Friday, July 20, 2007

Skintight Suits For The Earthbound And Spacebound.

The spacesuits worn by astronauts in open space aren't suitable for use on Mars and other planets. A team at MIT is working on a different kind of spacesuit, a skintight suit that uses mechanical counter-pressure to protect astronauts. (Here.) Besides being less bulky, lighter, and safer than current gas-pressurized spacesuits, mechanical counter-pressure suits have another advantage.
"The suits could also help astronauts stay fit during the six-month journey to Mars. Studies have shown that astronauts lose up to 40 percent of their muscle strength in space, but the new outfits could be designed to offer varying resistance levels, allowing the astronauts to exercise against the suits during a long flight to Mars.

Although getting the suits into space is the ultimate goal, [Professor Dava] Newman is also focusing on Earth-bound applications in the short term, such as athletic training or helping people walk."
Having potential uses on Earth should help with attracting money for development and to answer complaints some might have about spending money on space instead of on problems here on Earth.

-tdr

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