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Space Science

The Astronaut's New Clothes 143

Metox writes: "An article posted on www.sciam.com gives a glimpse into the future of space clothing for use in hostile environments, Earth orbit, Mars, etc. Of all the facts in the article, the one I found most interesting is that the current EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) suit is an astonishing 24 years old. However, the article gives a good reason for this. As the EVA suit is used in a microgravity environment, mobility isn't as important, and dexterity can be enhanced by simple changes to the arms and hands. The article highlights the current tests of two new EVA/Mars contenders, the I-Suit and the H-Suit."
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The Astronaut's New Clothes

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  • skin tight suits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Papa Legba ( 192550 ) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:42AM (#2296832)
    space is not going to be really conqurable until we can get skin tight style suits going. Even with the fact that in space weight becomes less of a problems (it is not gone, it returns as inertia force). Range of mobility in an enviroment that can kill you will be key. I would hope that they are spending more research in this area. Polarizing suits and cermic wire heaters would seem to be the way to go. The real trick is keeping what is on the inside from leaking to the ourside. Non-porus plastics are available, I would think you could layer those with light sensitice polarizing compunds, beef up the style of artic survival suits heaters and give it a go. If we can free ourselves from the bulkyness of the suits we have now anything in space will be possible.
    • A good series of books to read on the subject are Kim Stanley Robinsons trilogy Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars. He writes of skin tight suits which when broken seal to the skin and leave the exposed skin open to the atmosphere. This results in a minor burn. Im not sure whether this is correct though?
    • Range of mobility in an enviroment that can kill you will be key. I would hope that they are spending more research in this area. Polarizing suits and cermic wire heaters would seem to be the way to go. The real trick is keeping what is on the inside from leaking to the ourside. Non-porus plastics are available, I would think you could layer those with light sensitice polarizing compunds, beef up the style of artic survival suits heaters and give it a go.

      It depends what environment you're planning to go into - for EVA in space there really isn't anything that having active limbs can help with in most emergencies, because there's nothing to hold on to.

      On the other hand on a planet (or moon) surface you're right - mobility is vital. Skin tight or assisted suits - and I can see advantages of assisted suits too, why stick with plain old human strength when you can have an exo-skeleton.

      Now we just need a cold-war to force a couple of countries to have a pointless posturing fight in which both try to get into space quicker so that we throw some real money at this problem. The advantages in terms of cool new materials with applications back here on earth will make it all worthwhile, but you can't convince investors of that (hang on, .coms but in space. Wonder if that would sell)
    • by ThatComputerGuy ( 123712 ) <amrit AT transamrit DOT net> on Friday September 14, 2001 @01:14AM (#2296975) Homepage
      The best way for NASA to get more funding! Skin tight suits, hot female astronauts, and TV broadcasts... oh yeah...
    • We're not going into combat situations here. Skin tight mobility might be nice, but it's not entirely necessary. It's also unlikely, since insulation is more valuable. Having lived in Edmonton, where it sometimes goes down to -40 in mid winter, I wouldn't care much about a skin-tight suit in a hostile environment. You can get very usable mobility with a few layers of clothing. It's a bit bulky and slows you down a bit, but not enough to be bothersome.

      The one place where dexterity is really valuable is in the hands. Most people have no problems with a nice bulky (warm) parka, but you can pay big bucks for a really good pair of thin gloves that still keep your hands warm.

      • Would robotic hands attached to the ends of the sleeves, operated by hands within the sleeves, be a good workaround for this? You wouldn't need much insulation for the robot parts; the challenge would be getting them to faithfully mimic the motions of their flesh-and-blood counterparts - basically, complex puppetry. A position-sensing glove for the flesh hand would probably be necessary to gather all the information on the position of each finger, tilt of the wrist, et cetera, but that's been done, no?
    • Ceramic heaters? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2nd Post! ( 213333 )
      I'd think, in space and such, with a proper insulative suit, the problem isn't generating heat, because the human body does that okay... it's shedding excess heat!

      The human body, unfortunately, doesn't cool down by radiating in the IR range; it cools down via evaporation of sweat.

      So in a skintight suit, the sweat would pool and collect into a thin puddle under the suit and heat would start to build up pretty quickly, I think.

      I have no idea how the Dune stillsuits conquered that problem...
      • I have no idea how the Dune stillsuits conquered that problem...

        last i checked, they conquered that problem by being fictitious.
      • The human body does cool by IR radiation, as does any other object. The question is, how fast is that (answer: "In vacuum, less than it generates"). Plus, ordinarily the environment radiates back.


