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The Evolution of Space Suit Design

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the spray-on-pants dept.

Space 304

William_Lee writes "According to space.com, it looks like we may finally be on the verge of seeing a long overdue, radical redesign of space suits that will result in much lighter, more maneuverable, custom fitted suits. Now if we can actually get around to sending someone to Mars..."

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heelloooo? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486869)

_>_>_>

Going to Mars? (-1, Troll)

SunPin (596554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486871)

How about sending someone to space first?

200 miles up doesn't qualify.

Re:Going to Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486889)

How about, y'know, the Moon? That's, what, 385,000 km away?

Re:Going to Mars? (1)

SunPin (596554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486901)

And how long ago was that? The space program has severe atrophy.

Re:Going to Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486939)


How about, y'know, the Moon? That's, what, 385,000 km away?


The sad part is that we couldn't pull that off again today if we tried. We no longer have the will/ability.

Re:Going to Mars? (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487047)

Sure we do. It's only a couple days away; the technical problems for that sort of mission (which aren't too much greater than those for going to LEO) have already been dealt with. Sure, we no longer have any Saturn Vs, but we could build a rocket better and cheaper since we've done it before. Or, we could try to push the envelope (what NASA has been attempting to do for the past couple decades - unfortunately, without too much luck on complete systems, just lots of individual component successes) to try and advance launch tech to get costs seriously lower.

Mars, on the other hand, is months away, which poses far bigger problems. We'll solve them eventually, of course, but it is a significantly bigger deal.

Re:Going to Mars? (0, Flamebait)

MagneticMountain (666496) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487128)

We never even went to the moon it was a hoax. Look around there is a lot of evidence.

Re:Going to Mars? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487160)

Your ideas [enterprisemission.com] are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Do they come with darth vader sounds? (1, Funny)

poographer (853573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486873)

I am not your father's space suit.

Twice in a week! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486876)

To be first.

YOU SUCK (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486965)

It's funny, I just finished my new book, Who Sucks is This Guy Right Here and am about to have it published. It largey deals with how bad you suck, so you might want to pick up a copy if you ever start to wonder if you don't suck.

Of course you probably suck at buying books, but give it a shot, champ.

Slice and dice (2, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486877)

. It is custom fitted to each astronaut using a laser scanning/electrospinlacing process.

Do not look into the sun with your remaining eye.

Re:Slice and dice (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486994)

Was it just me, or did anyone else read this:

"Incorporated into that second skin would be electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers to enhance human strength and stamina." ....and find it a bit far fetched (not as in "technically impossible", but more like "budgetarily infeasible"?). I half expected the article to continue "... controlled by a network of mind-reading sensors, and integrated into the comm system of the nanomachines cleansing their bodies of toxins, while being able to merge with their amorphous bio-base that reshapes itself to their every whim ..."

Seriously, though: just looking at how difficult large-scale human-assisting robotics has been to produce without it underreacting or overreacting, I don't hold out much hope of seing this sort of thing any time soon.

Re:Slice and dice (2, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487129)

As the 'skin' is sprayed on, the fibers could be electrically or magnetically aligned prior to the skin solidifying. Fibers embedded in the skin could be designed to run through them, and a computer could send signals through the skin learning the fiber map. This would then allow the computer to take in signals through the fiber network of stress applied to the skin, and send out signals to those locations as needed, boosting the strength there.

This leaves a lot of questions open (how to handle cross-talk, for instance), but is how I first thought of things. They're talking about this kind of thing being perhaps decades away, and unlikely to appear in the next few years. One day, we'll look back on astronauts in current spacesuits the way we look at warriors in plate armor: bulky and inefficient suits worn by people dedicated and brave enough to train to face the unknown with primitive technology.

Re:Slice and dice (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487187)

> the fibers could be electrically or magnetically aligned

Yes. It's an additional problem (along with several others) that large-scale systems don't have, and we can't even get the large scale systems to work right and still be lightweight, durable, reasonable-cost, etc.

