Boeing unveils comfy lightweight spacesuits for future astronauts
Image credit: Boeing
Astronauts traveling to the International Space Station aboard Boeing’s new Starliner capsule in 2018 will be wearing new lightweight spacesuits designed for levels of comfort and mobility their predecessors could only dream about.
The trendy CST-100 Starliner spacesuit weighs only 5.5kg compared to the 14kg of the space shuttle line of spacesuits. The minimalistic design, however, does not jeopardise functionality and safety, Boeing said. The space suit will protect astronauts during their journey to and from the space station. It is not designed for spacewalking.
“Astronauts had formerly had these relatively bulky heavy space suits with thick neck rings,” explained Chris Ferguson, former Nasa astronaut who helped develop the design together with experienced air and spacesuit design firm David Clark. “We learned throughout the years that maybe we don’t need that.”
The spacesuit gloves are lighter and thinner than those astronauts used to wear in the past and even allow the wearer to control touchscreen devices. Also the helmet is subtler and attaches to the spacesuit innovatively with a zipper.
Ferguson said that compared to earlier spacesuits, Boeing’s blue Starliner suit provides better thermal function as well as general comfort.
“It’s something that I can stand in like this and not worry about developing a big heat load and sweating,” Ferguson said.
The David Clark Company has decades of experience designing space attire. Its designs have been worn by astronauts since the Gemini and Apollo times.
Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft is being developed in collaboration with Nasa’s Commercial Crew Program and is on contract to fly two test flights and six missions to the International Space Station, beginning in 2018.