Boeing's new spacesuits will aid astronauts on deep space travel, and may advance civilian space travel.
Boeing just revealed a new line of snazzy blue spacesuits designed for NASA astronauts aboard the company’s upcoming CST-100 Starliner spaceship. The suits may someday be worn by astronauts on NASA’s Journey to Mars.
For the past decade, NASA has been hitching rides aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. When NASA retired its space shuttle in 2011, the agency looked to private companies to ferry its astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Complications caused the expected launch date to be pushed back to 2018. Fortunately, the Soyuz is still available for transport. Unfortunately for NASA, Russia has since hiked its price-per-seat in order to capitalize on its temporary monopoly, according to Business Insider.
NASA is now counting on companies like SpaceX and Boeing to deliver on contracts for the Dragon and CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. SpaxeX’s explosion in September was far from confidence-building, though the company has since explained the technical failure in detail.
Boeing’s spacesuits certainly seems to have encouraged NASA.
“Astronauts have formerly had these relatively bulky, heavy suits with thick neck rings, and we learned throughout the years [that] maybe we didn’t need that,” Chris Ferguson, former NASA astronaut and Boeing director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems, said in a promotional video.
While traditional spacesuits used by NASA weighed in at 30 pounds, Boeing’s new suit weighs just about 12 pounds. “We’ve simplified the suit,” Ferguson added. “It’s lightweight.”
The new spacesuits are stitched with a specialized material that offers pressurized mobility and pressurized comfort. The gloves are touchscreen-friendly and the soft helmet features a large and wide visor so astronauts can have better peripheral vision.
“Spacesuits have come in different sizes and shapes and designs, and I think this fits the Boeing model, fits the Boeing vehicle,” Chris Ferguson said.