Space Gravity Suit received a Global Nomination.
Find a way to adapt common gym tools for a reduced gravity environment and design a workout routine that can minimize bone and muscular loss while being fun and easy to use during a long term mission. In doing so consider constraints regarding weight (equipment should weigh less than 500kg) and dimensions. Consider incorporating virtual reality to simulate a jog through an astronaut’s favorite Earth destinations or incorporate gaming to motivate users.
This project is solving the "Astrocize" challenge
Our solution is an underwear suit which exerts mechanical loads on the astronaut's body through the structural tension of its fiber matrix. This suit behaves as a second skin for the astronaut and helps him eliminate muscular and bone loss and at the same time prevents spine elongation. Also with that suit the astronaut body maintains the positive pressure on the lower part of the body and the neural model of the ground reaction force and, as a result, orthostatic intolerance and gait abnormalities are prevented.
With our Space Gravity Suit astronauts prevent all the above-mentioned problems and minimize the time that is required for their daily exercise. So we do not need to change their training equipment as we save their body just by changing the actual training time and the specific exercises per se. Also with its embodied sensors real data of astronauts body's condition is taken and can be analyzed by NASA Space Station experts in order to give them personalized feedback and propose specific exercises in order to invigorate their body in a more effective way.
Aboard the International Space Station astronauts experience a micro-gravity environment or weightlessness; that is to say that the weight of humans and objects appears to be absent, thanks to the absence of stress and strain normally resulting from externally applied mechanical contact-forces. This weightlessness has adverse effects on the human neural system, cardiovascular system, and musculoskeletal system. Firstly, regarding the neural system, two major problems arise, mainly because of the absence of the Ground reaction force: a confusion of the vestibular system, and a possible deterioration of the neural model of posture and locomotion. Secondly, the main cardiovascular problem that arises, because of a fluid redistribution to the upper body, is an inability to maintain blood pressure towards the lower extremeties. Thus, orthostatic intolerance and hypotension occur upon return to Earth. Last but not least, as a result of the absence of mechanical stresses on muscles and bones, skeletal muscles weaken, bone tissue deteriorates, and the astronaut's spine elongates.
To solve this challenge we decided to apply Biomimicry and we searched for inspiration in Nature. We found that the "exoskeleton of insects adjusts to strain and load by changing thickness, stiffness, and fiber orientation". Moreover, the exoskeleton of insects has three main functions: "Maintain physical integrity; Manage structural forces; Compression". The biomimetic design we came up with is the Space Gravity Suit. The Space Gravity Suit exerts mechanical loads on the astronaut's body, through the structural tension of its fiber matrix, to partially replicate the gravitational stress that would be felt on Earth. We decided that smart adaptive composites could be used as the basic fiber material, since they embody sensor, processor, and effector functions; and they can self-regulate their structure using their effector function based on processed feedback received from their sensor function. Finally, we decided that the micro-geometry of the exoskeleton of insects could provide us with insight regarding the geometry and weave of the Space Gravity Suit. As a first thought, it seems reasonable for the Space Gravity Suit to be composed of two kinds of weave: a dense one, for the body parts; and a light one, in order to enable movement of the joints.
The "Space Gravity Suit" eliminates muscular and bone loss, while at the same time it maintains the positive pressure on the lower body and prevents orthostatic intolerance. Furthermore, Space Gravity Suit maintains the neural model of the ground reaction force and also prevents gait abnormalitis and spine elongation: 1) eliminates back pain 2) eliminates fitting problems with the astronaut's EVA suit. Last but not least, it minimizes exercising time which is of vital importance for astronauts' body shape maintanance and psychology during their space dailylife.
In order to create a sustainable project, we thought about our future plans and strategy we will follow. First of all, we will make the selection of a suitable insect specie to imitate. Moreover we will explore the possibility of embedding electroactive polymers to exert force on the astronaut’s back, during sleep giving solution to a critical problem, and also we will investigate the potential of embedding a range of biomedical sensors for body monitoring. In the commercialization level, now, the Space Gravity Suit will provide future Space Tourists with a time-saving alternative to maintain good physical condition and there is also the possibility that this project will Spin-outs to tackle muscle atrophies and osteoporosis on Earth.
NASA’s Data Resources:
Other Web Resources:
Clement, G., 2011. Space Biology. In: Fundamentals of Space Medicine. 2nd ed. s.l.:Springer Science+Business Media, pp. 45-94
Clement, G., 2011. The Cardio-Vascular System in Space. In: Fundamentals of Space Medicine. 2nd ed. s.l.:Springer Science+Business Media, pp. 143-180.
Clement, G.,2011. The Musculo-Skeletal System in Space. In: Fundamentals of Space Medicine. 2nd ed. s.l.:Springer Science+Business Media, pp. 181-216.
Eckart, P.,1996. The extraterrestrial environment.In: Spaceflight Life Support and Biospherics. 2nd ed. s.l.:Springer Science+ Business Media Dordrecht, pp. 39-78.
Norberg, C., 2013. The space environment. In: C. Norberg, ed. Human Spaceflight and Exploration. s.l.:Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 65-120.