The U.S. military is building a new space suit to replace the one worn by astronauts, officials said Thursday, after months of speculation about a possible return to space.
In a statement, the Air Force said the new space helmet would be the latest in a long line of spacesuit advancements, which have seen the U.A.E. move into the commercial market.
The new helmet will include an infrared sensor and a thermal imaging system, and will also include a solar array for more efficient cooling, according to a statement from the Air Combat Command.
The helmet is scheduled to be in service by the end of 2020, Air Force spokesman Col. Mark Gilliland said.
“The suit will include the latest advancements in space helmet technology and will provide for enhanced protection for space-based assets,” he said.
The helmet, which will also come with a solar panel, is designed to withstand harsh environments and heat, Gilliland added.
The U.K. Space Agency also bought the helmet from the U,S.
Air Force, and has said it will deliver it to space agencies in 2018.