        It also cools by simple heat exchange with its environment, which is not a problem in vacuum 'cause there's no environment to exchange heat with there. On Mars, which does have a somewhat hostile atmosphere, this is a problem.

    • Skin tight, also needed are ultrawarm thinsulate hooker boots... What gives, more manueverable yes, skin tight no... Althought pictures of female astronaughts in their SKINTIGHT space suits will probably become more and more common..
    • Looks like you thought about the "cold of space", but forgot the heat of direct sunlight. The key of insulation is "how does a thermos know to keep hot things hot and cold stuff cold?"
    • space is not going to be really conqurable until we can get skin tight style suits going.

      I didn't realize we were going to have a shot at conquering space with anything short of nanotechnology :P

      Skintight suits are reasonable when the atmosphere is close to 1 bar. Otherwise, I want a hardsuit. Also, for protection from radiation, only a hardsuit is really reasonable at this point.

      • There seems to be this great misconception that we need nanotechnology in order to really conquer space. The truth is that we need nanotechnology to conquer space if we insist on doing it with such wussy launch vehicles.

        Have you ever heard of Project Orion? The idea was to get a ship into space by exploding a bunch of nukes beneath it, ("nuclear pulse propulsion") thus pushing it up. Fission reactions are about 60 times more powerful than the most powerful chemical reactions, so the Orion ship was designed less like a stack of rockets and more like a battleship. It was never built because of a treaty in 1963 which made the use of nukes above ground illegal.

        Of course, an even better idea would be fusion pulse propulsion, using hydrogen bombs.
        • I'm famliar with Orion. I think it's a cool idea. Of course, building something in orbit is a cooler idea. Then again, you could always build an orion in space.

          But by "conquer" space, I mean really subjugate it. For any job that large, you need nanotechnology, and I don't just mean the ability to build nanoscale structures.
    • These were actually tested during the 70s... the suits were made of a material similar to Spandex, covering the entire body, with a rigid helmet attached. They worked well enough that they got to the "stick people in a vacuum chamber" phase of testing, and nobody died.

      I'm not sure why they didn't go ahead and design the next generation of space suits around this concept-- maybe NASA didn't think anybody would trust a suit that didn't make you look like the Michelin Man, or maybe some of the astronauts had embarassing beer guts, or maybe it just took too much custom work to fit each suit to an individual.
      • >>I'm not sure why they didn't go ahead and design the next generation of space suits around this concept

        the short answer:
        testicles

        The material was lycra.
        for most of the body it worked fine, but one area tended to painfully swell.

        G. Harry Stine had an article on the suit in Analog magazine.
  • Sounds like a good idea. I am all for it.

    Would it be possible for an astronaut stranded in space in one of these suits (or any suit) to manuever themselves to the space station at all, or would they be pretty fucked? I know it sounds highly unlikely, but it could happen, couldn't it?
  • Long live science! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ghoser777 ( 113623 ) <fahrenba@ m a c . c om> on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:49AM (#2296862) Homepage
    From the article:
    The Hamilton Sundstrand team is considering a technology that would project information onto the helmet's visor or onto the astronaut's retina. They are also looking into small wrist-worn devices.

    This is why I love seemingly pointless scientific endeavors. Why should we go to Mars? I guess it's cool, maybe we'll find some cool microrganisms to study, etc, but cool new gadgets are what I'm into.

    I want this display info on my glasses system. Forget PDAs, all your info could be on your glasses. Even better, maybe on your contacts. No more forgetting my PDA in my backpack. This is freakin cool!

    F-bacher
    • I seem to recall a commercial from a few years ago lauding space technology on earth. The example that they gave was in fact a device that displayed stuff on a pair of glasses. I never heard anything else about that device though.
    • I know .sig replies are dumb, but I just had to say I love your .sig.
    • They make retinal displays.

      http://www.mvis.com/retscandisp.htm

      Good stuff. The cell phone gizmo is at the bottom, that's your PDA.

      Full Disclosure: I've lost a good deal of money on their stock.
  • Skin-tight suits (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Merk ( 25521 )

    In nearly all sci-fi, people in space wear skin-tight suits. Since space is a vacuum, I can understand why a suit would tend to billow out, but does anybody know if it is possible to make a non-bulky skinsuit? Maybe something like the G suits pilots wear? Maybe something related to scuba diving (though I know the pressure difference there is the opposite)? I dunno, but if I'm not going to get my hovercar anytime soon, I at least want my spacesuit.

