Since man started going into space, the suits they wore to get there have remained relatively unchanged. They’re big, bulky, and heavy. Science fiction authors and futurists have often conceptualized sleeker suits, but the technology hasn’t existed. Until now. This week, Boeing announced a brand new spacesuit, the Boeing Starliner Spacesuit, that their crew will be wearing when the CST-100 spacecraft lifts off in 2018.
According to the company, the new “Boeing Blue” suit will be more flexible than previous ascent and entry suits, without sacrificing the ability to become pressurized during an emergency. The new suit comes in at a svelt twelve pounds, that’s 40% lighter than what is worn currently.
Due to the lighter load and the breathable layer fabric that makes up the suit, astronauts wearing a Boeing Blue suit don’t need an external cooling system. The new helmet and polycarbonate visor allows far more visibility around the cockpit and it drops the ring lock for a more flexible zipper closure.
There are also touchscreen-friendly gloves for the modern interior of the Starliner spacecraft and zippers in the torso area that will make it easier for astronauts to stand, sit, and stand again.
Unfortunately, these aren’t built to go anywhere outside of the cockpit of the ship. They are designed as a precaution against sudden cabin depressurization. That said, the Boeing Blue suit is an exciting step forward and the technology is sure to pour over into suits for spacewalks.