Boeing shows off spacesuit of the future

Boeing just unveiled its slick new 'Starliner' spacesuit to protect a new generation of NASA astronauts
Boeing Unveils New Spacesuits for Starliner Astronaut Taxi (Photos)

27 January, 2017

The suits, nick-named the "Boeing Blues", were designed specifically for those now being trained for flight in Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX Dragon capsules - which in addition to having awesome names, will serve as taxi shuttles for those traveling to and from the International Space Station (ISS). This new suit also meets the requirements of NASA for being a safety suit and has easy functionality.

Boeing unveiled its spacesuit design Wednesday as the company continues to move toward flight tests of its Starliner spacecraft and launch systems that will fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

The new "Boeing Blue" suit is created to be lighter and allow more mobility than any spacesuit before.

The full spacesuit, including integrated shoes (from Reebok) and all accessories, weighs about 20 pounds-10 pounds lighter than launch-and-entry suits worn by shuttle astronauts. Its innovative layers will keep astronauts cooler as well. Like the Advanced Crew Escape Suit, the Sokol is designed only to be used inside a spacecraft.

"Spacesuits have come in different sizes and shapes and designs, and I think this fits the Boeing model, fits the Boeing vehicle", said Boeing director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems Chris Ferguson. Several zippers can be pulled up or down to make the suit more form-fitting during sitting or walking. The spacesuit for Starliner's crew is only 12 pounds.

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The spacesuit acts as the emergency backup for the Starliner voyagers should multiple life support systems fail. If the mission goes according to the plan, then nobody needs to wear a spacesuit.

Pretty close! The major difference is that the 2001 suits had bigger helmets with sloping visors, while the new Starliner suits feature the badass domed glass visor that's reminiscent of the Apollo era. It's like having a fire extinguisher close by in the cockpit. SpaceX is working on its Dragon spacecraft while Boeing is developing and testing its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

NASA retired the space shuttle program in 2011, after which America has relied exclusively on the Russian Soyuz capsule to access the International Space Station.

"We slogged through some of the real engineering challenges and now we are getting to the point where those challenges are largely behind us and it's time to get on to the rubber meeting the road", Mr. Ferguson said.

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