Boeing Unveils Designer Spacesuits for Shuttle to International Space Station

Boeing Unveils Designer Spacesuits for Shuttle to International Space Station

The design for the new astronaut suit has been enhanced and is lighter now.

"The suit capitalizes on historical designs, meets NASA requirements for safety and functionality, and introduces cutting-edge innovations", the release stated on Wednesday.

Boeing has unveiled new lightweight spacesuits that could make their launch-pad debut early as next year, when the aerospace company's CST-100 Starliner space capsule is scheduled to take its first manned test flight and, eventually, carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

The suit features lighter and more flexible materials, a helmet and visor incorporated into the suit, touchscreen-sensitive gloves, and integrated shoes.

The Starliner is a crew capsule designed for NASA's Commercial Crew Development program, an effort to broaden space travel beyond the confines of government-led missions. Its innovative layers will keep astronauts cooler as well.

Gone is the thick neck ring that connected a protective helmet to the shuttle's bright orange, pressurized flight suits.

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Materials in the elbows and knees give astronauts more movement, too, while strategically located zippers allow them to adapt the suit's shape when standing or seated. Another feature which is bound to make crewmembers really happy is that the Starliner suits allow water vapor to pass through, away from the astronauts, while remaining airtight.

Sometimes, Nasa astronauts will wear the Russian Orlan spacesuit.

The spacesuit acts as the emergency backup for the Starliner voyagers should multiple life support systems fail.

The manned tests are set to begin in 2018. The suits are not designed for spacewalks; the large, bulky "extravehicular mobility units" that astronauts use for this latter objective are already aboard the ISS. If the mission goes according to the plan, then nobody needs to wear a spacesuit. The complex was previously used for non-crewed spacecraft, beginning with the launch of the Titan rockets in 1965 which was followed by the Atlas V in 2002. "You need it to be effective if it is needed".

This new iteration of spacesuit is one of the most streamlined to date. SpaceX's commercial crew Dragon spacecraft is also in testing.

Since the retirement of the space shuttles back in July 2011, NASA relied on the spacecraft sent by Russia, Soyuz.