    • Re:Skin-tight suits (Score:2, Informative)

      by demo9orgon ( 156675 )
      In Sci-Fi, anime, and whatnot, I think skin-tight spacesuits on women are probably there for more aesthetic reasons. :-)

      What you're talking about is called a "positive pressure" suit. The premise being that if you can apply 15+lbs/sq.ft on someone's body in a consistent fashion, then you don't have to create a bubble around them by using pressurized air. The problem with elastic suits like this was the hands and the joints, which would comically bulge creating unequal areas of lesser pressure and rendering the suit somewhat useless.

      Enjoy the karma...

    • Re:Skin-tight suits (Score:5, Informative)

      by jinx90277 ( 517785 ) on Friday September 14, 2001 @01:23AM (#2297004)
      The three main factors which cause spacesuits to be thick, bulky items:
      1. Cooling. Spacesuits have a liquid cooling system as one of the innermost layers to keep heat from building up rapidly (and fatally) inside the suit. There is obviously a limit to how small those capillaries can be and still be effective.
      2. Puncture resistance. The danger of suit integrity being compromised after falling or rubbing against rocks is something to consider. There is also the danger of being struck by a micro-meteorite, although it would be somewhat less likely on Mars than on the Moon.
      3. Radiation resistance. Outside of the Earth's atmosphere, radiation intensity increases tremendously. Although some materials are better at stopping high-energy particles than others, they are also more dense, which defeats the idea of a skintight suit.
      Also, don't forget features such as waste removal which add to suit size, though conceivably storage for that could be integrated into a backpack or other external unit.
  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 )
    When we go to Mars, best case right now, you would be in transit for six months," Hodgson says. Once the spacecraft reached the planet, it could stay for only a few days.

    A couple days seem a bad return on billions of dollars. Mars base on the other hand....
    • You're right, it's like paying a tens of millions dollars to take a red-eye to Las Vegas, on the way you exercise like a rabid hamster, get wicked radiation poisoning, brittle bones, and eat babyfood coming and going and are constantly asked to follow some list of crap to do. Oh yeah, and hope to hell the centrpetial toilet/vacuum thingy doesn't screw up.

      Can't say I'm too impressed with the idea of a Mars base yet. I've followed the progress of the one up north (Devon Island--great job), and I don't see much in the way of returns. Maybe I just suffer from not having enough imagination to feel that putting people on Mars actually accomplishes much.

      Personally, I'd like to see some of the technologies pioneered on the DeepSpace 1 mission applied to "Wildcatters", automated scouting vessels which would assay the mineral wealth of the asteroid belts. We need to get humanity up the gravity well and into orbit, and the only way to do that is to justify the expense, and if we can smelter and cast/synthesize perfect metals up in microgravity, it would go a long way towards paying the bills. We can do some wild stuff with metals in microgravity (Gundainium anyone?) and that's a technology that doesn't violate any religious beliefs, and it would possbily even make Greenpeace happy by reducing the potential for near-earth-objects.

      Once space exploration pays it's bills, we're going to leapfrog through the system and eventually to other stars. Until then, the space programs of the planet are nothing more than a way to spy and play diplomacy games in a weak attempt to legitimately recoup multi-billion dollar RnD budgets and college research programs.

      Yow! Guess I had space on the brain tonite!

    • Seems very mad to me. The problem with the journey to Mars is a human problem. There should be no issue with sending a continual supply of food and materials. Leave them in orbit round mars till needed. Then either dock with the mother ship when it arrives or drop through the atmosphere for delivery on planet as needed.

  • Problems abound.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Friday September 14, 2001 @01:24AM (#2297006) Homepage


    I dont think any suit short of multiple layers of Kevlar (heh, like a hundred) is going to protect an astronaut from being killed by a fleck of paint going 20,000 MPH..Thats the main problem I think should be addressed. I'd be more concerned about physical safety than I would be about mobility.

    Cheers,
    • Where are you going to find flecks of paint traveling 20kmph on the surface of Mars?

