Astronauts could get a better range of motion in future spacesuits

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The spacesuit of the future is currently developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and funded in part by NASA. Their idea is to have a pressurized but skin-tight suit made from passive elastics with active materials. The goal is to achieve the same pressurization as a conventional spacesuit nowadays offers. Dava Newman, a professor at MIT involved in the research, detailed in a statement: “With conventional spacesuits, you’re essentially in a balloon of gas that’s providing you with the necessary one-third of an atmosphere [of pressure] to keep you alive in the vacuum of space.. We want to achieve that same pressurization, but through mechanical counter-pressure — applying the pressure directly to the skin, thus avoiding the gas pressure altogether”.

There still is a long way to go until this solution would be viable. The space suit of the future will use coils which will be responsible for providing the pressure needed for astronauts to safely work in space. The idea is to have self-closing buckles by using the coils. These should move into a certain shape depending on the detected temperature. The current unsolved topic is now how to keep the coils at a certain temperature so that they stay connected. There are currently two considered options: either to run a constant current through the suit or just to find a way to lock the coils in place once they create the right pressure. The first option presents some problems and for the second considered option scientists still need to figure out how this could be accomplished.

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