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Empa making Mars suit more comfortable

 An Empa department in St.Gallen and the Austrian Space Forum are developing a prototype for a Mars suit. Empa has been tasked with ensuring the space suit is comfortable. The partners also intend to collaborate on further projects in future.

mars suit
Image Credit: OeWF,Bernhard Kaliauer Design Studio

The Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) is currently developing a prototype for a Mars suit. It will be used in an international Mars mission simulation in the Negev Desert in Israel in 2020. During this, astronauts will test procedures for exploration of the Red Planet.

The OeWF is working together with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) to develop this space suit. Its Laboratory for Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles in St.Gallen will be optimizing wearing comfort and ergonomics. “Empa has developed a broad spectrum of body models and is an internationally recognized specialist for wearing comfort,” commented Empa researcher Simon Annaheim in a press release. Empa is validating the new carrying system of the space suit through a series of tests. Tests conducted so far have shown that this “achieves significantly better ergonomics and load distribution compared to the previous model,” adds Simon Annaheim.

Empa and the OeWF have decided to continue their collaboration in future and optimize suits for astronauts. They signed a corresponding cooperation agreement at the end of April. “Together with the OeWF as the Austrian partner in astronautical space travel, Empa will develop a unique European know-how for the optimization and further development of space suits, which will also play an important role for future Mars missions,” explained Simon Annaheim.

“We will be able to test the efficiency of the heat control system of our prototype under state-of-the-art laboratory conditions. Empa has outstanding expertise when it comes to evaluating such systems,” said Gernot Grömer, Administrative Director of the OeWF.

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