How will future space suits differ from the current ones? As space is explored, footwear for astronauts is keeping pace. NASA claims their new soft boots are designed for real walking.
Currently, astronauts don’t “walk” in space. They hover and float, or their feet are placed into foot restraints so they don’t drift away. Space suits are somewhat flexible; they can bend at the knees and rotate at the waist. But no nuanced space shuffles or relay races quite yet.
Ever ahead in their thinking, NASA envisions that astronauts will go to Mars one day. With that prospect, they need to be suited up to explore alien terrain on foot or in their vehicles. NASA’s soft boots will take them there.
Photo source: http://www.nasa.gov/missions/shuttle/f_boots.html
Maintaining strong muscles is a big enough challenge on Earth. It is much harder to do in space where there is no gravity.
So, how do astronauts stay fit in space? They can’t simply lift dumbbells. To minimize the physiological effects of microgravity, NASA has equipped the International Space Station (ISS) with specialized fitness equipment:
- COLBERT – a space treadmill
- CEVIS – a stationary bike
- ARED – a device that simulates weightlifting
Astronauts spend up two-and-a-half hours a day working out on the ISS. Even with this regime, those who spend long periods in space return to Earth with muscular atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning, and bone loss that can be difficult to reverse. According to NASA, 180 days in space can decrease:
- muscular strength by 11 to 17 percent
- muscular endurance by 10 percent
- bone mineral density by two to seven percent.
Quoting and photo source:
As a young Canadian boy, Chris Hadfield had dreamt of becoming an astronaut and walking in space. Before realizing this goal, he had to confront his very real fear of danger. Now a retired astronaut, Chris Hadfield reminisces about his experience:
“I was outside on my first spacewalk when suddenly my left eye slammed shut and was in great pain – some substance had leaked into it, and it had gone blind. I thought, ‘Well, maybe that’s why we have two eyes.’ So I kept working, but unfortunately without gravity, tears don’t fall. You just get a bigger and bigger ball of whatever got into your eye mixed with your tears until the surface tension takes it across the bridge of your nose like a tiny waterfall into your other eye. Now I was completely blind outside the spaceship.”
Using a bizarre ‘walking’ strategy, Hadfield had trained for this face-to-face encounter with danger. He offered details at the TED Conference in Vancouver. Check the link below for his recommended training on how to overcome fear.