      I would have to hazard the existence of an EVA suit and a ''Planetary Descent Hazard' suit. At least it'd be something more comfortable and utilitarian than the short if cute yeoman's miniskirts in Star Trek.
    • Re:Problems abound.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sunking2 ( 521698 )
      Actually, a study was done about this and it was determined that while working outside of the ISS, the HUT can withstand a hit from an object about the size of a pencil eraser without being penetrated. Unfortunately, I can't remember the actual speed that this assumed the object was moving at, but I think around 20K mph is ball park. The speed in which this study was asked for and done makes me suspect that there may have been a near miss of some sort during a mission. Officially we'll probably never find that out.
  • Maybe this could mean the US and Russians will finally standardize on one space suit, instead of having to spend millions on an airlock because god forbid we cooperate...
    • Actually, Ham Sund does alot of work on the Russian suit now. There have been several occasions when I've walked into the lab area and seen a US and Russian suit side by side being worked on. The actual company is Space Systems Internation and our web page is here [hsssi.com].

      Here's [hsssi.com] a picture of the employee lobby which shows from right to left: Apollo moon suit, I believe a mercury suit, gemini suit, current shuttle eva suit, and then a mars prototype suit.

      You'll see to the right of the mars suit is a little rover. The idea being that the rover would follow the atronaught around, carrying any tools, oxygen, etc, etc for him. Something like this will probably be needed because the different in gravity between the moon and mars is enough that the weight of the suit needs to be reduced in order to increase the endurance of the astronaut.

      I can tell you that there will only be one replacement suit that everyone in the world will use (Except maybe the chineese, who can tell about them). There is a major drive in the industry for consolidation.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Spacesuits are special clothes that are made in order to protect the bodies of astronauts in the space. Astronauts may keep being alive by wearing spacesuits in the space at all times. Human beings are not able to keep their lives in the space by wearing clothes as those on the earth. For this
    reason, astronauts wear specially manufactured spacesuits so that they can endure the vaccuum, radiation, and temperatures.

    Mars is a different environment from that of the earth on which we live. It is a space in which there is practically no atmospheric pressure nor significant oxygen, and the extremely hot and cold environments are repeated by the solar energy. Also, astronauts are threatened by the space dust
    flying around at a fast speed, various electronic waves, radiation, etc. Therefore, in order for an astronaut to come out of a spaceship and to move around freely, and to urinate.

    This post was first marked -1 troll, then mismoderated to offtopic. Clearly the most on topic post in the thread at this moment is the following post.

    It regards the main artwork of the story and discusses the problem of LONG TERM space suit usage.

    The drawing in the story shows a sight hard to believe, a biological female comfortable on mars.

    As you may know, extended stay in a suit in the airforce is miserable for females once the primary diaper padding (for females) is soiled.

    catheterizing may help, but self catheterizing is difficult and prone to problems over multiple usage. Even worse, extgended catheterization of female urethra weakens an already very weak structure.

    The male urethra has a strong ring of circular bands (including "fundus ring") to prevent not only urine output, but to prevent massive retrograde ejaculation. A backup sphincter of striated, not smooth, muscle assists in male continence as well.

    Basically thick viscous ejaculate matter can go only forward, not backward through the sphincter into the bladder.

    Females, unfortunately, lack a solid ring and as can be seen in anatomical photo cross sections, possess two bulbous muscular clumps to serve as a partial seal.

    That is one reason many females are more incontinent than men, and why many more females urinate while giggling than men.

    Elderly men with prostate problems are a different problem.

    But without penii, it is aparent that these space suits are miserable eternal wet diapers for females.

    This is asuming that females are going to be needed in space for critical work in the first place.

    Did the moderator even LOOK at the story before slamming this to -1?

    • Did the moderator even LOOK at the story before slamming this to -1?

      i'm willing to bet that choice phrases like "What about suits for Dickless Wonders" and "What about space suits for the penis challenged" were among the reasons for the post's demise.
    • Menstration is not really a problem. If needed, there are drugs available that will all but halt the menstration process. Also, although they make up a relatively small percentage of EVAs, women hold some of the longest duration space walks ever. And we aren't talking about just floating in space, we are talking about rigorous work such as assembling parts of the ISS. The reasoning behind this has generally been that women have a lower repseratory rate than most men, and are typically smaller, which gives them a center of mass more suitable for work in a weightless environment.

      Of course, the disadvantage of this is that the suits have to be that much smaller, and currently there is an awefull lot packed into each suit. It used to be that each suit was designed for an individual. Now they come in sizes. Currently work is being done on an extra small suit, with the target astronaut being Japanees females.
    • The male urethra has a strong ring of circular bands (including "fundus ring") to prevent not only urine output, but to prevent massive retrograde ejaculation.

