In a rare sneak preview, Boeing revealed its brand new Starliner spacesuit to be worn by astronauts on board the company’s commercial spacecraft Starliner.
The spacesuit replica was unveiled to the public on Wednesday at NASA’s latest exhibit, Gateway: The Deep Space Complex, which is hosted at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. The new exhibit explores the latest innovations in spaceflight for NASA and its commercial partners. The replica suit stands proudly in its display case, showing off Boeing’s signature blue color and providing visitors a first look at the cosmic threads.
The replica outfit, an ascent and entry suit, was crafted by Adam Savage, host of the TV show Mythbusters, who reconstructs various spacesuits on Tested.com. The original design, however, is by Delaware-based manufacturer ILC Dover. “I would say it is a pretty accurate representation,” Joey Sung, senior design engineer for ILC, told CollectSPACE. “I think from that replica you can get a good idea of what our suit looks like.”
The company was also selected as part of the Collins Aerospace-led team designing NASA’s new-generation spacesuits to be worn by astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS), as well as the space agency’s Artemis missions to the Moon.
Earlier this month, ILC Dover announced that it had been selected as one of two providers for Boeing’s commercial crew program, designing a spacesuit for the CST-100 Starliner crew. Boeing’s Starliner recently survived its first uncrewed end-to-end test of the spacecraft when it touched down on May 25 in New Mexico. But there were several hiccups, adding to two previous failed test attempts, one in 2019 and one last year, which has delayed Boeing’s delivery of a usable spacecraft for its $4.3 billion contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Boeing’s upcoming test flight will—fingers crossed—have a crew on board, but the astronauts will be wearing a suit designed by the David Clark company, according to CollectSPACE. However, the newly unveiled blue spacesuit is meant to be worn by astronauts no sooner than 2023, when it will replace the current Boeing spacesuit. Hopefully, Starliner will be human-rated by that time, allowing the company to transport astronauts to and from the ISS.
NASA officials are optimistic about Starliner’s chances of flying astronauts later this year and it’s sticking with its commercial partner. Still, the agency is hedging its bets, having recently purchased five additional missions from SpaceX, its other commercial partner, shortly after Boeing’s finicky test flight.
More: Spacesuits, ranked.