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Space & Astronomy

New 'second skin' spacesuit developed

By T.K. Randall
September 21, 2014 · Comment icon 12 comments

A concept design image of the new spacesuit. Image Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT
A skintight lightweight spacesuit designed at MIT could one day be used by astronauts going to Mars.
Today's spacesuits are large, bulky pieces of equipment that appear in stark contrast to those worn by astronauts in science fiction movies or in artwork depicting the future of space travel.

This might soon be set to change however thanks to a brand new spacesuit design that has been developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Unlike conventional spacesuits, this new design is extraordinarly slimline to the point where it has been described as a "second skin" for astronauts.
"With conventional spacesuits, you're essentially in a balloon of gas that's providing you with the necessary one-third of an atmosphere to keep you alive in the vacuum of space," said Prof Dava Newman. "We want to achieve that same pressurization, but through mechanical counterpressure - applying the pressure directly to the skin, thus avoiding the gas pressure altogether."

The new spacesuit is comprised of a combination of passive elastics and other active materials that make it skintight, lightweight and which enable a much greater freedom of movement.

Consisting of springlike coils made from a shape-memory alloy that constricts in response to heat, the suit can be expanded to allow an astronaut to put it on and then constricted to make it airtight.

Source: MIT | Comments (12)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 10 years ago
MIT have been working on this spacesuit for a long time. Here is a post I made about it back in 2007: Sleek, Skintight Spacesuit Designed
Comment icon #4 Posted by OverSword 10 years ago
Maybe it will look like the suits worn by SHADO in the series UFO
Comment icon #5 Posted by ROGER 10 years ago
I expect the Z-2 suit will be in service long before this model is created and used . http://www.nasa.gov/...u/#.VB8RjONdXKg And http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/z2_final_0.png
Comment icon #6 Posted by Cameronesi 10 years ago
I liked the space suit of the Prometheus space Jockey
Comment icon #7 Posted by Wickian 10 years ago
I'm curious if a streamlined suit that like can provide proper protection from radiation.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Peter B 10 years ago
I'm curious if a streamlined suit that like can provide proper protection from radiation. Probably not in that form. It looks like they're only looking at the moment in how to provide pressure to protect the body against the vacuum of space. But on top of that they're also going to have to look at how to deal with getting rid of body heat. The Mercury and Gemini astronauts had air-cooled suits, and they got into trouble when they over-exerted. The Apollo spacesuits were water-cooled, meaning one of the layers in the spacesuit was a garment containing hundreds of little tubes through which wate... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by paperdyer 10 years ago
From the article link "While skintight spacesuits have been proposed in the past, there’s been one persistent design hurdle: how to squeeze in and out of a pressurized suit that’s engineered to be extremely tight. That’s where shape-memory alloys may provide a solution. Such materials only contract when heated, and can easily be stretched back to a looser shape when cool." Since outer space is cold for the most part, it sounds like some type of heating system is needed to allow the new spacesuit to keep its tight fit. I guess that can be built into the pack that has the oxygen in it. I d... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by third_eye 10 years ago
I think we'll be seeing more of these 'space' suits in the metropolis than out there in space ~ with a bluetooth accessory and you will light up every time you get a mobile call ~ or you can just play music and have it light up like a full vis effect suit ... now imagine a street full of such fashion adherents ~ ~
Comment icon #11 Posted by TonopahRick 10 years ago
No spacesuit protects against radiation just pressure, heat, cold, etc.
Comment icon #12 Posted by regeneratia 10 years ago
Looks like something out of "Defying Gravity", the TV show.


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