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Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-26, 07:24 PM
New generation of spacesuit beind studied. Linky to space.com (http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/spacesuit_innovations_050126.html)


Future explorers on the Moon and Mars could be outfitted in lightweight, high-tech spacesuits that offer far more flexibility than the bulky suits that have been used for spacewalks in the 1960s.

Research is under way at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a Bio-Suit System that incorporates a suit designed to augment a person’s biological skin by providing mechanical counter-pressure. The “epidermis” of such a second skin could be applied in spray-on fashion in the form of an organic, biodegradable layer.

This coating would protect an astronaut conducting a spacewalk in extremely dusty planetary environments. Incorporated into that second skin would be electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers to enhance human strength and stamina.


The only problem I see is that this reads almost like they're still in the "hey whouldn't it be neat if" stage. I didn't see anything that forcasted when a prototype could be built.

Doodler
2005-Jan-26, 07:41 PM
I'd say bad call on a couple counts.

1) What about this stuff prevents ultralow pressure from inflating it like chewing gum and popping?

2) Not much on thermal insulation.

3) How durable is it? Can it be worn under clothing? If it sticks and adheres to skin, what keeps it from being a dust/dirt magnet in the open on Mars? What's the tensile strength like? If its tough enough to be abused outside, how difficult is it to remove? How much can you take with you? Spray on stuff is disposable. Suits are reusable. Suddenly you're ability to egress is limited by your supply of suit-stuff.

4) Biodegradable? Gee kids, doesn't that require a biosphere?


:roll:

John Kierein
2005-Jan-26, 08:14 PM
I worked in the early days of Gemini. One of the McDonnell Aircraft guys was looking at something similar - a fairly open-weave skintight cloth to give the astronauts on EVA better flexibility. They would've still needed a diving bell-like helmet coming down over the chest. Considered too risky in those days and it never got to a testing phase. Analysis said the skin wouldn't boil away or anything.

joema
2005-Jan-26, 08:31 PM
...I didn't see anything that forcasted when a prototype could be built...
This type of suit is called a mechanical counter pressure suit. Versions of it called capstan partial pressure suits have been used for 50 years. The new Bio-Suit being studied at MIT is merely a further development of this. Here's a picture of one from many years ago:

http://tinyurl.com/5mnjw

The old partial pressure suits weren't designed to work in a total vacuum, just extremely high altitude. But they'd probably keep someone alive in a total vacuum for a few hours.

NASA developed more sophisticated versions that worked (and were tested) in a vacuum chamber. It was called the Space Activity Suit. It was essentially an elastic leotard. They worked pretty well but had a few problems.

Advantages: much better mobility than current full pressure suits, you don't die from a suit puncture, easier temperature control, lighter weight.

Disadvantages: difficult to put on, some minor (but probably resolved) problems with skin swelling.

Here's a large PDF document with information on the new Bio-Suit, plus pictures of the old Space Activity Suit being tested in a vacuum chamber.

http://paperairplane.mit.edu/16.423J/Space/SBE/eva/NIAC_PhaseII_Nov2003_FINAL.pdf

The original NASA work is documented in these papers. Not sure where to find them.

"Development of a Space Activity Suit." NASA CR-1892, 1971, by Annis and Webb

"The Space Activity Suit: and Elastic Leotard for Extravehicular Activity," Webb, Paul, Aerospace Medicine, 39:376-383.

John Kierein
2005-Jan-26, 09:37 PM
SPace Elastic Eva Donned Outfit became Speedo.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Jan-26, 10:01 PM
SPace Elastic Eva Donned Outfit became Speedo.Are you saying that's the origin of the brand name? I checked the Speedo website and it said the name was introduced in 1928. (I can't give you a direct link because it's a Flash site, but if you go to speedo.com you can find the brand history.)

Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-26, 10:10 PM
...I didn't see anything that forcasted when a prototype could be built...
This type of suit is called a mechanical counter pressure suit. Versions of it called capstan partial pressure suits have been used for 50 years. The new Bio-Suit being studied at MIT is merely a further development of this. Here's a picture of one from many years ago:

http://tinyurl.com/5mnjw


Yeah but with "electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers"? That's where I'm dubious. Last I heard muscle fibers are still in the development arena not ready to be integrated into a suit.

