In the 40 years that humans have been traveling into space, the
suits they wear have changed very little. The bulky, gas-pressurized
outfits give astronauts a bubble of protection, but their significant
mass and the pressure itself severely limit mobility.
Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, wants to change that.
is working on a sleek, advanced suit designed to allow superior
mobility when humans eventually reach Mars or return to the moon. Her
spandex and nylon BioSuit is not your grandfather's spacesuit--think
more Spiderman, less John Glenn.
Traditional bulky spacesuits
"do not afford the mobility and locomotion capability that astronauts
need for partial gravity exploration missions. We really must design
for greater mobility and enhanced human and robotic capability," Newman
Newman, her colleague Jeff Hoffman, her students and a
local design firm, Trotti and Associates, have been working on the
project for about seven years. Their prototypes are not yet ready for
space travel, but demonstrate what they're trying to achieve--a
lightweight, skintight suit that will allow astronauts to become truly
mobile lunar and Mars explorers.
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