Boeing is mostly known for its commercial airplanes, but the company has also been involved in developing space exploration technologies like the Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule which will be transporting new astronauts at the International Space Station, sometimes in 2018.
In preparation for the eventual launch of the spacecraft and the deployment of a new series of astronauts to the ISS, Boeing has also been hard at work developing the next generation of Starliner spacesuits. The company unveiled the launch-and-entry suits earlier this week during a presentation at one of the shuttle hangars at the Kennedy Space Center. The same location where Boeing will assemble as well as refurbish its Starliner capsule.
Compared to the current orange and bulky suits worn by shuttle crews, Boeing’s Starliner suits are lighter, more modern and made from a more flexible fabric. They even come with a pair of slim gloves which allows the wearer to manipulate touch screens. It has a hoodie for a helmet and boots looking very similar to sneakers.
Chris Ferguson, the director of the Starliner Crew and Mission Systems has stated that the new spacesuits will be the future of protective space gear. The Starliner spacesuit was designed in collaboration with the Massachusetts-based company David Clark.
One of the most drastic improvements of the new suits over the current orange Advanced Crew Escape Suit is that they weigh only 12 pounds, 18 pounds lighter than ACES. The spacesuits were developed as of the Commercial Crew Program started by NASA.
Under this program, Boeing has signed a contract worth around $4.2 billion which includes several new technologies such as the Starliner spacesuits. The new suits are just one of several other modern designs which will be developed by Boeing.
Not to be outdone, SpaceX also has its own spacesuit in the works developed for the crew which will fly to the ISS from the Kennedy Space Center on board the company’s Dragon spacecraft as early as May 2018. Furthermore, NASA is working on its own spacesuit ACES redesign for the crew onboard the Orion deep space capsule.
What do you think about the Starliner spacesuits? Are we getting any closer to the functionality promised by sci-fi suits?
Image credit: Boeing