I don't think we should give credence to something like this when we can't even manage very well on a system where you can actually physically place and test your actuators.

Now all we need ... (1)

odaen (766778) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486879)

Is that set of day glow orange moonboots.

Re:Now all we need ... (1)

papercrane (817404) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487161)

And a shiny gold suit

Re:Now all we need ... (2, Funny)

Bob of Dole (453013) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487232)

With cufflinks.

Evolution of Space Suite design.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486883)

Just watch the latest Missy Elliot music video.

We aren't going to send humans to Mars any time (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486888)

soon, but we shouldn't let that get in the way of fashion. I say we should make a rover catwalk.
Yeah baby, shake that spectrometer, OWWW!
I apologize profusely.

Mission To Mars (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486907)

....Now if we can actually get around to sending someone to Mars..."

We will get around to it eventually. Thanks to the strong leadership of President Bush, we have a real plan for space [cnn.com] , as opposed to mostly circling around Earth currently.

I think the President has done a fantastic job in revitalizing our space program and command him for his decisive leadership and strong character.

God Bless America.

Re:Mission To Mars (3, Funny)

drivinghighway61 (812488) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486997)

Yes, with Lord Bush's leadership, we can finally bring Democracy(c) to Mars!

Re:Mission To Mars (2)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487066)

Maybe his plan is to send humans to Mars first, then to anger the Gua'uld to give humanity a common enemy....

Re:Mission To Mars (5, Insightful)

burns210 (572621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487060)

Just because he announced a plan doesn't mean anything. NASA isn't getting the funding(it needs massive increasesm not cutbacks) to actually DO any of the things talked about.

Re:Mission To Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487158)

Did you read the article the OP linked? Apparently not. And I quote the sub-title:

President seeks $1 billion more in NASA funding
Further on:

Bush proposed spending $12 billion over the next five years on the effort. About $1 billion of that will come from an increase in NASA's budget, while the other $11 billion would come from shifting funds from existing programs within NASA's current $86 billion budget.

Re:Mission To Mars (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487221)

Mod parent up.

I believe the word to describe it is pwned.

Re:Mission To Mars (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487367)

burns210 is saying that all he is doing is asking for the money, as your quotes point out ("seeks", "proposed". He/NASA hasn't gotten it yet or done anything written in stone. As far as we know, its something that he plans to sacrifice and then blame it on Congress.

(He has alot in this budget. To me, it seems like he wants to sell the economic future so he can end up looking better in 4 years.)

Ironic? (2, Funny)

notany (528696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487077)

When somebody is talking so high on Bush it seems it's ment to be ironic. But I'm not sure on this one.

Re:Mission To Mars (4, Funny)

PacoTaco (577292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487097)

I think the President has done a fantastic job in revitalizing our space program and command him for his decisive leadership and strong character.

When did George Bush start posting to Slashdot?

Re:Mission To Mars (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487130)

Indeed. All praise our Dear leader. He is Father to us all, and his vision will lead us to a new age.

What kind of person is President Bush? You might say, "He is the boss of the whole world." You could say such a thing. If you call him "boss," or "head" or whatever, his purpose is to bring down all the walls between nations and even those under dictators and to bring them into harmony and make them equal and united in a rightful cause. Then that boss is a good boss and everyone should encourage him, saying, "Please do that in my behalf."

Even a strong person may oppose that boss because he doesn't agree with him, but others would try to stop him because they can see that he is thinking mainly of himself, while the boss is thinking of the whole purpose. Like all four directions--east, west, north and south--when you go around and stop at a certain place, there is always a place. [tparents.org]

Some people accuse me, saying, "President Bush just wants to take the whole world to himself." All right, let those people fight me. Don't you want to take the whole world to yourself? Same concept. Centering on love, same. Everyone else just wants to and thinks about it, but President Bush takes action, bringing everyone into peace and harmony. Who is the winner? Those who just sit and think about it, and then criticize the one who not only thinks about it but stands up and acts, putting everything into it. Who will be the potential winner? No question, the one who does it will be the winner, especially when what he wants to do is the right thing. Then the one who just sits and tries to stop him will be the loser.

