In this handout illustration image courtesy of Collins Aerospace shows a person wearing the new Collins Aerospace astronaut suite. - NASA on Wednesday announced it has awarded contracts to two companies to develop the next generation of spacesuits for missions to the International Space Station and the Moon. (Photo by Collins Aerospace / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / COLLINS AEROSPACE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo by -/Collins Aerospace/AFP via Getty Images)
NASA’s Next-Gen Spacesuit Aces Zero Gravity Test: Closer to Spacewalk Reality
NASA’s next-generation spacesuit just passed a key floating test, bringing it one step closer to reality. Designed collaboratively “by astronauts for astronauts,” the advanced suit could soon keep spacewalkers safe as they work outside the International Space Station.
Crafted by aerospace companies Collins Aerospace, ILC Dover, and Oceaneering, the slick new suit recently went airborne for zero gravity assessments. Former NASA astronauts put it through its paces, demonstrating mobility and tool handling compared to current bulky suits.
As astronauts spun weightlessly within the special jet, engineers monitored key objectives like range of motion, fit, and integration with existing space station gear.
“The successful test signals we’re one step closer to sustaining human life in space with the most advanced suit yet,” said Rob Reed of ILC Dover.
Vice president Dave McClure from Collins Aerospace echoed the milestone moment. “Our next-gen suit was built by astronauts for astronauts, continuing Collins’ legacy as a trusted NASA partner for human spaceflight,” he said.
The team leveraged ILC’s decades of spacesuit expertise to allow an adjustable fit for more body types than before. This ensures both safety and flexibility for future space travelers.
Weighing less and with a trimmer profile than today’s suits, the next-generation design sports an open architecture for easy upgrades. As missions and technologies evolve, astronauts can modify key components instead of starting fresh.
Before finalizing the blueprint, Collins and partners will put their creation through more rigorous vacuum and underwater testing. But if all goes well, the suit could soon venture outside the space station on actual spacewalks.
“Advanced spacesuit technology will be used on the ISS,” said McClure, “and we’re prepared to keep astronauts safe no matter the mission.”