The launch of private enterprise into space has taken huge strides in the past year. President Obama is encouraging NASA collaboration with private industry, companies such as SpaceX are sending up rockets, and Boeing is developing a capsule to transport astronauts. Now, space garments are going private as well. Space.com reports on a new space suit designed for private citizens. And apparently, it has flair.
The new space suit, revealed last week in New York City, has a roomy helmet and two gloves designed for dexterity. The highlight of the suit is the gloves, which are comprised of a blue right glove and a black left one. Space suit engineer Nikolay Moiseev of Moscow designed the blue glove, while Brooklyn-based artist and inventor Ted Southern created the black one. Moiseev worked on flexibility, while Southern improved the torque on his glove.
The result was a space suit that thrilled the audience at its debut. The crowd was able to test the gloves on a Rubik's Cube, and many were amazed at the results. As Southern informed the spectators, "In the future, our plan is to actually blend the two and make a low-torque, single-layer, metacarpal glove."
Together, Moiseev and Southern formed Final Frontier Design, and they recently took second prize and $100,000 in the 2009 NASA astronaut glove challenge. They hope to create a space suit that can be worn during launch and re-entry. The space suit has additional features, such as an easy zip-front entry and a three-step locking system for the gloves.
If Final Frontier Design’s creation goes into space, it will join a long line of innovative space suits. Early space suit research showed that the human skin has the best qualities for space travel, as it is “has very good water retention characteristics, almost no gas permeability, and high tensile strength, while automatically controlling heat retention though perspiration.” However, it is obviously not pressurized or ready for the vacuum of space. If the properties of human skin prove to be the best model, it's likely that future innovators will find a way to mimic it.
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