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October 18, 2010

With support from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts and Trotti & Assoc. Inc., Cambridge, Mass., the BioSuit was developed to provide a ‘second skin’ capability for astronaut performance. Processes such as electrospinning and melt-blowing have been used to develop fibers for the suit. A current mockup uses nylon, spandex and urethane layers with varied properties and electronics incorporated into the suit and helmet materials that can have “smart textile” functions relating to physiology (thermal comfort), communications and spatial orientation. Space suit research can lead to improvements in the quality of life here on earth, too, through advances in orthotics that can help children with cerebral palsy and ‘smart orthoses’ for stroke patients.

Dava J. Newman is Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at MIT She assisted NASA in developing the Bio-Suit.

Take the MBTA red line to the Kendall/MIT stop. Follow Main Street west to Ames Street, turn left, and walk one block. Ames Street has limited on-street parking. Visitors may park in MIT campus lots after 5PM. (The Hayward Lot is on Hayward Street, off of Amherst Street.)