Inside SpaceX's Space Suit Lab | Making Innovative, Inspiring, Safe And Reliable Product


One of the things that was important in the development of the suit was to make it easy to use. Something that the crew just has to literally plug in when they sit down and then the suit kind of takes care of itself.

From there the suit is really kind of one part of the bigger Dragon system. It's really part of the vehicle. We think of it as kind of a suit seat system, so the seat that the crew is in the suit are in a lot of ways working together. So it made sense that we were designing Dragon in-house to also design the suit.

Our spacesuits is completely designed in-house. It's built here in Hawthorne, California, in the same building as the rocket and the capsule. The spacesuit is custom made for each crew member and that is to optimize the fit for the crew member.

We definitely wanted to innovate and we wanted it to look inspiring. But first and foremost we wanted it to be safe and reliable. The spacesuits primary purpose is to protect the crew in the unlikely event that the cabin were to depressurize. 

But the suit does a number of additional things that provides cooling and communication to the crew inside of the suit, provides them hearing protection. And the outer layer of the suit is flame resistant so it provides flame protection as well.

When the crew gets in the capsule they get in their seats and they plug the suit into the umbilical that's attached to the seats. And the umbilical is providing everything that the suit needs. It provides the avionics or electronics for communications. It is providing the air to cool the suit and then it also provides gas when needed to pressurize the suit. It's really a single point that lets the suit do all the things that it needs to do.

We designed the helmet in-house. The helmet serves a number of different functions. Obviously it's protecting the crew's head and it's retaining gas like the rest of the suit. But it also houses the microphones as well as the valves that are regulating pressure in the suit.

We had to design the gloves so that they would work with the touchscreen so that the crew could use the touchscreen while they were in their suit. But the gloves also had to do a number of other things like the rest of the suit. And then of course they have to be able to work under pressure.

I think one of the things that's cool about the suit is it's not just a piece of hardware, it's not just a suit. It's a very personal thing to work on for everyone on the team who's been building these. So it's a really amazing thing.

Source: Chris Trigg (Space Suits and Crew Equipment Manager), Mary Sundeen (Lead Space Suit Specialist) - SpaceX

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