NASA's next-generation spacesuit for astronauts could help ace spacewalks in Low Earth orbit

Collins Aerospace is developing a next-generation spacesuit for NASA that will enhance spacewalking capabilities for maintenance and upgrades at the International Space Station.
Kavita Verma
Collins Aerospace's next-generation suit was designed for astronauts, by astronauts.
Collins Aerospace's next-generation suit was designed for astronauts, by astronauts.

Collins Aerospace 

Collins Aerospace, ILC Dover, and Oceaneering have teamed up with NASA to develop an advanced spacesuit that will enhance astronauts' spacewalking capabilities in low Earth orbit and at the ISS.

The new spacesuit will offer a broader range of motion and fit astronauts of diverse sizes. Additionally, it will feature new technology that is more efficient, durable and requires less maintenance than the current spacesuit design used by NASA astronauts on the ISS. This collaboration aims to facilitate astronauts' critical spacewalks with ease and efficiency.

Under NASA's Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services (xEVAS) contract solicitation, chosen vendors are allowed to compete for task orders for missions. These task orders will not only include the current project but also a comprehensive range of services for NASA's spacewalking needs until 2034.

New spacesuit addresses obsolescence issues with current EMU design

According to Lara Kearney, the manager of NASA's Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility program, the current design of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit has been extremely reliable for the Shuttle and Space Station Programs. However, NASA requires a new spacesuit for use on the ISS due to the current obsolescence issues with the EMU. Additionally, the new spacesuit will incorporate the latest technologies that were not available 50 years ago.

Equipped with an advanced life support system

NASA is developing a new spacesuit that will feature advanced life support components, including oxygen supply, carbon dioxide scrubbing, electrical power, heat dissipation, and ventilation. The suit will also have a liquid cooling and ventilation garment that can be worn underneath to regulate body temperature during spacewalks.

Compared to the current EMU design, the new spacesuit will be easier to maintain, with fewer parts and user-friendly features that will reduce astronaut training hours and maintenance procedures. It will also be adjustable to provide a better fit for astronauts and can be altered during flight.

The new suit will be an important step forward in spacewalking capabilities for low Earth orbit and the International Space Station, supporting continued station maintenance and operations. It will incorporate more efficient and durable technology that requires less maintenance than the current EMU design, which has become outdated.

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