Collins Aerospace, a private company hired to create spacesuits for use outside the International Space Station (ISS), has tested its suit aboard a commercial microgravity flight, passing a milestone that lets engineers move forward toward critical design review.
NASA outsourced the design of new spacesuits in 2022 after spending 15 years trying to develop new suits on its own. Collins Aerospace said the suit is lighter and has less volume than the “enhanced” Extravehicular Mobility Units that current NASA astronauts use. It can be modified when missions change and fit a much wider range of body types far more easily than the older suits that are based on designs that are decades old.
During the test, the plane executed “roller-coaster-like maneuvers” to induce weightlessness and allow someone wearing a prototype to see if it actually lets someone move around in it under those conditions. As seen in the video below, they tried things like navigating through doors in zero-G.
Collins Aerospace’s next test will put the suit in a vacuum chamber to see how it performs in the vacuum of space, while a test under 40 feet of water at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Texas will simulate microgravity for spacewalk training.