Re:Mission To Mars (3, Insightful)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487136)

Thanks to the strong leadership of President Bush, we have a real plan for space, as opposed to mostly circling around Earth currently.

Unfortunately, because it's been announced by President Bush, many people who oppose his other policies (for good reason) will also tend to oppose his space policy, even if they would support it if it were proposed by somebody else.

Re:Mission To Mars (2, Interesting)

PocketPick (798123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487170)

Just pre-election talk. With all the 'crises' our fearless leader keeps talking about, it clear we aren't going anywhere other than perhaps Iran or some other third-world country.

Strong government investment in space flight won't return unless:

-Private space flight becomes much larger
OR
-China continues to significantly expand its plan for space exploration and manages to put several men on the moon themselves in the coming years.

Re:Mission To Mars (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487235)

>Just pre-election talk.

Dude, I don't take recreational drugs but, damn, I want some of what you are smoking.

Re:Mission To Mars (1)

PocketPick (798123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487310)

I was refering the promise by Bush for further space exploration funding.

Re:Mission To Mars (5, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487293)

it clear we aren't going anywhere other than perhaps Iran or some other third-world country

Hmmmm.....

Iran:
(image) [pierphoto.free.fr]

Mars:
(image) [lyle.org]

I sense a conspiracy in the making...

Re:Mission To Mars (3, Interesting)

kitzilla (266382) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487173)

> I think the President has done a fantastic job in revitalizing our space program

Yeah: like cutting Hubble. And racking up record defecits while privately funded firms remind us what the excitement of space exploration used to be all about.

If Bush really wanted to show some leadership, he'd splash ISS, scrap the Shuttle, and set some realistic short-term goals that his administration would actually have to pay for.

NASA *is* doing great work with its robotic programs. But most of those programs were green-lighted when President W was still back in Texas making his bones by polluting his state and signing 152 death warrants.

Feel free to mod me down, Republican bastards. ;-)

NASA is anti-Capitalist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487248)

Its unfair subsidies hurt free market space exploration programs. What ever happened to the Small Government the US was founded on? Adam Smith sheds a tear.

Re:Mission To Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487279)

come on, this post is flaim bait!

Re:Mission To Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487328)

Do you know why Bush eventually wants to go to Mars?
He wants to know what it takes to be a man. (women come from venus,....)

What is he going to do updaire? Wage another war?
No, he his going to look for fuel.
Now, where have I seen this before? Ooh yes, in Afganistan and Iraq.

I don't think god is blessing your country, not as long as presidentscampagnes keeps relying on corporate funds.

The Anonymous Coward

These pictures get worse and worse. (3, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486915)

Re:These pictures get worse and worse. (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486940)

I heard tt can be quite difficult to get that stuff off your hands...

Re:These pictures get worse and worse. (3, Funny)

dakara (798841) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486968)

Someone should tell space.com that encoding the whole article in the url is not the way to do things :-)

Re:These pictures get worse and worse. (4, Funny)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486998)

... [space.com]

shudder [space.com]

Who the heck the designed that page?

Re:These pictures get worse and worse. (1)

wizzardme2000 (702910) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487213)

LOL, CSS as its finest. Now if only space.com had cookies worth stealing...

Re:These pictures get worse and worse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487236)

Someone has to say it... (2, Funny)

bwcarty (660606) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486917)

Do you like your quasi-futuristic clothes Mr. Powers? I designed them myself.

Re:Someone has to say it... (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487302)

Do you like your quasi-futuristic clothes Mr. Powers? I designed them myself.

He would be the designer. He had a ritualistically shaved scrotum which would not be harmed by a spray on second skin. Looks like a TBHW (Total Body Hot Wax) for every one else.

