The iconic image of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon still causes excitement today.
In 1969, that level of achievement in the space race was huge…kinda like their 300lb spacesuits. You may look at that picture and think, “That was over 40 years ago. We’ve upgraded our suits by now, haven’t we?” Bless your heart for giving NASA the benefit of the doubt, but unfortunately, you’d be wrong.
Ever since the United States “won the space race”, the drive to innovate and continue exploring the stars has all but died. Sure, NASA put the Curiosity Rover on Mars recently, but it’s nowhere near the dream of a colony of humans on Mars by this time.
Luckily, Dava Newman has NASA covered. An aerospace engineering professor from MIT, Newman recently showcased her “Biosuit” at a TEDWoman event in San Francisco this year. The suit is expected to replace NASA’s current lineup of bulky outerwear for astronauts sometime in the near future.
The suit is special not only because it’s designed to be skintight, but it can do so because of “spiderman-like” tendons that don’t break when an astronaut bends. This is why the old generation of suits were necessarily bulky–astronauts needed to move around and function, even if they looked like giant panda bears each time we saw them go on a space walk.
The Biosuit can be easily repaired if damaged (even while in space), can be fitted to all sizes of astronauts (today’s suits are only for people 5’5″ and taller), and is extremely light. It also uses just a fraction of the materials and electronics necessary to build one of the modern suits, making it cheaper and more environmentally-friendly in the long run.
Newman hopes to see the first humans walk on Mars in her lifetime, and made her suits specifically for that purpose. Using today’s suits would be unfeasible and cause more problems than would be worth the trip. Here’s hoping NASA snatches up a few of Newman’s suits while they’re on sale.
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