Dava Newman, an Aeronautics researcher at MIT, has been working on a revolutionary new spacesuit for more than decade, and she recently showed off her progress at the TEDWomen session last month. The crux of the design is a new way to deliver pressure that the human body desperately needs to survive the vacuum of space. A traditional astronaut spacesuit creates a rigid pressurized vessel which is bulky and cumbersome. In contrast, Newman’s BioSuit employs semi-rigid ribs traced across the body to provide mechanical counter-pressure while letting the wearer retain a full range of movement. It sounds a bit like a suit that give you a light hug all around your body.
If we plan to go to Mars and beyond, a new, more maneuverable spacesuit will likely be essential. If you’ve ever seen a recorded spacewalk, you can get a sense of just how difficult it is to do the simplest tasks in space. This new design has the potential to completely change the game.
Unfortunately, Newman hasn’t received NASA funding for the project since 2005. She recently told Boston Magazine that “without funding, we are sort of working on this one student at a time. We have a pretty extensive plan to get to a flight system for the BioSuit, and, if that were in place and funded, in two years of full-on work, we could be ready.”
Hopefully, someone can give her some $$$ to move this project along.
[via Business Insider]