NASA has big plans to lasso an asteroid and then land an astronaut on to it. As a result it is working on a spacesuit that would be suitable for such a mission.
Near to the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, engineeers are testing a modified version of the pumpkin-orange Advanced Crew Escape System (ACES) worn by space shuttle astronauts, for the future use by the crew of the Orion spacecraft.
Space is quite tight inside the Orion and so the white Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuits, which are normally worn during spacewalks on the International Space Station, are just too bulky to carry on the spacecraft. NASA are working on a way of altering the ACES suits so that they can be used both inside and outside the spacecraft during deep space missions and also for the voyage to a relocated asteroid.
The shell of them is very much the same, and to the casual user you may not even notice the difference, but internally we modified them to work with the plumbing inside Orion,” said Dustin Gohmert, Crew Survival Systems Manager at Johnson.
As well as redesigned suits, NASA is also looking at other ideas and techniques in a bid to refine the mission design for the asteroid initiative.
The planned mission to the asteroid, combines human exploration, space technology and science work in order to locate and redirect an asteroid to a stable orbit near the moon so that astronauts can explore and gather information.