Astronauts will sport new, high-tech spacesuits when Boeing Company’s spacecraft blasts off for the International Space Station in 2018.
The newly designed gloves, for example, will let astronauts interact with instruments on touch screens. The boots, from sportswear company Reebok, will be more slip-resistant.
“The most important part is that the suit will keep you alive,” astronaut Eric Boe said. “It is a lot lighter, more form-fitting and it’s simpler, which is always a good thing. Complicated systems have more ways they can break, so simple is better on something like this.”
While traditional suits weigh more than 13 kilograms, the new one checks in at 9 kg.
Advanced materials, high-tech vents and strategically placed zippers make movement easier for astronauts.
One of the biggest changes involves the helmet. Astronauts will no longer have to worry about detaching their helmets from their suits or not hearing their crew mates. The new helmet zips into place and integrates the communication systems.
NASA has deemed the new suit safe, functional and innovative.
Boeing’s launch vehicle, the Starliner spacecraft, will carry four astronauts at a time, with the new suits protecting the crew during launch. Previous launches transported three astronauts, so the Starliner enables the International Space Station to welcome more residents.
More astronauts? That means more science aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Private company SpaceX is also working on its own vehicle and spacesuits for astronauts bound for orbit.
What will their suit look like? We don’t know for sure, but the design might get some help from Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez, responsible for superhero looks in Thor and the X-Men series.