First Commercial Spacesuit Debuts at X Prize Cup

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  Space News Business

First Commercial Spacesuit Debuts at X Prize Cup

By LEONARD DAVID
Space News Correspondent
posted: 09 November 2007
01:40 pm ET





HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.





Future suborbital space travelers will be able to wear a spacesuit that was designed with




style in mind as well as safety.





The world’s first commercial spacesuit was unveiled at the X Prize Cup festivities here




by Orbital Outfitters. The West Hollywood, Calif., company




emphasized its




approach to




engineering, safety and developing some marketing appeal for the




emergency




spacesuit that will be worn by future commercial passengers on suborbital spacecraft.



The Industrial Suborbital Space Suit-Crew (or IS3C for short),




a first-generation prototype, was presented in catwalk-like fashion and dubbed




as the new free-fall collection of apparel.

Jeff Feige, chief executive officer for Orbital Outfitters and




master of ceremonies for the space suit’s debut,




noted that the lines are getting longer for those making reservations to fly aboard the first suborbital spaceliners. “Our mission is to provide low-cost, industrial quality spacesuits and related services to companies providing commercial and government space travel,” he said in a press statement.



The idea is to create a high quality IS3C system for future suborbital flight crews. Orbital Outfitters is implementing a leasing arrangement for the suit to help contain upfront costs for customers.



An array of new technologies has been incorporated in the IS3C suits such as modern fabrics that let moisture




out while still maintaining a pressurized environment.





But customers want more than safety,




they also want to look good, company officials said.




And the helmet also comes complete with easy-to-use visor.

While looking smart in space is one thing, the IS3C is no toy. It is crafted to keep the wearer alive in the event of a cabin de-pressurization during a suborbital jaunt.

The outer layer of the suit has been designed to be customizable to the needs of the companies – that is any select color of a commercial suborbital flight operator.

Orbital Outfitters has its first customer – XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, Calif., an entrepreneurial start-up




developing




rocket-powered vehicles for private consumer space travel.



“We are already designing some very cool spacesuits for our customers that go well beyond even the IS3C in their design elements,” said Chris Gilman, chief designer of the new suit. “After all, we not only have to be able to save a person’s life in an emergency, we have to make him or her look and feel good at the same time,”





That point was underscored by a woman




in the audience who




already has plunked her money down for a suborbital flight:




“Safety is one thing … but it’ll make me look big,” she said.