Sleek new spacesuit design

MIT aeronatuics professor Dava Newman designed this new spacesuit that's far sleeker and lightweight than today's bulky gas-pressurized outfits work by today's astronauts. Instead of gas pressurization, the new prototype BioSuit employs "mechanical counter-pressure" in the form of skin-tight layers wrapped around the body. The BioSuit looks very 60s mod to me, probably because it was influenced by ideas of that era for a "space activity suit."

From the MIT News Office:


Traditional bulky spacesuits "do not afford the mobility and locomotion capability that astronauts need for partial gravity exploration missions. We really must design for greater mobility and enhanced human and robotic capability," Newman says…

Key to (the MIT) design is the pattern of lines on the suit, which correspond to lines of non-extension (lines on the skin that don't extend when you move your leg). Those lines provide a stiff "skeleton" of structural support, while providing maximal mobility.

The suits could also help astronauts stay fit during the six-month journey to Mars. Studies have shown that astronauts lose up to 40 percent of their muscle strength in space, but the new outfits could be designed to offer varying resistance levels, allowing the astronauts to exercise against the suits during a long flight to Mars.