The lack of a target date is what piqued my interest. We'll get it eventually sure, but soon enough to not be the major hangup preventing a Mars mission? Is there any timeframe of the Mars mission anyways or is it still in the "let's go to Mars!" planning stage?

skrap1r0n
2005-Jan-26, 10:10 PM
so what started out as a space suit wound up being the primary garb for the 80's hair bands? Damn you NASA, Damn you all to hell!

TravisM
2005-Jan-27, 02:02 PM
The pdf referenced by joema has an ankle version of that augmented muscle stuff. Not as fanciful as I first thought, actually kinda neat. :)

Sotos
2005-Jan-27, 02:06 PM
Spray-on suit? Didn't Raquel Welch wear one of those in Fantastic Voyage?

Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-27, 02:24 PM
The pdf referenced by joema has an ankle version of that augmented muscle stuff. Not as fanciful as I first thought, actually kinda neat. :)I'll have to try to read it, tinyurl kept dropping out on me when I posted earlier.

John Kierein
2005-Jan-27, 05:21 PM
My SPEEDO acronym is a hoax I made up. Sorta like Gore inventing the internet and NASA inventing teflon.
Didn't the aliens at Roswell wear something like this according to Phillip Corso? His office at the pentagon is probably funding this.
Excuse me, I have to sprayon my muscle suit and get in my muscle car.
Didn't Goldfinger kill a girl by spraying her with gold? Her skin couldn't breathe.

Jorge
2005-Jan-27, 08:59 PM
Didn't Goldfinger kill a girl by spraying her with gold? Her skin couldn't breathe.

i saw something on tv about this not so long ago.

You won't die from it, you don't need your skin to breath, else simply taking a bath would not be nice either.

JohnD
2005-Jan-27, 10:04 PM
All,
A spray-on coating? It would be hilarious!

A fabric suit of this type is apparently feasible - see work quoted above.
But spray on? Presume that the mouth and nose are covered by a mask delivering an oxygen mixture at some pressure - 5psi and 100% O2? Breathing at atmospheric pressure is a balance of dynamic tension between the lungs that tend to collapse and the muscolo-skeletal chest wall, that tends to expand, modulated by muscle action. There must be some gas pressure at the airway, so if the environment pressure is very low, space, Mars, then it will be difficult for the wearer to breath out. They may need an elasticated jacket to add to the tension in the chest wall. Otherwise they will walk about like Shwarzenegger posing and showing his pecs.

Then what about the, er, "other end"? First of all, the sight of people spraying their bottoms with this stuff, or even better spraying other people's bottoms, will have to be Top Secret, else the dignity of the Astronaut Corps will fall to rock, er, bottom.
Will the coating be so hard wearing as to stand up to the buttocks rubbing against each other? And what about the anus? If the coating is impervious to gas, and somehow bridges the anus, then every fart wil be trapped under the coating. More likely the poor shmucks will have unsealed ani, and just fart ALL the time, as higher pressure breathing gas is swallowed and traverses the GI tract.

What about the other orifices? Ears and eyes can be covered by a helmet. But the urinary appuratus? A spray on coating for men would also balloon and give every one a permanent, false erection. I leave the effects for women to your imagination.

So bring on a spray-on coating, the space joke of all time!

John

Doodler
2005-Jan-27, 10:17 PM
All,
A spray-on coating? It would be hilarious!

A fabric suit of this type is apparently feasible - see work quoted above.
But spray on? Presume that the mouth and nose are covered by a mask delivering an oxygen mixture at some pressure - 5psi and 100% O2? Breathing at atmospheric pressure is a balance of dynamic tension between the lungs that tend to collapse and the muscolo-skeletal chest wall, that tends to expand, modulated by muscle action. There must be some gas pressure at the airway, so if the environment pressure is very low, space, Mars, then it will be difficult for the wearer to breath out. They may need an elasticated jacket to add to the tension in the chest wall. Otherwise they will walk about like Shwarzenegger posing and showing his pecs.

Then what about the, er, "other end"? First of all, the sight of people spraying their bottoms with this stuff, or even better spraying other people's bottoms, will have to be Top Secret, else the dignity of the Astronaut Corps will fall to rock, er, bottom.
Will the coating be so hard wearing as to stand up to the buttocks rubbing against each other? And what about the anus? If the coating is impervious to gas, and somehow bridges the anus, then every fart wil be trapped under the coating. More likely the poor shmucks will have unsealed ani, and just fart ALL the time, as higher pressure breathing gas is swallowed and traverses the GI tract.

