NASA unveiled a new design of spacesuits for the Constellation program today. Astronauts will be donning the new suits on the first flights of the Orion spaceship, scheduled for 2015, on trips to the International Space Station, with additional EVA suits ready for the first missions to the moon, scheduled for 2020. The spacesuits feature rear entry, enhanced shoulder mobility and modular, interchangeable parts. The spacesuits will be designed and produced by Oceaneering International Inc. of Houston, Texas, which received a contract worth $183.8 million for 2008-2014.
NASA required two spacesuit system configurations for the Constellation program. The first type of spacesuit (Configuration One) will be used for launch and landing operations, as well as inside the spacecraft during an emergency like loss of pressurization of the Orion crew compartment.
Configuration Two will build upon Configuration One and will support lunar surface operations. While preparing to walk on the moon, the astronauts will be able to build their own personal Configuration Two spacesuits by replacing elements of Configuration One with elements specialized for surface operations.
Suits and support systems will be needed for as many as four astronauts on moon voyages and as many as six space station travelers. For short trips to the moon, the suit design will support a week’s worth of moon walks. The system also must be designed to support a significant number of moon walks during potential six-month lunar outpost expeditions. In addition, the spacesuit and support systems will provide contingency spacewalk capability and protection against the launch and landing environment, such as spacecraft cabin leaks.
Video of the new Constellation spacesuits.
Video of spacesuit tests.