SpaceX’s Latest EVA Suit: Designed for Moon and Mars Missions

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Key Takeaways

  • The new EVA suit from SpaceX is tailored to meet the harsh demands of space, improving astronauts' safety and agility during spacewalks.
  • This mission will host the first commercial astronaut spacewalk, a groundbreaking event in the realm of private space travel.
  • The development of the EVA suit is a key element in SpaceX's long-term plans to enable human habitation on the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX has just announced its latest astronaut gear: the new Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit. It will feature in the upcoming Polaris Dawn mission.

This innovative suit is a major upgrade from the traditional Intravehicular Activity (IVA) suits currently used inside the Dragon spacecraft.

Designed to endure the extreme conditions of outer space, the EVA suit is a key component in the quest to colonize the Moon and Mars. This advanced technology enhances astronauts’ safety and mobility during spacewalks and is crucial in the journey toward making human life multiplanetary.

Features of the New SpaceX EVA Suit

SpaceX’s latest advancement in astronaut gear is the EVA suit. Unlike the IVA suits, which are meant for inside the spacecraft, the EVA suit is designed to handle the tough conditions of outer space during spacewalks.

  • Materials and Joints: The suit uses new materials and specially engineered joint designs to improve mobility. This flexibility is crucial, allowing astronauts to perform complex tasks during spacewalks more easily than with older suit designs.
  • 3D-Printed Helmet: The helmet, made using 3D printing technology, has a polycarbonate visor that is externally coated with copper and indium tin oxide (ITO) and includes an anti-fog treatment on the inside. This design ensures critical thermal insulation and also works like sunglasses during the spacewalk, protecting the astronaut’s eyes from harsh sunlight.
  • Heads-Up Display (HUD): The helmet includes a HUD that shows important information like suit pressure, temperature, and humidity right in front of the astronaut’s eyes.
  • Camera Integration: A built-in camera in the helmet provides visual feedback and helps improve communication with mission control, enhancing both safety and the management of tasks.
  • Enhanced Seals and Pressure Valves: The suit’s seals and pressure valves have been upgraded to ensure it remains fully pressurized and airtight, protecting astronauts from the dangers of space vacuum.
  • SpaceX Suit vs. ISS EMU: The new SpaceX suit lacks a backpack, making it much smaller than the suits used for spacewalks at the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS’s Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) backpack carries essential life support systems like power, air, and cooling, allowing astronauts to move more freely during spacewalks. In contrast, the SpaceX suit connects to an umbilical that supplies these systems inside the spacecraft, offering a different approach to astronaut mobility and safety.

Polaris Program and Its First Mission

Polaris Dawn marks the debut of the SpaceX EVA suit in low-Earth orbit. Led by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman in collaboration with SpaceX, the Polaris Program aims to greatly advance human spaceflight capabilities and contribute to humanitarian efforts on Earth. It is set to initiate groundbreaking missions and technological innovations.

  • Launch Timeline and Duration: Scheduled for summer 2024, Polaris Dawn is planned as a five-day mission in which the crew will orbit Earth and carry out various scientific and exploratory activities.
  • Crew Objectives: A key goal for the Polaris Dawn crew is to perform the first-ever commercial astronaut spacewalk, or EVA. This is a notable achievement as it will be the first spacewalk conducted by astronauts not associated with a national space agency.
  • Historic Significance: This mission is historic not only due to its commercial nature but also because it features the first spacewalk from the Dragon spacecraft. It will also be the first time four astronauts are simultaneously exposed to the vacuum of space. This mission highlights the increasing involvement of private companies in space exploration and the enhanced capabilities of human space missions.

While Polaris Dawn will showcase the capabilities of the new SpaceX EVA suit in low-Earth orbit, the ultimate aim of such technological advancements is far more ambitious. SpaceX’s overarching goal is to make life multi-planetary. This vision involves building bases on the Moon and a city on Mars, necessitating the development of scalable technologies, including spacesuits capable of supporting millions of humans in these environments.