What about the other orifices? Ears and eyes can be covered by a helmet. But the urinary appuratus? A spray on coating for men would also balloon and give every one a permanent, false erection. I leave the effects for women to your imagination.

So bring on a spray-on coating, the space joke of all time!

John

The chest issue I can't answer, but I'm assuming that you could wear a neoprene, latex or whatever skintight material trunks to protect the external plumbing and associated orafices. As far as passing gas... I'd suppose it wouldn't be the brightest of ideas to do so given that there's no real volume for it to escape into, though trunks might offer some void space to allow for it with mildly increased pressure. In a conventional space suit, I'd suppose if it were to occur (oh gawd, if there's actual data on this, I won't be able to keep a straight face) there's enough volume between the astronaut and the surrounding material to allow for the, ahem, new inclusion.

Evan
2005-Jan-27, 11:26 PM
I have heard that it is a GOOD THING that the sense of smell is greatly impaired when in microgravity. The shuttle and ISS have rather limited volumes of air.

Ilya
2005-Jan-28, 02:03 AM
"Lady Slings the Booze" by Spider Robinson features spray-on (actually "paint-on") body armor -- an incredibly tough outer skin designed to stop high-velocity projectiles, and distribute the impact energy. Eyes, mouth and yes, anus must be skipped when the armor is applied. And there is a VERY gruesome result when a person wearing one is shot into the mouth (think ricochets).

John Kierein
2005-Jan-28, 03:11 PM
It wouldn't provide much radiation protection although this says the current suits don't either.
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/27jan_solarflares.htm

Fortis
2005-Jan-28, 10:27 PM
It's not quite a spray-on spacesuit, but a "strap it to your back" one man re-entry system called MOOSE, developed during the 60s, is almost as alarming. :o
http://www.astronautix.com/craft/moose.htm

man on the moon
2005-Jan-30, 08:59 PM
I'd have to go with doodler, the spray on would probably not be the only thing you wear. For example, I have an underarmour shirt I wear when I go caving or something else in the cold. It helps wick away sweat so I'm not frozen by the evaporation, but it doesn't keep me warm from the atmosphere.

I still have to wear something over it to help insulate. I'm sure a similar material exists that could cover the orifice problem.

Besides, unless all the astronauts are hippies (ie run around buff) they will probably wear something like ski suits or a similar thermal outfit. The spray on is just to counteract the low pressure/vacuum environment, not the other parts of their surroundings.

OK, gotta run. The cave is calling me...

JHotz
2005-Jan-31, 09:34 PM
The blob that covers them and rocket a person to the starship.

skrap1r0n
2005-Jan-31, 09:44 PM
Then what about the, er, "other end"? First of all, the sight of people spraying their bottoms with this stuff, or even better spraying other people's bottoms, will have to be Top Secret, else the dignity of the Astronaut Corps will fall to rock, er, bottom.
Will the coating be so hard wearing as to stand up to the buttocks rubbing against each other? And what about the anus? If the coating is impervious to gas, and somehow bridges the anus, then every fart wil be trapped under the coating. More likely the poor shmucks will have unsealed ani, and just fart ALL the time, as higher pressure breathing gas is swallowed and traverses the GI tract.

This reminds me of that scene in Rocketman when they are sharing an airline and one farts in his suit....

W.F. Tomba
2005-Jan-31, 09:50 PM
The blob that covers them and rocket a person to the starship.
I'm not familiar with Galaxy Quest. Could you describe a little more?

By the way, just as a tip: the subject lines appear in really small, easy-to-miss type on this board, so don't put anything in there that's crucial to understanding your post.

JHotz
2005-Jan-31, 11:01 PM
The blob that covers them and rocket a person to the starship.
I'm not familiar with Galaxy Quest. Could you describe a little more?

By the way, just as a tip: the subject lines appear in really small, easy-to-miss type on this board, so don't put anything in there that's crucial to understanding your post.

Galaxy Quest was a spoof on Star Trek starring Tim Allen and Sigorney Weaver. In the movie this slime would creep up from their feet simultaneously coating and terrorizing them. They would then rocket up to the spaceship and the slim would slide away leaving the “somewhat disoriented”. The movie was quite funny. I would highly recommend it.