Boeing Reveals New 'Lighter And More Comfortable' Spacesuits For Starliner SpacecraftBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Boeing has unveiled new spacesuits for Starliner astronauts. It is described as "lighter and more comfortable" than what earlier astronauts wore. In its official website, NASA confirmed that the suits met its requirements for safety and functionality. It also has cutting-edge innovations and capitalized on historical designs.
Boeing revealed the spacesuit design on Wednesday. The company is continuing its development for flight tests of the Starliner spacecraft and launch systems, which is expected to send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
The new design uses advanced materials and new joint patterns which makes it lighter and more flexible. The helmet and visor has been incorporated into the suit rather than making it detachable. Other new developments are touchscreen-sensitive gloves and vents that give astronauts the option to be cooler but can still fill the suit with pressure immediately.
The full suit weighs a total of about 20 pounds, even with the integrated shoe. This is 10 pounds lighter than the launch-and-entry suits worn by space shuttle astronauts.
Moreover, the material of Boeing's new Starliner suit allows water vapor to pass out of it, away from the astronaut, to make it cooler without lessening its safety. It also keeps air inside.
Richard Watson, subsystem manager for spacesuits for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said that the spacesuit will serve as the emergency backup to the spacecraft's "redundant life support systems." Astronauts Eric Boe, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Suni Williams have tried Boeing's new Starliner spacesuit.
According to The Verge, the new Boeing suits are designed by David Clark Company. They are not meant to be used for spacewalks but only while astronauts are riding inside Starliner to and from the ISS.
It was previously reported that Boeing is set to have two demonstrations for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Its first schedule will be on Jun. 2018, which is uncrewed, is deemed as the Boeing Orbital Flight Test. The second demonstration for Boeing will be two months after its first mission, on Aug. 2018.