Boeing Aerospace Company hopes to get astronauts delivered to the International Space Station by 2018. But bulky spacesuits are not part of the NASA plan.
Astronauts flying the Earth-ISS will receive new royal blue spacesuits with a helmet and gloves with touch screens mounted on them.
Presented on Wednesday, spacesuits weigh about 20 feet, compared to the 30-foot suits worn by members of previous missions.
“Astronauts were uncomfortable working in large and heavy suits with thick rings around the neck. And now we find out that we don’t even need most of the details, ”said Chris Ferguson, director of crew and mission systems for Boeing.
Ferguson knows about old costumes firsthand. Prior to his current assignment, he was an NASA astronaut and made three flights in a spacecraft. In July 2011, he acted as commander.
“We simplified the suit,” he says.
The thick ring around the neck disappeared, and the helmet was hooked up to a bright orange shuttle covering the flight suits. The new “Boeing Blue” suits are still airtight, but softer and with a built-in helmet, which is attached with a zipper-fastener.
Ferguson (left) and the crew of the last shuttle mission during the reporting procedure. They are wearing NASA orange suits.
New costumes are also much cooler. “You can lie without any external cooling,” he says. And they are less bulky.
Boeing expects to begin transporting crews to the ISS at the end of 2018 using its CST-100 Starliner capsules launched by Atlas-5 missiles.
A new Boeing spacesuit designed to fly the CST-100 Starliner.
Since the shuttles were withdrawn from circulation, NASA depends on Russia for shipments to a station 250 miles above the earth’s surface.
NASA is also acquiring flights to SpaceX, which develops the passenger version of its Dragon capsule. But the project on the spacesuit, they have not yet submitted.