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See NASA’s Astronauts’ Suit Designs For Its First Commercial Flights
By Yoon Sann Wong, 06 Aug 2018
Image via Boeing
On Friday, NASA announced the first nine astronauts scheduled to travel aboard Boeing’s ‘CST-100 Starliner’ and SpaceX’s ‘Crew Dragon’ commercial spacecrafts for initial test flights and missions from Earth to the International Space Station (ISS).
This initiative comes under NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which aims to resume the launching of US astronauts from US soil, and will mark the first crew departing from the US since NASA’s Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.
“This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight,” announced NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine inside a press release.
NASA said it has worked closely with Boeing and SpaceX throughout the design, development, and testing process, to ensure that these systems were up to par with NASA’s safety and performance standards.
The ‘Starliner’ test flight will be crewed by Eric Boe, Christopher Ferguson, and Nicole Aunapu Mann. The ‘Crew Dragon’ test flight squad includes Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.
The ‘Starliner’ first mission astronauts comprise Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams. The ‘Crew Dragon’ first mission astronauts consists Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins.
With the test flights scheduled to take place later this year, many are looking forward to following the astronauts’ journeys until launch date, including their gear for the missions.
These spacesuits have been specifically designed for the astronauts’ use inside the spacecraft en route to the space station, and are not intended for spacewalks.
Unlike SpaceX’s futuristic spacesuit design, Boeing has debuted a rich ‘Boeing Blue’ spacesuit, weighing 20lbs (9kg) each.
It’s basically a lighter, slimmer, and improved version of NASA’s iconic orange “pumpkin” spacesuit that weighed 30lbs (13.6kg) each.
These orange suits won't be related to NASA anymore😂 pic.twitter.com/MBmIVUf52P— a misses 1d (@KiwiiStylez) September 19, 2016
These advanced suits are made of a more flexible material compared to predecessors, and come with touchscreen gloves so astronauts can easily access digital displays.
Unlike former designs, where the helmet was detachable from the body suit, the ‘Boeing Blue’ comes with helmet, visor, and shoes incorporated into the body component. Vents have also been included for greater aeration whilst enabling instant pressurization.
Richard Watson, subsystem manager for spacesuits for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, explained inside a press release, “If everything goes perfectly on a mission, then you don’t need a spacesuit. It’s like having a fire extinguisher close by in the cockpit. You need it to be effective if it is needed.”
Image via NASA
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk debuted the futuristic SpaceX suit end 2017 that closely resembles a Storm Trooper’s uniform. While few details are known, it is expected to comprise safety elements that coincide NASA’s ACES spacesuits, such as emergency breathing system, liquid cooling arrangement, and auto-inflatable parachute.
[via Space and NASA, images via various sources]
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