 14) in New Orleans. The National Costume Show occurred on Thursday (Jan. 12). You can see the full National Costume Show below.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.