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U of M students work with NASA on new space suit

Students from the University of Minnesota are hoping to help make a leotard-style spacesuit, which NASA has been trying to develop for decades.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Saturday marks 50 years since Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon. It changed the world's view on space exploration and created a moment many will never forget.

Since that time, there hasn't been any major change in spacesuit technology. When you think of an astronaut, you think of someone in that big, bubbly space suit. It's the thing that keeps astronauts alive.

But it's the thing that Brad Holschuh and his students at the University of Minnesota are trying to fix.

"Astronuants in the 1960s when they went to the moon up to astronauts up today orbiting around earth, the biggest complaint that they have is how difficult it is to move once they're inside the suit.," said Brad Holschuh, an Assistant Professor of Apparel Design at the U of M's College of Design. He also co-direct's the university's Wearable Technology Lab.

Holschuh says NASA has been working on a leotard-style spacesuit for decades.One of the challenges students at the U of M are facing is creating a textile that changes its shape.

"This leotard in order to keep you alive needs to be ten times tighter than a medical grade compression stocking," said Holschuh.

Students like J. Walter Lee and Crystal Compton worked with NASA last year at its Johnson Space Center in Houston to create wearable technology for space suits and to gain better insight from them about the issues they face in space.

"I'm really happy every day to be working on this stuff," said Compton. 

The space leotard is likely years away, but a push for more space travel and getting to Mars, maybe it'll happen with a little help from Minnesota.

"These problems are only going to get harder and they need technology and apparel solutions to solve them," said Holschuh.

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