Fix problems first. (2, Funny)

Bite-lover (826567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486927)

A redesigned suit? How about before they do that they come and fix my toaster. It's been shooting toast at me for years because NASA reprogrammed it for 'defense from hungry aliens' If they can't fix my damn toaster, what makes them think a redesign will help?

Re:Fix problems first. (1)

Doctor Crumb (737936) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486953)

I've been saying it for years; how come we can send a man to the moon but we can't fix bite-lover's toaster?

Re:Fix problems first. (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487242)

To be fair some crackpots say that Bite-Lover's toaster is a hoax.

About time.. (5, Interesting)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486943)


I was actually just watching an IMAX Nasa special the other day and was shocked to hear that the current space suits weigh in at almost 250lbs!! I know that without gravity, it doesn't matter how much you weigh, but the bulk in those suits seriously made it hard for the astronauts to do their job at times.

A new "second skin" version of the suit would certainly make it easier on the astronauts, and would free up a ton of space for hauling more cargo up there as well.

On a side note, Nasa was testing this cool 100ft solar array in the movie, which when folded up fit into a 7 inch tall box! It was pretty cool.

Re:About time.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487090)

Even without gravity it matters how much you weigh. All that mass has momentum, making it that much harder to slow down or speed up. Also, just imagine what it's like walking around in a microgravity environment - you only weigh 5 pounds, but when you turn a corner your body keeps moving with the momentum you know and love on Earth. You have to lean extremely far in the opposite direction to counter your momentum. Space suits make it that much worse.

There's a lot of bits in that 250 pounds (3, Interesting)

imgunby (705676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487095)

it may be incredibly heavy by earth measure, but the suit also includes a personalized liquid cooling system, thermal protection for the extreme temperature differences between sun and shade, and a pretty serious amount of puncture protection. While it may not fit the bill for hiking across the mars terrain, it does offer some serious advantages over what sounds like an incredibly complex and complicated applied second skin. having worn one (attended space camp far too many years ago), i'd have to say that i much prefer it to a wet suit.

Re:About time.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487154)

Well, that's not that impressive if the box is also 51 feet long!

Re:About time.. (4, Informative)

s0m3body (659892) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487222)

it DOES matter even in space

being free of gravity does not mean being free of inertia

Re:About time.. (3, Interesting)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487234)

I was actually just watching an IMAX Nasa special the other day and was shocked to hear that the current space suits weigh in at almost 250lbs!!
So? I SCUBA dive for fun, and for the dive I like the most, under-ice diving, the drysuit, the underwear, the weights (because the suit floats), the tanks and the rest of the diving gear weight a full 100 pounds. And when you ice dive, you suit-up a long way from the hole, to which you have to walk with the gear on, and when you wear it all around you and on your back, you don't really feel it. So 250 pounds is not going to be that much of a burden, for somebody as fit as an astro-nut...

"Suits you well" (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486946)

Tight-fitting suits may mean that astronauts are more likely to get turned on, resulting in all kinds of mayham and soap operas. Space can get lonely. Maybe the baggy look is better afterall.

Re:"Suits you well" (1)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486969)

Maybe it'll be like star trek. Not that I've been looking, but has anybody seen an officer get a stiffy?

Re:"Suits you well" (1)

MarkMcLeod (759072) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487009)

Well, atleast you won't need to remember to bring contraception. You can spray on some of that second skin, and hump for days. If it can withstand the martian surface, it can withstand my girlfriends...well..yah know.

man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487038)

I heard slashdot was gay, but I never thought it was this bad.

An article about space suits makes you think about boners. That's so gay.

Re:man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487132)

You are homophobic, seriously, get some help. Stop using the term gay as a derrogative

there's no derision there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487196)

If I say "space suit" and the first thing this guy thinks is "boner," how is that not gay? Did I say "you're gay, and that sucks"? No, I merely pointed out that if one's immediate reaction to something completely non-boner-related is "boners," that's a good sign that they might be a homosexual.

Oh, and derogative is not a noun, faggot.

