Quick, imagine an astronaut. You’re probably visualizing a clunky and claustrophobic space suit, arms flailing about, with no dexterity. It’s basically just how mom used to dress you for a winter day.
Those days are coming to an end, and if Boeing’s latest designs for its “Boeing Blue” spacesuits are any indication, those days are upon us. Their latest suit, designed to be used with their Starliner CST-100 vessels (space capsules coming in 2018), is 40 percent lighter than previous suits, more breathable and cooler, sports a wide-view plastic visor for improved peripheral vision and allows astronauts to go from sitting to standing with the zip of a zipper.
The suit also features touchscreen-friendly gloves that will allow astronauts to interact with the capsules’ tablets. Even the boots are breathable and slip-resistant. The helmet, with its low-profile design, includes a full communications headset and a softer, flexible hood instead of a super-heavy helmet.
Shane Jacobs, Lead Suit Designer, explained that a suit worn on the Space Shuttle would have weighed about 30 pounds. The “Boeing Blue” suit, by comparison, weighs just 12 pounds. And yet the “Boeing Blue” suit is still airtight, can withstand pressure differentials, is fireproof, is cooler for the astronauts using a new high-tech material and lacks the large, cumbersome neck ring in lieu of a simple zipper.
I mean, we’d wear it. No word on its bathroom-friendliness yet, though.