As we approach future moon missions, more innovation is happening the the spacesuit realm than ever before, both in technology and aesthetics.
The era of Pumpkin Suits, appears to be over. (On screen - Advanced Crew Escape Suit)
On the leading edge of wearable astronaut tech, is the SpaceX xEMU or ZeeMoo. (pronounced ZEE-MOO) - the eXploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit.
Richard Rhodes, a spacesuit engineer at NASA working on the xEMU stated, “Our main goal is that the crew doesn’t even think about us. They put the suit on, and they do their work—the science, the exploration—and do not even think twice about how mobile they are or how effectively they can work. That’s a tall order, but we’re trying to get as close to that as possible. We want to be invisible.”
Some of the biggest innovations are with mobility.
Bearings, similar to the ones used in the old Apollo suits will be utilized in the shoulders, waist, hips, thighs, and ankles to allow more movement in the lower body as well as limit the risk of injury to the upper. This alone has improved the walking experience, giving astronauts much more flexibility for science and research.
Designers of the suits also paid special attention to seams and gaps where dust can infiltrate. As we learned from Apollo, lunar dust is terrible, especially with design features such as zippers or wrist disconnects.
“We’re looking at more of a whole garment that goes over the entire assembly, with small features where you can still perform operational checks and disconnect things during a contingency,” says Rhodes. “It’s like a whole shirt and whole pants that’s all one piece, without breaks where dust can get inside.”
With thousands of advancements in literally every stitch, one feature could provide a unique dataset from extravehicular activities. Inside the helmet, along with a heads up display, HD cameras will record what astronauts see. Giving everyone on Earth the chance to experience the high frontier.
That would make a great channel 😉
As NASA continues to improve the xEMU, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are also engineering their own style for flight operations - more on that in future reports.
From the Saturn 5 to Teslas, touchscreens and HD video from the Moon - this is 21st century space.
Will you be a ZeeMoo for halloween? Let us know in the comments below!