Boeing has unveiled the new spacesuit that astronauts will wear on its upcoming Starliner spacecraft in 2018 – and aside from all the latest mod cons, it looks pretty good too.
This suit will be worn by astronauts as they travel to and from space aboard the Starliner. It’s not used for spacewalks, but rather is a pressure suit used in case of a problem aboard the vehicle. On the Space Shuttle, astronauts used an iconic orange jumpsuit, and on Russia’s Soyuz they use the Sokol suits.
The major advantage of Boeing’s suit is its weight, coming in at about 9 kilograms (20 pounds) – about 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) lighter than the Shuttle’s suit. It also has easily removable gloves with fingers that can use capacitive touchscreens, and a simplified helmet system that uses a zip, doing away with bulky designs of the past.
A zip makes the new helmets easy to take off and put on. Boeing
The helmet and wide polycarbonate visor – affording better peripheral vision – are both directly built into the suit like a hood, so they don’t need the bulky attachment rings used on previous suits. Vents also keep the occupant cool, while still allowing it to be pressurized immediately. And the suit as a whole is more flexible, with zips in the torso making it easy to switch between sitting and standing.
“Spacesuits have come in different sizes and shapes and designs, and I think this fits the Boeing model, fits the Boeing vehicle,” said Chris Ferguson, Boeing director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems and a former NASA astronaut, in a statement. Ferguson helped design the spacesuit.
Four people will fly on Starliner at first. Boeing
The CST-100 Starliner is one of two spacecraft being funded by NASA to start launching astronauts in the next few years. The first manned flight of Starliner is expected in August 2018, while the other vehicle – SpaceX’s Dragon capsule – is expected slightly earlier in May 2018. SpaceX have yet to reveal their spacesuits, but its rumored a superhero costume designer helped with their design.
Starliner will be taking four astronauts on each flight to the International Space Station (ISS) at first, although it will eventually be able to take seven people to space. All of them will be kitted out in these “Boeing Blue” spacesuits.