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A completely new design of space suit called the 'BioSuit' is now being developed for use on the moon or Mars. It is designed to provide pressure on the body without using the artificial atmosphere of a traditional space suit. The space suits astronauts have been using for the past 40 years have successfully provided enough protection to keep them alive outside the Earth’s atmosphere.The problem is, the gas-pressurized suits don’t allow the astronauts to move around freely.

The new suit looks more like a Spiderman’s outfit than the heavy, bulky space suits that are still used now. It’s more flexible and will allow astronauts to walk, run or even climb mountains; all completely impossible in standard suits. The BioSuit could be ready by the time an expedition to Mars is launched possibly in about ten years.

How does the BioSuit work?

Older bulky space suits

The older, more bulky suits weigh about 22 stone. Imagine carrying that amount of weight around? The new suit is made out of much lighter spandex and nylon. Instead of using gas pressurisation to protect the astronaught, the new suits uses mechanical counter-pressure. This is a system of wrapping tight layers of material around the body to protect it from the vacuum of space. The new suit does use one or two features of the old suits: a gas-pressured torso section and a helmet. An oxygen tank can also be attached to the back.

The key to the design is the pattern of lines on the suit. These are like the muscles on the legs that don't extend when you move your leg. These lines are mimiced in the new suit and they provide a stiff "skeleton" of structural support while allowing the astronaut to move around freely.

Staying in shape

There are even plans to incorporate electrically operated artificial muscle fibres within the suit to increase human strength and stamina. Today about 80 per cent of an astronaut’s energy is used up just moving the suit around. With a bit of luck the future for astronauts will by sleek, shiny and clingy. Bring on the sexy space suit!