Writers were fantasising about travelling to the moon long before technology allowed it to happen. While these literary works satisfied people’s dreams back then, the settings and assumptions inside are far from reality. Take The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells as an example. We are now all aware that wearing a spacesuit is a must for any space travel, but the traveller in the novel is not wearing any as oxygen exists on the moon in Wells’ world. Even when spacesuits do appear in early sci-fi like Jules Verne’s Around the Moon or Edison’s Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss, it is similar to a tight diving suit without consideration of pressure.
Back in reality though, spacesuits in most people’s mind have to be bulky. Even what we see in movies these days are only slight variations based on the real-world design. This is why the latest spacesuit from Boeing has brought a breath of fresh air. The aerospace company first previewed its design on Facebook in January, and its slimline silhouette is a step closer to a new era.
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and a long-term partner of NASA. The blue spacesuit is developed for the CST-100 Starliner mission planned in 2018, specially designed for astronauts to travel to and from the International Space Station. It is about 40% lighter than previous suits and the innovative material will keep astronauts cooler. Zippers are now placed in the torso area, making it easier for astronauts to wear the suit and comfortably transition from sitting to standing, but the design’s biggest highlights would have to be the reinvented gloves and helmet. The touchscreen-friendly gloves are clearly essential nowadays, while the helmet is now part of the suit. Its size and weight are hugely reduced and it has a built-in communications headset, connecting astronauts to ground and space crews. The new suit is a triumph of technology and thoughtful design, it nails what a spacesuit should look like and brings a new look to space journeys of the future.