SpaceX Unveils New Spacesuits for Historic Private Astronaut Spacewalk

SpaceX Unveils New Spacesuits for Historic Private Astronaut Spacewalk

SpaceX is preparing to launch a private crew of astronauts on a five day journey through Earth orbit, and they will be the first to try on the company’s latest spacesuit design during a first-of-its-kind spacewalk.

In an update shared on May 4, SpaceX revealed the design of its long-awaited extravehicular activity (EVA) suit. The new spacesuits will be worn by the Polaris Dawn crew during a series of private astronaut missions backed by billionaire Jared Isaacman. The first of the program’s three missions is scheduled to launch no earlier than this summer.

The five-day mission will launch SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft into an elliptical orbit around Earth, from where the private astronauts will collect data and conduct various research and experiments. One of the main highlights of the upcoming mission is the plan to perform the first ever commercial astronaut spacewalk, which will also be the first to occur from the Dragon spacecraft.

Polaris Dawn astronauts showing off the new spacewalking spacesuits.

Reports suggest that SpaceX may have struggled during the design process of the new EVA suits. Polaris Dawn was originally scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2022, but has suffered numerous delays. The delays were likely due in large part to the design of the new spacesuits; sources told SpaceNews in February that SpaceX had significantly underestimated the amount of work needed to convert its pressurized suit design to an EVA suit.

Earlier in January, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a presentation, “We’ve got to redesign the suit so that you actually move around in it. It’s quite hard to still be mobile in an inflated suit.” The company may have finally figured it out.

A view of the astronauts inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

SpaceX’s new spacesuits are an evolutionary design of the company’s astronaut suits currently worn by the Dragon crews with added features to support the extravehicular activities. “Developed with mobility in mind, SpaceX teams incorporated new materials, fabrication processes, and novel joint designs to provide greater flexibility to astronauts in pressurized scenarios while retaining comfort for unpressurized scenarios,” SpaceX wrote.

The EVA suit’s 3D-printed helmet now has a visor to reduce the glare from the Sun while astronauts are outside of the space station, as well as a new Heads-Up Display (HUD) and camera to provide information on the suit’s pressure, temperature, and relative humidity, according to SpaceX. The new suit design also has seals and pressure valves to help ensure it remains pressurized throughout the spacewalk.

The new suits also have a scalable design that can be adjusted to different body types as part of SpaceX’s efforts to increase people’s accessibility to space. SpaceX also built the new suits with the Moon and Mars in mind, hoping to be able to use its new designs as part of the company’s greater vision (and SpaceX CEO’s obsession) of colonizing the Red Planet in the future.

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