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Spacesuits of the Future Will Be as Flexible as Spidermans

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working towards constructing a space suit that promises to be more flexible allowing astronauts superior mobility when they reach Mars or return to the Moon.

Since Yuri Gagarins time spacesuits have seen scant improvement. They continue to remain the bulky, gas-pressurized outfits of yore, which provide astronauts a bubble of protection in outer space, but restrict mobility.

Now, Dava Newman and her team at MIT are developing a sleek and advanced, spandex and nylon BioSuit that promises to give astronauts a Spiderman like flexibility.

Together with colleague Jeff Hoffman, and a local design firm, Trotti and Associates, Newman is putting finishing touches on her lightweight, skintight suit, which instead of using gas pressurization, which exerts a force on the astronaut's body to protect it from the vacuum of space, relies on mechanical counter-pressure, which involves wrapping tight layers of material around the body.

Apart from the flexibility factor, the BioSuit is also safe compared to a traditional spacesuit.

If a tiny meteorite or other object were to accidentally puncture a traditional spacesuit, the astronaut must return to the space station or home base immediately, before life-threatening decompression occurs. However, with the BioSuit, a small, isolated puncture can be wrapped much like a bandage, and the rest of the suit will be unaffected.

According to Newman, the finished BioSuit could be a hybrid that incorporates some elements of the traditional suits, including a gas-pressured torso section and helmet. An oxygen tank can be attached to the back, she said.

As of now, the MIT researchers are focusing on the legs and arms, which are challenging parts to design.

Key to the design, said Newman, is the patt
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