Radici Group, an Italian chemical specialist producing high performance engineering polymers and advanced textile solutions, has established a network of Italian textile specialists to create a spacesuit for analogue Mars missions.
The network, headed by Radici and including Eurojersey, Vagotex and Defra, has designed and engineered the spacesuit for the Space Medicine Operations (SMOPS) Mars mission. This endeavor was entirely produced in Italy, and promoted and organized by Mars Planet, the Italian chapter of the Mars Society headquartered in the province of Bergamo, under the patronage of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
Mars Desert Research Station, Utah, USA, where the spacesuits will be worn for simulations
The SMOPS analogue mission is mainly focused on space medicine. It aims to monitor the health of future astronauts and develop support technologies for the simulation of life in space and planet environments.
The Group supplied the materials to make the suits for the six analogue astronauts participating in the mission and coordinated the development of the technologies needed to realize technical wear for extreme environmental conditions.
From 10 to 23 April, the spacesuits will be used in a series of experiments carried out at the Mars Desert Research Station in the state of Utah, USA, that will simulate the life and work conditions mission crews will face on the Martian surface.
Filippo Servalli, InNova, Radici Group
“By participating in the SMOPS mission, RadiciGroup and the other textile companies involved in the project have had the opportunity to approach the frontier sector of aerospace, thus expanding and strengthening their know-how by experimenting with innovative solutions that may, in the future, be applied in business sectors, such as biomedical or others that require high safety standards,” commented Filippo Servalli of Radici InNova, the Radici Group Research & Innovation company. “Working on this mission, we were able to capitalize on the skills related to the development of personal protective equipment (PPE) acquired during the pandemic and then applied to the industrial sector, taking them to a higher level.”
The team headed by RadiciGroup contributed to the SMOPS mission project by developing and producing three items of technical wear to allow the analogue astronauts to move easily and safely outside the base station, with the support of advanced control, monitoring and communication systems.
Inner layer of he spacesuit for analogue Mars missions
The undergarment set of the spacesuit consists of a long-sleeve shirt and shorts made with nylon warp-knit Sensitive Fabrics from Eurojersey to ensure comfort and breathability. The shirt is equipped with electrical circuitry and sensors designed to measure the vital signs and geospatial parameters of the astronauts. The sensors can be detached, so that the garment can be washed with no risk of damaging the internal circuitry.
Part of the set is also a comfortable flight suit suitable for use during work activities and capable of supporting the analogue astronaut in an environment simulating the Martian atmosphere. Made lighter by eliminating all superstructure, the suit meets both aesthetic and performance needs, as its double-sided stitching allows for reducing thickness to the minimum and improving mobility and lightness by 30%. The garment is completed by wearable technology pockets designed for optimal usage of space and volume.
Furthermore, it has excellent skin contact properties and is designed for maximum comfort and flexible movement, thanks to the elasticity and high breathability of the materials used, mostly nylon. The suit is also dustproof, offers UV protection and ensures good thermal resistance. The latter property is achieved through air trapped in the fabric interstices that flows freely inside a 3D alveolar structure, thus providing a self-regulating body temperature system.
Outer layer of the spacesuit for analogue Mars missions
For the first time, a team of Italian companies has also designed and realized the lower part of an analogue spacesuit, similar to the one used in actual space missions: a protective garment made up of several layers designed for use in extreme environmental conditions and situations. The suit is equipped with all the protection systems typical of a spacesuit, and also has an aerogel layer for further protection and layers of wool and nylon padding for effective thermal insulation.
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