Space Access ’11: Orbital Outfitters

Orbital Outfitters
Jeff Feige

Founded in 2006 to serve the NewSpace industry….

No significant improvements in space suits over the past few decades

Existing spacesuits not the right solution for the emerging industry – affordable and reliable

Suit Design Priorities (in that order)

  1. Safety
  2. Performance – enable wearer to perform whatever tasks you’ve laid out for them – differs
  3. Maintain comfort

No such thing as a one-suit-fits-all – need customization to fit different vehicles

Factors Affecting Suit Use:

  1. comfort/mobility, ingress egress issues
  2. additional user temperature controls required
  3. performance under pressure vs. unpressurized
  4. vehicle integration
  5. mass/volume penalties

Business Issues:

  1. cost of purchasing, adapting and maintaining multiple suits
  2. training requirements for all users — “not zip and go like Hollywood implies”
  3. Liability issues with own suits
  4. What happens if a competitor has a problem — does that affect your business

Space shuttle is the textbook example of how not to integrate a spacesuit into a spacecraft environment

  • designed for shirt sleeve environment

Investment Issues

  • Investors who are looking to invest in this area need to be very passionate about space
  • Key question: how much testing to prove that your suit will do what you say it will do
  • How are you going to protect yourself in the event of a crew loss?
  • Orbital Outfitters has development agreements with a number of parties, including XCOR….do not yet have operating agreements…

Everyone really wants to develop an EVA suit…lots to do before you get to that point…

Question: Will operators get discounts on insurance rates since they’re flying with spacesuits on?

Hope so, but there have been no studies on it.

Question: Is the FAA going to require spacesuits on suborbital flights?

FAA is still in a learning phase. Wouldn’t go near to venturing an opinion on what FAA will do in terms of spacesuit use.