This week’s video comes courtesy of Boeing, which has just unveiled the new spacesuit astronauts will wear on its Starliner low-Earth orbit transport vehicle.
The ‘Boeing Blue’ is about 40 per cent lighter than previous spacesuits, weighing in at just 12lbs. Instead of rigid body supports and neck rings, it features zips in the torso and neck area for greater flexibility and comfort. Mobility joints in the elbow and shoulder allow movement even when the suit is pressurised. A soft hooded helmet has an integrated headset, as well as a wide polycarbonate visor to enhance peripheral vision.
According to Boeing, permeable layers allow water vapour – but not air – to pass through the fabric. In a nod to the digital age, the suit’s gloves are equipped with material to enable interaction with touchscreens.
Intended for near-Earth missions such as travelling to and from the International Space Station, the suit is designed to protect astronauts in the event of cabin fires or depressurisation. It was developed with the help of former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, now Boeing director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems.
“It feels good to walk around in Boeing Blue. Spacesuits have come in different sizes and shapes and designs, and I think this fits the Boeing model, fits the Boeing vehicle,” Ferguson said.
The suit should be put through its paces in space for the first time in 2018 when the CST-100 Starliner is scheduled for its maiden voyage.