Re:"Suits you well" (1)

deft (253558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487227)

Eww.

Because in space when you scream (in estacy), theres nowhere for it to go.

Re:"Suits you well" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487272)

Let's just hope the second skin suit has some built in elasticity where it counts..would hate to have all the air sucked up because his suit broke when hers turned him on. ;-)

I can see it now... (3, Funny)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486950)

...the first medical accident when someone thinks this stuff is aerosol cheese.

The reason why its not yet implemented (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11486954)

MIT says the biggest problem with the suits is bowl movements. As one researcher put it:

"We spray these guys like shrink wrap and then 5 minutes later he has to take a dump. Now what?"

Itchy Nose. (3, Interesting)

emjoi_gently (812227) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487069)

There thing that would stop me from going into space in a new or old suit it small, but important (to me).
What if I get an itchy nose?
I know it sounds silly, but I'm serious. I can imagine getting a serious, claustrophobic panic attack in one of those things, of something as minor as that. Being trapped in this thing and unable to take it off.

Re:Itchy Nose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487116)

Incorporated into that second skin would be electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers to enhance human strength and stamina just imagine. a skin tight suit and artificial muscles inhancing your strength and stamina. no need for condoms.

Re:Itchy Nose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487183)

I know you are kidding, but.....
I attended a lecture given by Jim Lovell several years ago, and he actually addressed this point. He said that after NASA showed the space suits to the astronauts/engineers and some smart-ass asked your question.
As a result NASA actually placed a small piece of abrasive ceramic inside of the helmet so an astronaut could simply move their head to the side and itch their nose.
Lovell went on to say that to that day ('95 or so) that no one he knew of actually used it.

Re:The reason why its not yet implemented (1)

hey (83763) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487218)

What's the big deal about moving bowls?
Dishes, bowls and plates should be easy to move in these suits!

Yeah... OK (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11486970)

Future space explorers may apply a "spray-on" second skin, an organic, biodegradable layer offering protection in extremely dusty planetary environments. Incorporated into the second skin will be electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers to enhance human strength and stamina.

They may? Right in the spray right? must come out like protein noodles. That or the mussles and the electronic traces are assembled by nanomachine in the spray. I'll get right on that, You can spray that on someone else.

Re:Yeah... OK (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487263)

We have stuff like that now.

Some primers when painted on a wall will plasticize with little threads running through them to support the paint.

Re:Yeah... OK (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487355)

So spray it on your skin then... My point is, I'd rather take the risk of having dusty hands and not having the grip of ten men then put this stuff on my skin.

Warning! (5, Funny)

EdwinBoyd (810701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487004)

This article contains material on spacesuit evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of spacesuits. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

Radiation protection (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487006)

A thin layer of biomaterial may be sufficient for protecting you from the vacuum of space if they get around the engineering considerations, but I for one would not want a "second skin" as my only protection from radiation and cosmic rays.

This is a consideration particularly where there is no atmosphere absorbing any of it before it gets to you (eg the moon and Earth orbit). The Earth also has its magnetic field helping shield us.

Also consider that the thinnner and lighter a material is the more likely a rip becomes. That one rip will easily end your life. You'd need to incorporate a system self repair of small holes and tears - perhaps a gluey substance that seals under pressure.

Re:Radiation protection (2, Interesting)

m0rphin3 (461197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487096)

From TFA:
"..an astronaut first donning his or her customized elastic Bio-Suit layer. Then a
hard torso shell would be slipped on, sealed via couplings located at the hips. A portable life support system is then attached mechanically to the hard torso shell and provides gas counter pressure. Gas pressure would flow freely into the wearer's helmet and down tubes on the bio-suit layer to the gloves and boots"


The thin 'second skin' is augmented by a hard torso shell, and the oxygen seems to go in tubes, most likely these will also be reinforced, so ripping or tearing does not seem very likely.

I get a mental image of something like an Imperial Stormtrooper , IIRC the costume was something like a scuba suit underneath with white plastic 'armor' on top..

