MSI Chicago displaying Boeing's Starliner spacesuit
July 22, 2019 - United States Of America
Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), Chicago, is presenting Boeing's new Starliner spacesuit as part of its Wired to Wear exhibit, the first-ever exhibit dedicated to the future of wearable technology. The groundbreaking new material Boeing and University of North Dakota are working on to lengthen astronauts' time on the lunar surface is also at display.
These items will be on display through July 31 in exhibit's Latest Lab, which is dedicated to showcasing the newest wearable prototypes across industries. Wired to Wear will be at MSI through May 2020.
"Wired to Wear is a celebration of cutting-edge technologies that will revolutionise how we live. As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission's Moon landing and prepares to return to the lunar surface, we are thrilled to add something as iconic as a next-generation spacesuit to the exhibit," said Kathleen McCarthy, MSI's head curator and director of Collections. "We are so grateful to Boeing, a longtime Museum partner, for their help as we showcase how our clothing will make us smarter, faster and stronger in the near future."
The Starliner spacesuit, which will be tested in flight later this year, borrows from historic designs but leverages advanced materials and new joint patterns to allow for lighter weight, enhanced flexibility and greater temperature control for astronauts. Its components include touchscreen-sensitive gloves and integrated shoes, similar to cross-trainers, strategically located zippers that shifts the suit's shape based on whether the wearer is sitting or standing, a soft helmet and visor incorporated into the suit rather than the previous bulky, and detachable iterations.
The suit will be the official suit for Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which provides all elements needed to transport crew and cargo to and from low-Earth orbit destinations, including crew training and mission planning, spacecraft and launch vehicle assembly, integration and testing, and crew and cargo recovery.
Boeing is working toward two Starliner flights in 2019, the first without a crew and the second with Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke, on board.
Wired to Wear's Latest Lab will also feature samples of groundbreaking new material by Boeing engineer Dr. Kavya K Manyapu, acclaimed space scientist and member of the UN Space Generation Advisory Council. The material, which is being tested aboard the International Space Station, weaves carbon nanotubes and other conductive materials into spacesuit fabric to combat lunar dust, which is sharp enough to tear through space suits and poses a serious risk to astronaut health due its chemical makeup. Manyapu's material runs an electric current through the nanotubes that pushes the dust off of the suit, helping protect astronaut health, mitigate dust contamination and allowing less wear-and-tear on planetary spacesuits. (SV)