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Raumfahrt - Boeings futuristische neuen Starliner-Raumanzüge in Blau

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Boeing's futuristic new Starliner spacesuits feature plenty of blue

 

 

 

 

Lightweight, breathable fabric. Slim gloves with fingers that can manipulate touch screens. Sneaker-like boots, and a hoodie for a helmet.

And plenty of Velcro.

Those are among the features of the spacesuit astronauts will wear aboard Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsules flying from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station, possibly in the summer of 2018.

The company on Wednesday unveiled a new launch-and-entry suit inside a former shuttle hangar at Kennedy Space Center, where Boeing will assemble and refurbish Starliners.

Compared to the bulky orange “pumpkin” suits worn by shuttle crews, the “Boeing blue” suits are lighter and more modern, said former astronaut Chris Ferguson, Boeing’s director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems.

 

“We like to think this represents the future of what protective space gear will be,” Ferguson said during an event broadcast on Facebook Live.

Boeing’s suit, designed with the Massachusetts-based David Clark Co., weighs about 12 pounds, compared to 30 pounds for NASA’s orange suits formally called the Advanced Crew Escape Suit, or ACES.

Developed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, under which Boeing has a contract worth up to $4.2 billion, the suit is the first of several modern designs to be released.

SpaceX will have its own spacesuit for crews flying from KSC to the ISS in Dragon spacecraft, possibly as soon as May 2018. NASA is modifying the ACES suit for crews expected to fly in Orion deep space capsules in the early 20s.

Boeing’s suit includes boots that resemble running shoes, designed in collaboration with Reebok. White feet gradually bleed into blue pant legs that can be unzipped at the ankles.

Boxy gray pockets on the legs offer room to stow survival gear, pencils or tools. Velcro leg straps provide more places to secure gear that would otherwise float away in microgravity.

Blue gloves clipped to the arms are slim and flexible enough to allow crew members to operate tablets loaded with procedures and checklists.

In one fashion-forward flourish, blue and gray pleats line the upper arms and shoulders. Ferguson said the folds were mainly decorative, covering stitching that provides mobility when the suits are inflated.

Astronauts will wear headsets for protection and communications, similar to those worn on aircraft carrier decks. Over those will be pulled a soft, blue hood and clear polycarbonate visor, rather than a hard “bubble” helmet.

The hood’s front zips to the neck instead of a hard helmet fastening to a heavy metal ring. Interior flaps provide an airtight seal.

The “get us home suit,” as Ferguson called it, couldn't be used for a spacewalk. It's intended to provide air and cooling to keep astronauts safe during launch and landings back on land, and during emergencies, like if a micrometeoroid strike caused a loss of cabin pressure.

“Space is an unforgiving and hazardous environment,” said Ferguson. “What the space suit does is create an artificial environment for them to survive until they can get safely back to land.”

Boeing plans to test the Starliner's launch escape system next January in New Mexico. An orbital test flight without a crew could fly by June 2018, before a two-person crew of Boeing and NASA test pilots boards that August in their new blue flight suits.

Quelle: Florida Today

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Boeing Starliner spacesuit
Boeing’s Chris Ferguson, a former astronaut, models the Starliner spacesuit. (Boeing via YouTube)

 

The spacesuit designed for astronauts riding Boeing’s Starliner space taxi makes a fashion statement for the 21st century, from its touchscreen-sensitive gloves to its color-coordinated shoes.

And all of it in Boeing blue.

The spacesuit made its public debut today during a media extravaganza at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson as one of the emcees.

“I was essentially the model for this as they built the suit around me,” said Ferguson, who commanded the final space shuttle mission in 2011 and now serves as Boeing’s director of crew and mission systems.

The CST-100 Starliner is being developed as a transport vehicle for NASA crews heading to and from the International Space Station. There’s a chance that Ferguson could take a ride as a Boeing test pilot, but for now, the composition of the initial crews is up in the air.

NASA has tapped four current astronauts – Eric Boe, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Suni Williams – to train for the first round of commercial flights on the Starliner as well as on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

All four of those astronauts have been involved in testing the Starliner suit, which is designed for use inside the spacecraft during launch and entry.

“The most important part is that the suit will keep you alive,” Boe said in a NASA report on the unveiling. “It is a lot lighter, more form-fitting and it’s simpler, which is always a good thing. Complicated systems have more ways they can break, so simple is better on something like this.”

At less than 20 pounds, the suit weighs about 10 pounds less than the traditional orange launch-and-entry suit used during the shuttle era. The material lets water vapor pass through to keep astronauts from getting drenched in sweat, while retaining the air inside the suit.

Starliner spacesuit graphic
NASA’s graphic highlights design features of the Starliner spacesuit.

The launch-and-entry suit can’t be used during spacewalks. Extravehicular activity requires a much bulkier suit that weighs about 280 pounds. “This is really something used internally, in the spacecraft only,” Ferguson explained.

The suit, designed by David Clark Company for Boeing, is meant to be pressurized in the event of an in-flight emergency.

“The spacesuit acts as the emergency backup to the spacecraft’s redundant life support systems,” said Richard Watson, subsystem manager for spacesuits for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “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.”

 

A lightweight helmet and visor are incorporated into the suit, and hang back like a hood when not in use. When the helmet’s needed, the wearer pulls it down over his or her face and simply zips it up.

The suit comes with twist-on, twist-off gloves, with fingertips that are touchscreen-sensitive so that astronauts can operate the Starliner’s streamlined displays. The integrated shoes look like cross-trainers, and come in a stylish color scheme that fades from deep blue to white.

Boeing and NASA will continue putting the adjustable blue suits to the test over the months of training to come. The current schedule calls for the first Starliner test flight to the space station to take place during the summer of 2018.

Straliner spacesuit
Boeing’s Chris Ferguson stands tall in the Starliner suit. (Boeing Photo)
Quelle: GeekWire
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