The Bio-Suit is currently on display in the "Power of Making" exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London until 2 January 2012.
The Bio-Suit System stands to revolutionize human space exploration by providing enhanced astronaut extravehicular activity (EVA) locomotion and life support based on the concept of providing a 'second skin' capability for astronaut performance. The novel design concept is realized through symbiotic relationships in the areas of wearable technologies; information systems and evolutionary space systems design; and biomedical breakthroughs in skin replacement and materials. By working at the intersection of engineering; design; medicine; and operations, new emergent capabilities could be achieved.
Left: Prof. Dava Newman modeling a Bio-Suit mockup. Copyright 2005 Volker Steger / Science Photo Library.
The Bio-Suit System would provide life support through mechanical counter-pressure where pressure is applied to the entire body through a tight-fitting suit with a helmet for the head. Wearable technologies will be embedded in the Bio-Suit layers and the outer layer might be recyclable. Hence, images of 'spraying on' the inner layer of the Bio-Suit System emerge, which offers design advantages for extreme, dusty, planetary environments.
Flexible space system design methods are slated to enable adaptation of Bio-Suit hardware and software elements in the context of changing mission requirements. Reliability can be assured through dependence of Bio-Suit layers acting on local needs and conditions through self-repair at localized sites while preserving overall system integrity. The Bio-Suit System is relevant to NASA's strategic plan and stated visionary challenges in the Human Exploration and Development of Space, AeroSpace Technology, and Space Science.
A student fabricating a Bio-Suit leg prototype based on a "lines of non-extension" concept.
Copyright 2005 Volker Steger / Science Photo Library.
On the left, an astronaut on Mars is depicted donning the comfortable elastic Bio-Suit layer (1). The hard torso shell (4) is donned next and seals with couplings at the hips and portable life support system, (5) attaches mechanically to the hard torso shell, and provides gas counter pressure. Gas pressure flows freely into the helmet (2) and down tubes on the elastic bio-suit layer to the gloves and boots (3). The Bio-suit layer is lightweight and easy to don and doff. It is custom fitted to each astronaut using a laser scanning/electrospinlacing process (Natick Soldier Center). Remaining suit elements are simple, functional, interchangeable and easy to maintain and repair.