Since the beginning of the space race, the suits that astronauts zip and click themselves into have remained relatively unchanged. They’re big, bulky, and heavy. Just this week, however, Boeing announced a brand new spacesuit that their crew will be wearing when the CST-100 spacecraft lifts off in 2018. Welcome in the lighter, more versatile Boeing Starliner Spacesuit.
Weighing a mere twelve pounds, these new suits are 40% lighter than their older orange counterparts, but they offer much more in terms of mobility and functionality. Due to the lighter load and breathable layered fabric that makes up the suit, astronauts wearing these Boeing Blue suits don’t require an external cooling system. Once they zip up the helmet (they’ve done away with the old-school ring lock model), they’ll also have more visibility while in the cockpit. Since the Starliner, which is due to dock with the International Space Station just next year, will featuring touch-screen panels, the more easy to attach gloves will also boast touch-screen compatibility. Unfortunately, these aren’t built to go anywhere outside of the cockpit of the ship. Built as a precautionary against sudden cabin depressurization they’re intended solely for in-flight use. That being said, this updated space travel essential remains a stunning improvement and an exciting product of a space program that’s getting hot once more.