Now that SpaceX and Boeing are working on sending commercial-crewed vehicles into space as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, what will these astronauts be donning in the way of clothing when they launch into space?
At the end of this year, the first uncrewed test flights will be launching as part of NASA’s program. However, once 2019 rolls around the excitement will really begin as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner will have their first real crews with astronauts on board, and NASA has just announced the names of these very special people, as the Inquisitrreported.
When it comes to the clothing that may be worn as these astronauts launch into orbit, there are the deep blue spacesuits that Boeing have designed which are in marked contrast to the deeply futuristic spacesuits favored by SpaceX.
But it is important to remember that these spacesuits have been designed with the goal of clothing astronauts as they head to the space station only, and that when it comes to actually being out in space itself and doing fun things like spacewalking, astronauts will still be required to wear the special white suits that protect them from the immense vacuum of space.
According to Space, the blue spacesuits that Boeing have concocted for the commercial crew launch are very much in keeping with the traditional “pumpkin suit” designed by NASA that is technically called the Advanced Crew Escape Space Suit System (ACES).
Astronauts who will be launched into space on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner will be wearing these spacesuits, although it has been reported that they are much more comfortable and slim than the classic NASA pumpkin suits that were used in the past, weighing in at just 20 pounds.
The Boeing Blue spacesuits also have a host of new features on them that NASA’s older suits didn’t have, which include special gloves that will let astronauts more easily manipulate touch screen digital displays on spacecraft. The helmets on Boeing’s spacesuits will also be of a soft variety and built right into the suit, unlike the hard helmets that NASA once designed and which could be detached from the suit.
As astronaut Suni Williams noted, “Advancement in material technologies allow us to do things like use touch screens. Both new suits also are designed to make it easier to see inside the spacecraft.”
In terms of general comfort, NASA astronaut Eric Boe explained that spacesuit technology has marched steadily forward and has changed drastically from the days of the space shuttle.
“The spacesuits are much more comfortable than those from the shuttle days: lighter, simpler, require less cooling, and easier to work with. The technology from these suits came from those of the past.”
The design for the new SpaceX spacesuit is fascinating because it was developed by Jose Fernandez, who is a costume designer in Hollywood, and known for the creation of outfits that have graced movie screens everywhere in films like Wonder Woman, Captain America: Civil War, Wolverine, and Batman vs. Superman.
The SpaceX spacesuit can be seen to be predominantly white, with a handful of black detailing on it, and can even be worn inside a vacuum chamber, according to Elon Musk.
While much of their new spacesuit is still a mystery, you can be sure that as it is SpaceX it is going to be both functional and extremely stylish.
With astronauts busy preparing for the 2019 launch with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, it is certain that between SpaceX and Boeing their new spacesuits will be anything but boring.