Engineer Dava Newman models the BioSuit space suit next to a poster showing a conventional space suit.
Traditional pressurized space suits, known as extravehicular mobility units, weigh about 300 pounds (135 kilograms) and are fastened together in three sections.
The BioSuit, made mainly of nylon and spandex, is lightweight and allows greater flexibility, Newman said in a statement.
The final prototype may incorporate some elements of the traditional suit, she added, such as a pressurized torso section and a portable oxygen tank on the back.
But the suit's trim, Hollywood-superhero fit will remain, for purposes of function if not fashion, she said.
"We really must design for greater mobility and enhanced human capability," she said.
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Photograph by Donna Coveney/MIT