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Network of Italian textiles creates spacesuit for SMOPS

13 Apr '22
3 min read
Pic: RadiciGroup
Pic: RadiciGroup

A group of companies in the Italian textile industry, headed by RadiciGroup, has created a spacesuit for analogue simulation, designed and engineered in Italy for Space Medicine Operations (SMOPS) Mars mission. This endeavour was promoted and organised by Mars Planet, the Italian chapter of the Mars Society headquartered in the province of Bergamo, under the patronage of the Italian Space Agency.

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, RadiciGroup said in a media release.

The suit meets both aesthetic and performance needs and the double-sided stitching allows for reducing thickness to the minimum and improving mobility and lightness by 30 per cent. The garment has wearable technology pockets designed for optimal usage of space and volume. Furthermore, it has skin contact properties and is designed for maximum comfort and flexible movement due to the elasticity and high breathability of the materials used (nylon, in particular). 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.

RadiciGroup teamed up with major Italian textile companies, such as Eurojersey, and Vagotex, to realise the spacesuit project. 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 realise technicalwear for extreme environmental conditions.

The team led by RadiciGroup contributed to the SMOPS mission project by developing and producing three items of technical wear, featuring high health, comfort, and performance standards, to allow the analogue astronauts to move easily and safely outside the base station, with the support of advanced control, monitoring and communication systems, the media release added.  

Ongoing until April 23, the spacesuits will be used in a series of experiments carried out at the Mars Desert Research Station in the state of Utah, US, that will simulate the life and work conditions mission crews will face on the Martian surface. 

“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. Working on this mission, RadiciGroup was able to capitalise 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,” said Filippo Servalli of Radici InNova, the RadiciGroup research and innovation company.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SF)

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