      Don't knock retrograde ejaculation until you try it.

      But seriously, you wonder why your post was moderated as offtopic? You could have summed up 3/4 of it with - "Current spacesuits were designed without proper consideration of the female anatomy." Instead you ramble on about "bulbous muscular clumps" and whatnot for nearly 10 paragraphs.

  • looks weird (Score:1, Funny)

    by mobets ( 101759 )
    Am I the only one who thinks it looks like something out of an ould sci-fi movie. I'm a bit young but the first thing that poped into my head was "Danger Danger"
  • The iSuit? (Score:3, Offtopic)

    by spauldo ( 118058 ) on Friday September 14, 2001 @02:19AM (#2297165)
    Am I the only one who sees this and wonders if it will come in nifty translucent colors?
  • As a Sci-Fi Geek, I won't be happy until everyone in space has a set of Power Armor with weapons and jump jets fully integrated!! :)
  • OLD SPACE SUITS (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Of all the facts in the article, the one I found most interesting is that the current EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) suit is an astonishing 24 years old"

    Yeah. I wish I had some beta XP style suit with many new features so that I could die in cold space all alone.

    What damn reason do we need new space suits for. The arguments here sound cosmetic. The object of wearing a space suit is to keep alive and do work in the worst environment ever known to man.

    And if you want a skin tight suit that will withstand a crack from a washer going 20,000 miles an hour forget it. The heat dissapation alone would vaporize a human.

    It is arrogant for a bunch of computer jocks to think you could engineer everthing much better than it is now. I understand it, I even hope our generation whips some serious smack down on the engineering world. But, there are people who DO this.

    AS if computers run for shit now as it is. They have a hell of long road before they are another ma bell or eiffel tower or autobahn or municipal electric service or even cable tv.

    Go back to work on computers, at least then you stand a shot at changing the world for the better.
    • What damn reason do we need new space suits for. The arguments here sound cosmetic.

      The new spacesuits are being designed with Mars in mind. The old EVA spacesuits weigh 300 pounds in Earth gravity, and would weigh 114 pounds on Mars. Not exactly easy to work in. Not only that, but the current spacesuit would be prone to lock-ups in a Martian environment. The mechanical joints of the suit (required because the air pressure makes bending the suit impossible otherwise) could easily be fouled by Martian dust. This is not a problem in space, and not really a problem on the moon.

      And if you want a skin tight suit that will withstand a crack from a washer going 20,000 miles an hour forget it

      A: Like I said, the new suits are designed with Mars in mind (where washers going 20 KMPH isn't exaclty a problem), and B: This is a problem already addressed by NASA on current spacewalks. Missions are planned to avoid floating debris (NORAD currently tracks all objects in Earth orbit 1 cm in diameter or larger), and the space shuttle itself is used as a shield against debris any smaller.

      So, yeah, the new spacesuits are needed if we have any plans of going to Mars.

      And in response to this:

      Yeah. I wish I had some beta XP style suit with many new features so that I could die in cold space all alone.

      Unlike Micro$oft, NASA actually tests things before going into full production.

      Praying for the victims at the WTC and Pentagon,
    • What damn reason do we need new space suits for?

      Because the current suits aren't appropriate for use on Mars, as per the article.

      The comment in the lead article, "the current EVA suit is 24 years old" is incorrect and misleading.

      Yes, the current suits are descendents or the A7LB suits used in Apollo. But since then, the design has been anything but static. The Apollo suits were designed for two things---as pressure suits for use in EVA situations, and as excursion suits for use on the Lunar surface. The Apollo suits had a number of features on them (the complicated joints in the legs to allow walking, the lunar overshoes, etc) that made them appropriate for lunar use.

      However, the EVA requirements for the shuttle are different than for Apollo, and the suits evolved appropriately, with more cameras, simpler legs, a hard upper torso for better pressure control, metal ring joints instead of zippers, etc. The current suits are much better for EVA use than the Apollo A7LB suits. But a number of these features aren't good for planetary use. The Hard Upper Torso adds a *lot* of weight. The PLSS is very heavy for 1/3 gravity use. The legs need to be modified to allow walking again. Etc...

      If we are going to Mars, a new suite optimized for the new conditions (including the fact that it needs to be designed to last for the years that travel to and from Mars requires) is needed. It must allow mobility, must be reusable, must have less weight, and many other factors.

