NASA's been working to improve spacesuits for decades, thinking ahead to tougher missions. Now others are doing it for prize money and making an impact.
An aerospace engineer from Maine, the reigning champion of NASA's Astronaut Glove Challenge, held onto his title Thursday to win first prize in a competition to build a better space glove than those worn by astronauts today.
The two competitors sat side by side, waiting like contestants at a high school science fair. But here, at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville Thursday evening, much more was at stake: $400,000 in total prize money for designing gloves that exceeded the requirements of a NASA astronaut glove.
Peter Homer won $250,000 in NASA's first-ever Astronaut Glove Challenge.
A NASA-sponsored event challenges inventors to create the next astronaut glove.
If it fits like a glove, it may just win the prize. NASA is offering a total of $400,000 to inventors who can make stronger and more dexterous spacesuit gloves Thursday in the second Astronaut Glove Challenge.
This is a story about what it took to compete in and win the 2007 Astronaut Glove Challenge, one of seven competitions organized under NASA's Centennial Challenges program.
In 2007, Peter Homer developed a pair of gloves for a NASA contest — and won $200,000 for his effort. He has since launched Flagsuit LLC, a Southwest Harbor, Maine-based startup developing pressure suits for astronauts that also has application as a medical device.
Flagsuit LLC, a new startup founded by NASA Astronaut Glove Challenge winner Peter Homer, shipped their first commercially produced space suit gloves to Los Angeles based Orbital Outfitters last month under a joint development agreement.
How does one guy in Maine transform a pile of failures sitting on his dining room table into one of the biggest innovations in spacesuit glove technology since the beginning of human space flight?