Hmm, possibly George Lucas can get 'prior art' on this..:)

Re:Radiation protection (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487168)

Two points

1) Some radiation in space (ie at its normal strength) can only be blocked by a suitable thickness of material. A _thin_ hard shell won't offer much protection. When there's a solar storm for example astronauts cease all EVA activity and go to the most heavily shielded area of the craft/space station.

2) Space is a difficult environment to work in. Rips and tears are actually quite likely. Take a look at the servicing missions for hubble. Many hours in a single EVA performing complex repairs using lots of tools (power and otherwise). Want to take a leak? Consider your spacesuit your nappy. Astronauts have a long difficult, uncomfortable job in an unfamiliar environment. Want to bet their life that they won't make a mistake that will tear their suit?

Re:Radiation protection (1)

m0rphin3 (461197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487320)

So make a thick shell. And if they go for shelter in a solar storm anyway, you don't need all that much protection, do you?

Have you tried ripping or tearing Nomex [dupont.com] or Kevlar [dupont.com] lately? Neither has to be very thick before tearing it takes a bit of force.

While surfing I also found this: Tyvek [dupont.com] which I'd never heard about, but apparently is quite thin and is used in hazardous biological environments.
A rip or tear could be just as fatal in such an environment, but thousands of professionals wear this stuff every day, so I guess the danger must be slight..

Re:Radiation protection (1)

the pickle (261584) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487127)

Hey, that holds huge potential for the condom industry! Just think -- like Tang, freeze-dried ice cream, and Velcro, condoms can be revolutionised by NASA!

p

Seals under pressure? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487148)

You'd need to incorporate a system self repair of small holes and tears - perhaps a gluey substance that seals under pressure.
Doesn't sound like a particularly good solution if you're operating in a vacuum!

Re:Seals under pressure? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487188)

Doesn't sound like a particularly good solution if you're operating in a vacuum!

If a tear occurs the liquid would be drawn out by the vacuum, and then somehow harden. I haven't thought this out in much detail, and you're right there could be problems, but it's an approach that might prove feasible.

not a solution for the wrong problem. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487244)

A thin layer of biomaterial may be sufficient for protecting you from the vacuum of space if they get around the engineering considerations, but I for one would not want a "second skin" as my only protection from radiation and cosmic rays.

That's a real problem, but current space ships offer little protection, much less current 250lb+ space suits. No suit is really going to help you, so you need a shelter. Some ideas are lithium shields and crew quarters inside fuel tanks!

These suits are being designed mostly for places like mars which has a partial pressure. They offer protection against dust, which would foul up current joints.

"Hard suits" might be useful for some jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487017)

-- they can be made equal-volume suits, so bending an arm or a leg won't have the resistance caused by changing the volume of air. Think high-tech plate armor.

We might see Imperial Storm Troopers yet. :)

One problem... (3, Funny)

jemenake (595948) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487037)

Is it just me... or do the old suits look freakin' cool and the new ones look totally gay?

The old ones look functional, with color-coded hose hook-ups and all... like a deep-sea diver... a deep-space diver, if you will.

These new ones... jeez... you can tell if the guy's circumcised or not! Seeing as how an astronaut is probably more likely to encounter an alien being than the rest of us land-lubbers, I'd be very concerned if the first human the martians meet is dressed like a metrosexual.

Re:One problem... (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487111)

If Spandex was good enough for Buck Rogers, it's good enough for *my* ass.

Besides, when I was a boy, we only had vacuum suits made from sabertooth-tiger leather, and we LIKED it.

Re:One problem... (1)

anaradad (199058) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487295)

Is it just me... or do the old suits look freakin' cool and the new ones look totally gay?

Totally gay is a good thing. Be nicer.

EVAs (1, Funny)

timlee (303958) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487071)

"I think the most critical element for success will be the early creation of an effective, modular EVA system architecture"

*Yawn*

Let me know when they start developing Gundams.

star trek (1)

frankmu (68782) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487073)

again, star trek precedes real life... all we need are female vulcan astronauts.