      • If I recall correctly, the Shuttle suits were plagued with problems the first few times they were used. Also I seem to recall NASA sending up the old Apollo suits as emergency backups to use if the Shuttle bay doors had to be manually shut.
    • Hey!
      I qualified my comments by stating that there are logical reasons for NOT designing a new suit. Not the least of which is that in a microgravity environment mobility isn't as important as dexterity. My understanding is that the arms, and the gloves in particular, were one of the upgrades made to the current suit. That, and small upgrades to the life support systems as well.

      While the ideas about a skin tight suit are interesting while impractical, they do show that some people have IMAGINATIONS. Without which none of our spaceflight would even be possible.

  • I don't know that much about Mars atmosphere, pressure, and so on, so this might be a silly question, but...

    Do they need suits at all? Is running around the surface of Mars that much different than being halfway up Mt Everest? If it's too cold for extended trips, then a suit would be great, but if it's warm enough to go outside for a while, imagine how an astronaut would feel with the wind against his/her bare skin - knowing that it's the wind of a different planet...
    • Re:Necessary? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Random Walk ( 252043 )
      Interesting question indeed. Atmospheric pressure on the surface of Mars is about 6 millibar, which on Earth corresponds to a height of 35 km above sea level (4 times higher than Mt. Everest).

      Obviously at least the lungs must be pressurized, but what about the rest of the body ? There is some information on the consequences of such low pressure for the human body at this page [sff.net] (also some real cases discussed). Apparently some water vapor will evolve in the soft tissues and cause swelling of the body. This can be prevented by "a properly fitted elastic garment" at pressures as low as 20 millibar. It is not clear whether this would work at the 6 milibar on Mars.

  • old == reliable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Friday September 14, 2001 @11:22AM (#2298452) Homepage

    the one I found most interesting is that the current EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) suit is an astonishing 24 years old

    On the other hand, nobody has died or been injured in the last 24 years because of their suit. There's something to be said for that kind of reliability.

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Friday September 14, 2001 @11:40AM (#2298555) Homepage Journal
    Why can't they just use those metal and leather thongs with the metal bras and fur trim and big ass spears, spike heel thigh high boots. The men can dress like gladiators. At least that's how it is in the movies.
  • As usual, it's not NASA that is doing the major research in this area, it's private companies. Same as the research being done at Devon Island, etc. NASA has no intrest in sending humans to Mars any time soon. It will be private companies, or orginizaions like the Mars Society that will send humans to Mars, not NASA.
    (The Mars society actually has a cool new project underway, they are planning to launch some mice into orbit & simulate Mars gravity, so they can test the effects on mammals, & their offspring. Slightly more important and practical research than most of what NASA is doing)
    • Well, not according to Zubrin's Mars direct plan. His plan would send astronauts for a 6 month stay for 10 Billion dollars. Bill gates himself could finance that.
  • Notice the molding on the "H-Suit" worn by the male model. Will the female version have a bust molded into it, and be missing that raised portion on the cod-piece?
  • The real question is will the H-suit be hacked and get all the porn channels??
  • We really do need new space suits for the ISS. I suspect that they primarily got hit with budget cutting to reduce the cost of the station to something that won't cause it to be canned for being too expensive.

    The main annoyance with the current suits is that they operate at pure oxygen at a reduced pressure. This can very easily cause "The Bends", so you need to have an overnight pre-breathe.

    Jerry Pournelle argues that we need a zero-pre-breathe suit that is easy to deal with. Why? Because that way, you could assemble structures in space. For the long truss structure for the ISS, we are sending up integrated chunks. If EVA planning was easier and we send up ironworkers instead of scientists, we could send up components of a space structure in any booster, large or small, and assemble them into a completed structure. This makes more sense when you consider that it is far easier to create a reusable launch vehicle that has a quarter of the cargo-carying capacity of the shuttle than one that has the cargo-carying capacity of the shuttle.

    It's also good because you can have your final product as lightly constructed as a butterfly.

    I only half agree with Jerry Pournelle, instead figuring that what we need more is a large inflatable hangar. That way, you don't need to deal with your parts floating into orbit and becomming part of the space debris problem, you don't need any sort of space suit, and you don't need to deal with maintaining the space suits.

    I really would love it if somebody could reference some real research about skintight spacesuits for my reference files. I mean, if we ever want more people in space, an inexpensive skintight spacesuit would be great so that every room could have a few ready in case of depresurization.

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