NASA has announced that it has started testing spacesuits being developed for the Orion in a reduced gravity environment. The agency has modified its iconic “pumpkin suit” to make sure that it can withstand the requirements of future missions aboard the Orion spacecraft, so it now needs to put it through all sorts of different tests to make sure that the suit will keep astronauts safe. These tests are most certainly just the start in this long process.
The agency is testing the spacesuit aboard its C9 aircraft which is capable of flying in a series of parabolas to simulate a weightless experience for brief periods of time.
It has even built a mockup of the Orion’s cabin in the C9 to get a better understanding of how astronauts will get to their seats during different operational scenarios and how they will perform tasks at varying suit pressures. This even gives NASA the opportunity to further test seat hardware.
The suit is called Modified Advanced Crew Escape Suit and it’s an upgraded version of the launch and entry suits that are worn by space shuttle astronauts. NASA will ensure that astronauts aboard the Orion get all of the functions necessary to support life and sustain them during spacewalks and even in the unlikely event the spacecraft loses pressure.
The Orion spacecraft is meant for deep space missions, there’s still a long way to go until the Orion’s first manned mission in 2023.