Someone at Boeing has been on a serious Kubrick kick, as evidenced by the new spacesuits for its NASA Starliner astronauts. The blue suits, which were revealed today, combine a retro flare with a modern feel.
In fact, the suits look just like a smoothed out version of the blue spacesuit in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Here’s still from the movie:
And here’s former astronaut Chris Ferguson showing off the new Starliner spacesuit:
Pretty close! The major difference is that the 2001 suits had bigger helmets with sloping visors, while the new Starliner suits feature the badass domed glass visor that’s reminiscent of the Apollo era. But it’s not just about looks.
“The most important part is that the suit will keep you alive,” astronaut Eric Boe said in a press release. “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.”
While there’s no telling how the suits would hold up against a maniacal robot, they’re more than equipped to handle the conditions of the Starliner, which will bring astronauts to the International Space Station in 2018. New features include an upgraded helmet, which is incorporated into the spacesuit, touchscreen-sensitive gloves, and built-in ventilation.
Image credit: NASA / Boeing
Boeing was fastidious about the suit’s details. Astronauts were instructed to do some sort of jazzercise ritual in and out of a Starliner mockup to test comfort and flexibility. Alas, it worked.
“The spacesuit acts as the emergency backup to the spacecraft’s redundant life support systems,” Richard Watson, subsystem manager for spacesuits for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program said. “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.”
Image credit: NASA/Cory Huston
The new suits won’t negate the need for their bulkier older siblings — the launch-and-entry suits — but at least they look cool. Just watch astronauts strut in their new suits to the stylings of Boeing’s space age EDM: