Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit

The Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit is a device for countering the effects of microgravity during space flight. The suit is made of elastic and is cut too short for the person wearing it; it has stirrups that wrap around the feet. When the wearer stretches, it exercises the muscles in a manner similar to gravity.


(Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit)

Despite the use of several countermeasures, significant physiological deconditioning still occurs during long duration spaceflight. Bone loss – primarily due to the absence of loading in microgravity – is perhaps the greatest challenge to resolve.

This paper describes a conceptual Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit (GLCS) that induces loading on the body to mimic standing and – when integrated with other countermeasures – exercising on Earth. Comfort, mobility and other operational issues were explored during a pilot study carried out in parabolic flight for prototype suits worn by three subjects. Compared to the 1- or 2-stage Russian Pingvin Suits, the elastic mesh of the GLCS can create a loading regime that gradually increases in hundreds of stages from the shoulders to the feet, thereby reproducing the weight-bearing regime normally imparted by gravity with much higher resolution.

Modelling shows that the skinsuit requires less than 10 mmHg (1.3 kPa) of compression for three subjects of varied gender, height and mass. Negligible mobility restriction and excellent comfort properties were found during the parabolic flights, which suggests that crewmembers should be able to work normally, exercise or sleep while wearing the suit. The suit may also serve as a practical 1 g harness for exercise countermeasures and vibration applications to improve dynamic loading.

An anonymous reader points out that this is exactly the same idea as that proposed by C.J. Cherryh in her 1991 novel Heavy Time:

...bones and muscles started realizing that the stimsuits you worked in, the spin cylinders you slept in and the pills you took like candy didn't entirely make up for weeks of weightlessness...

The car stopped. He got out, on legs that felt tired even under 8's low gravity, weary of fighting the stimsuit's elastic...
(Read more about Cherryh's stimsuit)

Science fiction writers have been helping to visualize solutions to space travel problems; Murray Leinster described the problem of muscle loss due to microgravity in his 1953 novel Space Tug; see his gravity-simulator harness.

From A gravity loading countermeasure skinsuit via Next Big Future; thanks to an anonymous reader for the tip and the reference for this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/28/2010)

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