The new Boeing Blue spacesuit to be used by NASA is straight out of sci-fi

27 Jan 2017

Chris Ferguson, director of crew and mission systems for Boeing, wearing the new spacesuit. Image: Boeing

The brilliant white suits of the NASA Apollo missions are looking quite old in comparison to the new, bright blue spacesuits of the future, recently revealed by Boeing.

It has been nearly 50 years since the Apollo 11 astronauts became the first humans to walk on the moon in their bulky spacesuits, but even by today’s standards, it would appear that not much has changed.

Boeing has revealed its ‘Boeing Blue’ spacesuit, which aims to bring astronauts into the 21st century when they travel aboard the company’s Starliner spacecraft for trips to and from the International Space Station.

Compared with previous spacesuits, the Boeing Blue will be 40pc lighter, offering the astronauts greater pressurised mobility, which should not only make it more comfortable, but better prepared in the event of an emergency.

The suit is also designed to keep the astronaut cooler by emitting water vapour, while the boots are breathable and slip-resistant. With touchscreen-friendly gloves, they will be to interact with the capsule’s tablets.

Some familiar zippers have also been placed on the torso area of the suit to make it easier for astronauts to comfortably transition from sitting to standing.

The suit’s communications systems have been upgraded with a smaller, more powerful set-up in the helmet, which should make it easier to keep in touch with crews on the ground.

The familiar visor on an astronaut’s spacesuit that prevents them from the blinding and irradiating sunlight is now made from polycarbonate, to give astronauts aboard the Starliner better peripheral vision throughout their ride to and from space.

These spacesuits, which look more like something from 2001: A Space Odyssey than anything else, will likely be available by the end of 2018.

Boeing spacesuit

Boeing’s Chris Ferguson. Image: Boeing

Will likely see action in 2018

Similar to its competitor SpaceX – which has made huge leaps in reusable rocket technology – the Starliner crewed capsule won’t begin any testing with humans until at least August 2018.

“To me, it’s a very tangible sign that we are really moving forward and we are a lot closer than we’ve been,” said Chris Ferguson, the director of crew and mission systems for Boeing.

“The next time we pull all this together, it might be when astronauts are climbing into the actual spacecraft.”

Starliner fitting

Testing the Boeing Blue in the Starliner. Image: Boeing

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic