[MIT] Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A.
Space pioneers may go to Mars wearing skintight space suits developed by Dr. Dava Newman and the Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) Research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Mass. With support from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts and Trotti & Assoc. Inc., Cambridge, Mass., the BioSuit is being developed to provide a ‘second skin’ capability for astronaut performance. Processes such as electrospinning and melt-blowing have been used to develop fibers for the suit. A current mockup uses nylon, spandex and urethane layers with varied properties and electronics incorporated into the suit and helmet materials that can have “smart textile” functions relating to physiology (thermal comfort), communications and spatial orientation. Space suit research can lead to improvements in the quality of life here on earth, too, through advances in orthotics that can help children with cerebral palsy and ‘smart orthoses’ for stroke patients.