Recently reporters were allowed to take pictures of Crew Dragon and the SpaceX flight suit. Among them is this picture:

SpaceX flight seat

I was under the impression that:

  1. Chairs needed to be custom molded / adjusted for the astronauts. There's stories of people sitting down in bathtubs of foam to create the perfect shape. This doesn't look highly adjustible, it looks like a racecar seat.

  2. The seats need to support the entire body for the acceleration during launch and landing. This seat looks like the upper body and head are supported but it doesn't look like the legs are supported. Wouldn't this be extremely uncomfortable for the astronauts and endanger their legs at high accelerations?

Was I incorrect?

  • 1
    It's worth noting that the pictures in the article come from 2 capsules - one is "SpaceX’s Crew Dragon simulator, a near-exact replica of the spacecraft built for astronaut training", and the other is "A less exact model of Crew Dragon meant for display purposes" - the picture you've included is from the display model. – Zac Faragher Aug 15 at 2:34
  • Its worth noting that professional race car seats are custom fit. F1 seats have a similar profile to this. – Gusdor Aug 15 at 9:44
up vote 33 down vote accepted

1.) Chairs needed to be custom molded / adjusted for the astronauts. There's stories of people sitting down in bathtubs of foam to create the perfect shape.

That is an extra comfort of the Soyuz spacecraft. In NASA spacecraft, the seats were "one size fits all." One of the reasons is that the 'failsafe' modes of Soyuz - launchpad abort, ballistic reentry - expose the astronauts to g-forces much higher than common in American made spacecraft; they still frequently result in injuries, but these are minimized thanks to the personally tailored seats. Although...

2.) The seats need to support the entire body for the acceleration during launch and landing. This seat looks like the upper body and head are supported but it doesn't look like the legs are supported.

Nor does it have seatbelts, which you'd think mandatory, and that hard black plastic would play a nasty number on the spine and other areas. And there's so much wiggle room for the head it would most likely result in spine injury in neck area.

But there are slots. It appears like these aren't full seats, they are just frames without lining - just structural support for actual seats, which may be personally molded - and would probably incorporate leg backing plates.

  • Soyuz seats don't support the legs either - but they tuck the feet in much closer to the body – JCRM Aug 14 at 8:40
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    This was my first thought too - just frames that will have liners fitted – Jack Aug 14 at 8:49
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    Worth noting that other pics show both seatbelts/straps and a head cushion/restraint, further confirming that this is probably just a frame. – James Thorpe Aug 14 at 10:26
  • @JamesThorpe - those pics also show the foot rest has what appears to be mounting points for the boots of the suits to click into. Not sure you'd even need a back-plate for the legs? – mccdyl001 Aug 14 at 11:56
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    @MartinBonner: If you enter a spin, you really wish for a seatbelt, especially if you need to reach for controls to stabilize the craft. And if you're in microgravity, you don't need heavyweight seatbelts but you definitely wish for some means of not floating out of the seat. – SF. Aug 14 at 12:24

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