Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Skin-Tight Spacesuit

PostedNovember 2, 2014

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Anchor Lead: Astronauts of the future could get a style upgrade, in a skin-tight suit that would allow better mobility. And it might have benefits here on Earth too.

Randy Atkins: Current space suits put astronauts in a balloon of pressurized air that mimics Earth’s atmospheric pressure. That allows the mechanics of breathing, but it limits other movements. So Brad Holschuh, an MIT engineer, is developing a new high-tech outfit made with memory metal springs that’s loose-fitting when put on…

Brad Holschuh: …then all you need to do is run a current through it and it’s going to pull all of these springs tight all over the suit and it’s going to shrink wrap around you.

Randy Atkins: Like a blood pressure cuff at its max.

Brad Holschuh: Think a little bit tighter than that and that’s what the suit’s going to have to do everywhere.

Randy Atkins: But, since the pressure’s evenly distributed on your entire body, Holschuh says it will be comfortable. On Earth, the technology might be used on isolated parts of the body to treat burns, circulatory issues, or severe bleeding. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.