Sono cominciati i test dei primi prototipi per le tute da utilizzare sul suolo marziano:
North Dakota Researchers Testing Spacesuit For Mars
by Staff Writers
Grand Forks ND (SPX) May 05, 2006
North Dakota researchers began testing a new spacesuit at a rugged Mars-like Badlands site this week in an attempt to interest NASA and other space agencies in the design. Pablo de Leon, an Argentine-born aerospace engineer and veteran space suit designer, managed the project, called the North Dakota Experimental Planetary Space Suite, or NDEPSS.
“A space suit is essentially a self-contained spacecraft,” de Leon said, “but it’s not rocket science to build it. What it takes is a lot of very painstaking work. Really, it’s more of an art than engineering.”
He said a team of UND students fabricated all of the suit’s composite parts by hand, including the molds for components such as the torso, and the precision rings for the joints. The design is a prototype for the next generation of suits NASA will need to return humans to the Moon and Mars. De Leon said the team already has applied for several patents based on the design.
The external material, a bright blue polyester gabardine, is lined with a pre-quilted cotton inner layer. The suit consists of two layers in two pieces - pants and a separate top - all fastened with Velcro so the astronaut inside can exit quickly if necessary.
The project, which has involved students and researchers from five North Dakota institutions - including the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State College of Science, Turtle Mountain Community College, North Dakota State University and Dickinson State University - was funded by a $100,000 NASA Aerospace Workforce Development grant in 2005.
Student astronauts will be testing the suit this weekend by putting it through rigorous paces in the rough Badlands terrain that resembles the rocky surface of Mars, de Leon said.
“This is really a big team effort and the success is a testament to the talented human capital here in North Dakota,” he said. “There really isn’t anything that we can’t accomplish here when we set our minds to it - and we’re really eager and ready to be part of a future national space exploration effort.”