Engineer Dava Newman displays a prototype of the BioSuit, a next-generation space suit designed by a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Though made with conventional nylon and spandex, the suit is reinforced with a "skeleton" of supports sewn into the fabric.
The drive to design a flexible and more comfortable space suit was inspired by the work of Paul Webb, a physician who proposed a lightweight "space activity suit" in the late 1960s, Newman said in a press statment.
Though NASA discontinued Webb's research in the early '70s, the BioSuit project, which was originally funded by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, could finish what he started, Newman said.
"Dr. Webb had a great idea before its time. We're building on that work to try to make it feasible," she said.
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Photograph by Donna Coveney/MIT