Spaceflight Insider

Elon Musk teases SpaceX spacesuit concept

An artist's rendering of a Crew Dragon in orbit. Image Credit: SpaceX

An artist’s rendering of a Crew Dragon in orbit. Image Credit: SpaceX

On Aug. 23, 2017, Elon Musk released a photograph teasing the SpaceX spacesuit design that will be used on crewed flights of the Dragon 2 spacecraft. The post, which was made on both Twitter and Instagram, provided few details on the specifications of the suit beyond indicating the company has a functional design in place.

“First picture of SpaceX spacesuit.” Musk tweeted to his nearly 11.8 million followers on Twitter. “Worth noting that this actually works (not a mockup). Already tested to double vacuum pressure.”

Double vacuum pressure is a reference to a testing procedure in which the suit is placed in a vacuum chamber while the inside of the suit is pressurized to twice its operating pressure. While the specific details of the new SpaceX suit are unknown, most American and Russian spacesuits operate at a pressure between 0.2 and 0.35 atmospheres.

The apparently slim-fitting design trades out the often bulky extravehicular activity and flight suits that are common to the American and Russian space programs in favor of something decidedly more futuristic in appearance. Musk said getting the design just right was not an easy process.

“Was incredibly hard to balance esthetics and function,” Musk said. “Easy to do either separately.”

The SpaceX suit is just one of several next-generation spacesuits currently under development. In January, Boeing released new details on the spacesuit designed for use in its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft under development. NASA is also developing its own suits to support the agency’s goals of venturing into deep space in the coming decades.

However, a NASA Office of Inspector General report in April indicated a new NASA suit is still years away. Among the suits under development is a flight suit designed to support astronauts flying on Orion as well as separate concepts suitable for lunar and deep space exploration.

 

 

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Paul is currently a graduate student in Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Akransas in Fayetteville. He grew up in the Kansas City area and developed an interest in space at a young age at the start of the twin Mars Exploration Rover missions in 2003. He began his studies in aerospace engineering before switching over to geology at Wichita State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 2013. After working as an environmental geologist for a civil engineering firm, he began his graduate studies in 2016 and is actively working towards a PhD that will focus on the surficial processes of Mars. He also participated in a 2-week simluation at The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in 2014 and remains involved in analogue mission studies today. Paul has been interested in science outreach and communication over the years which in the past included maintaining a personal blog on space exploration from high school through his undergraduate career and in recent years he has given talks at schools and other organizations over the topics of geology and space. He is excited to bring his experience as a geologist and scientist to the Spaceflight Insider team writing primarily on space science topics.

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