With the first manned launch of Crew Dragon successfully behind them and the astronauts set to go back to Earth this weekend, SpaceX has much to be proud of these days. Throughout the mission, their high-tech space suits were a major part of what made the company’s approach to human spaceflight so special. Now a video has been released which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the laboratory where the suit was designed, including insight from team members about its development.
“The suit is really kind of one part of the bigger Dragon system – it’s really part of the vehicle,” Chris Trigg, Space Suits and Crew Equipment Manager, explained in the video. “We think of it kind of [as] a suit-seat system, so the seat that the crew is in and then the suit are in a lot of ways working together.”
Due to the interconnectedness of the Dragon system, the Crew Dragon space suit, also donned by Starman during SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch demonstration, is both designed and produced in the same lab. The facility is located in Hawthorne, California, in the same building where SpaceX’s rockets and capsules are constructed. CEO Elon Musk has applied an “open plan” to his company’s organization since it began to help maximize team communications, and this seems to make the suit lab-rocket facility proximity yet another part of this more significant picture approach.
SpaceX applied its suit styling with a modern-minimalist angle but that same minimalism also applies to the functionality of the suit. “When the crew get in the capsule, they get in their seats and they plug the suit into the umbilical that’s attached to the seat,” Trigg detailed. “The umbilical is providing everything that the suit needs. So it provides the avionics or the electronics for communications, is providing the air to cool the suit, and it also provides the gas when needed to pressurize the suit.”
Comfort and capability for astronauts is critical. “The spacesuit is custom made for each crew member and that is to optimize the fit for the crew member,” explained Maria Sundeen, Lead Space Suit Specialist. The helmets are comprised of several 3D-printed components, and the gloves are touch capacitive to enable the astronauts to use the touch screens inside SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.
Due to its technical advancements and revamped appearance, the Crew Dragon space suit has gained a decent amount of publicity since its launch in 2018, and now that the concept has been flight proven, it will be fascinating to see what changes can be made. Currently, orbiting astronauts Col. Bob Behnken and Col. Doug Hurley along with other astronauts from the Commercial Crew have been involved in the development of their suits since the initial stages of their design. This being said, the feedback will be extremely helpful and will help drive the developments of the Dragon system even further.
You can watch the full video here:
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