Image: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet testing Skinsuit in weightlessness

March 19, 2014
Credit: CNES/Novespace, 2014

Astronauts have been known to grow by up to 7 cm as their spines lengthen in weightlessness. As a result, many suffer from backache during their missions. ESA is supporting the development of a suit designed to combat the lack of gravity effects by squeezing the body from the shoulders to the feet with a similar force to that felt on Earth.

Each Skinsuit is tailor-made for its wearer with a bidirectional weave. The suits need to fit tightly but comfortable, while creating the right amount of force in the right places.

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet tested his Skinsuit on a parabolic flight in March. Tilted at 45°, an Airbus offers up to 20 seconds of at each apex of its rollercoaster ride.

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will be the first astronaut to evaluate the Skinsuit in space when he leaves for the International Space Station next year. Thomas will follow Andreas to the orbiting laboratory in 2016.

ESA's Space Medicine Office is working with the universities of Kings College and University College in London, England, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, to test the prototypes.

Explore further: Underwater astronaut on the Moon

Related Stories

Underwater astronaut on the Moon

September 12, 2013

ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy and ESA astronaut instructor Hervé Stevenin slipped into the roles of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin last week for an underwater simulation of the historic mission to the Moon.

Image: 1983 ESA Spacelab sled experiment

November 27, 2013

A test subject sitting on Sled, an ESA experiment launched on Spacelab-1 on 28 November 1983. Sled investigated space sickness by monitoring eye movement as the seat moved horizontally and tilted while cold or hot air was ...

Suit up for Skinsuit

January 13, 2014

The Space Medicine Office of ESA's European Astronaut Centre is managing a project that could help astronauts overcome back problems in space, simply by wearing a high-tech tight-fitting 'skinsuit'.

ESA image: Team spirit

February 12, 2014

Spaceflight is all about teamwork. From the five space agencies that build and maintain the International Space Station to the mission control centres on Earth and the European, Japanese, American and Russian astronauts who ...

Recommended for you

Blue skies, frozen water detected on Pluto

October 8, 2015

Pluto has blue skies and patches of frozen water, according to the latest data out Thursday from NASA's unmanned New Horizons probe, which made a historic flyby of the dwarf planet in July.

How to prepare for Mars? NASA consults Navy sub force

October 5, 2015

As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it's tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.