Bonnie Dunbar knows a thing or two about space suits – the retired NASA astronaut flew on five space shuttle missions between 1985 and 1998.
Back here on Earth, she’s working on making better space suits for astronauts of the future. With a grant from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program, Dunbar and her Texas A&M University lab are working to develop technology to create custom-fittiing space suits through full-body scanning. It sounds like sci-fi technology, but if it’s found to be feasible, the suits could be available for Mars missions within the coming decades – or possibly even for lunar missions scheduled during the coming decade.
Bonnie Dunbar is professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University. She spoke with the Standard about what she describes as a “spacecraft that is molded around your body”
Highlights from this segment:
–Dunbar says training in a space suit during her time as an astronaut taught her what makes mobility easier, and what makes it more difficult, when wearing a space suit. One reason space suits are not maneuverable is that the suits must be inflated in the vacuum of space.
– Space suits of the past came in just a few sizes. Dunbar wants to design suits that are customized to each astronaut.
– Dunbar describes a suit as a “spacecraft around your body,” because it includes so much technology.
– Technology allows Dunbar to scan a human body to get measurements needed to make a custom space suit. The next step is to turn those measurements into an actual “spacecraft.”