We’ve known about Elon Musk’s ambitions to send human beings to Mars for quite some time. On Wednesday, Musk’s aerospace transport company made another giant leap toward these goals by revealing the SpaceX spacesuit it hopes to use to transport astronauts to and from outer space.
In 2014, NASA announced it awarded government contracts to both Boeing and SpaceX to ferry American astronauts to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX has already proven its ability to launch and land recycled rockets and also the viability of the Dragon Capsule its plans to use to ship astronauts to and from the ISS. However, despite leaked unverified images on Reddit, we had yet to see a fully functional spacesuit — a crucial aspect of any space-faring aims.
Finally, Musk shared an image of the SpaceX spacesuit on Instagram with the caption: “First picture of SpaceX spacesuit. More in days to follow. Worth noting that this actually works (not a mockup). Already tested to double vacuum pressure. Was incredibly hard to balance [a]esthetics and function. Easy to do either separately.”
Hours after the unveiling, the post had garnered more than a quarter of a million likes — and counting. It is important to note that the spacesuit isn’t a mockup. According to Musk, the suit is fully functional and successfully withstood double-vacuum pressure tests. Part Tron: Legacy, part The Rocketeer with just a dash of Power Rangers to taste, the suits are not nearly as utilitarian or cumbersome as other transport suits currently used by other space agencies. These types of spacesuits aren’t intended for extravehicular activity outside of the space station. Instead, these suits will be worn by astronauts during transport just in case the Dragon Capsule depressurizes.
Earlier in 2017, Boeing unveiled its sleek, prototype spacesuits complete with touchscreen-sensitive gloves, integrated helmet, visor, and even incorporated shoes “akin to cross trainers.” The full SpaceX suit weighs about 20 pounds, which is roughly 10 pounds lighter than similar suits currently donned by astronauts. While Boeing chose to partner with the David Clark Company for its latest iteration, SpaceX — in true Musk fashion — developed its suits in-house to minimize production costs similar to the way the company has fine-tuned its rocketry manufacturing.
While the reveal was a little light on overall specs and even a full-body view, Musk promised more information in the coming days. Whether Musk meets his ambitious goal of sending astronauts to Mars in the next five years is anyone’s guess, but this unveiling is certainly a step in the right direction.
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