Re:star trek (1)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487365)

And former Borg drones.

How much disinfo is out there? (4, Insightful)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487083)

If you read official NASA stuff, you will find that the space suits are there to keep the guys warm in the cold of space. That is total BS. Put a self warming thing in a perfect insulator and what happens? It gets hot. It turns out that since the Russians haven't figured out how to make peltier effect space suits, that many of the details of the Apollo era suits are still secret. Even some of the details of early astronaut almost dying from dehydrating in their suits haven't been released

One of the other things is that your blood will boil or explode in space. Thats not true either. All thats needed to protect the skin is a thin layer of something like a cheap wet suit. There have been studies that show thick rubber gloves would work fine for the pressure if there was a way to get rid of the sweat.

The real mechanical problem is keeping the head protected along with proper containment of everything the body is trying to get rid of.

Of course the real problem is all that radiation.

Forget New Space Suits (1)

heptapod (243146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487102)

Solve the problem of bone rot and muscular atrophy then work on creating vehicles to move people to LaGrange points or beyond.

Power Rangers (2, Funny)

Ced_Ex (789138) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487109)

Ahhh yes... we're one step closer to getting Power Ranger suits. Then we all have to learn to talk and nod our heads at the same time.

The part of the article that caught my eye.. (1)

[cx] (181186) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487147)

"Incorporated into that second skin would be electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers to enhance human strength and stamina."

When do you think this will be available for the public and how much longer after that will it be banned from all sports?

[cx]

Enhancing Stamina (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11487165)

They claim to integrate artificial muscle fibers to enhance strength and stamina. These suits are allegedly for use on Mars. On Mars? A planet with 0.376 times Earth's gravity? Why bother? If you can stand up on earth on your own legs you should be able to lift yourself and 62.4% of your body mass of additional mass with as little difficulty as you walk on earth today.

The problem with reduced-gravity environments is losing muscle mass and bone density. If anything a long term martian astronaut will have problems getting an adequate workout on Mars.

Yay! (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487171)

Yay! Finally, sexy tight-fitting spacesuits instead of the disgusting bulky hulks of today!

(More than 30 years ago, Larry Niven proposed such spacesuits in his "Known Space" novels).

Agreed there is any number of candidates..... (1)

Guy G (783837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487200)

I'd like to see on their way to Mars !

Re:Agreed there is any number of candidates..... (1)

Guy G (783837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487243)

George might still be young enough to fit into one of these new fangled space suits......

Earth to Space Cadets, Reality for you on line 1 (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487257)

Future space explorers may apply a "spray-on" second skin, an organic, biodegradable layer offering protection in extremely dusty planetary environments. Incorporated into the second skin will be electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers to enhance human strength and stamina.

ooooooKay then. I suppose this has been dreamed up by the same people who envisioned "Nuclear cars", jetpacks, tube-elevators, practically sentient computers, and ray guns?

Seriously- what qualifies some of these people to talk about the future of space ANYTHING? For 40 years, they've been mostly getting it wrong, and doing not much better than playing the part of scifi authors.

Years and years and years ago (5, Informative)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487343)

in that lost and far-away decade of the Jerry Pournelle described in an article in Galaxy that was later reprinted in A Step Farther Out some space suit research that David Clark did in the late 1960s. This was for suits that would provide pressure via a skin tight fit. Unfortunately NASA stopped doing this research and stuck with the suits we have today, which are large, cumbersome, heavy and extremely expensive. Pournelle described how these suits would work in a couple of his novels including Birth of Fire and Exiles to Glory, it's nice to see that NASA is now getting their shit together and restarting this research.

Biodegradable? (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11487349)

In space? Without bacteria or oxygen?

The only thing I can think of to degarde your suit would be sunlight and I don't think that would be a design feature.

Fluffy, very fluffy but meaningless.
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