Operational and Technical Evaluation of Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit (Skinsuit) - 10.04.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Floating in space, astronauts’ bodies adapt to weightlessness in ways that are not always wanted. Bone and muscle waste away as they have less work to do without gravity. The Skinsuit is a tailor-made overall with a bi-directional weave specially designed to counteract the lack of gravity by squeezing the body from the shoulders, to the feet, with a similar force to that felt on Earth.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by David A. Green, Simon N. Evetts, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Erasmus Experiment Archive.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Skinsuit

Principal Investigator(s)
David A. Green, King's College, London, England
Simon N. Evetts, Ph.D., European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
J. Scott, Wyle GmbH, Germany
P. Taylor, United Kingdom
H. Rosado, UCL School of Pharmacy & NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom
J. Attias, King’s College London Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences (CHAPS), United Kingdom
P. Carvil, King’s College London Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences (CHAPS), United Kingdom
D. J. Newman, MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, Cambridge, MA, United States
D. Kendrick, MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, Cambridge, MA, United States
J. Waldie, RMIT University School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing, Melbourne, Australia
T. Irawan, ESA-EAC European Astronaut Centre, Germany
Frits De Jong, European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany

Developer(s)
European Space Agency (ESA), Noordwijk, Netherlands

Sponsoring Space Agency
European Space Agency (ESA)

Sponsoring Organization
European Space Agency

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - March 2016; September 2016 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned
43/44,45/46,49/50,51/52

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

Astronauts have been known to grow by up to 7 cm as their spines lengthen in weightlessness. Many astronauts suffer from backache during their missions as a result. Back on Earth they need to take care as they exercise their bodies into shape because after the mission an astronaut has four times more chance of suffering a slipped disc than usual.
 
Specific Goals
Perform an Operational and Technical Evaluation of the Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit in microgravity to:
  1. Evaluate the efficacy of Skinsuit in reducing/preventing low back pain and preventing spine elongation.
  2. Measure the Gz load provided by Skinsuit on the International Space Station.
  3. Evaluate operational considerations, in particular hygiene/microbiology, comfort, thermoregulation, donning/doffing, impingement and range of motion to prepare for Long Duration Missions.
  4. Evaluate the effect of wearing Skinsuit while exercising.
 
Long-Term Objectives
Development of a passive countermeasure to:
  1. Prevent spine elongation during flight to help counteract the post-flight risk of back injury and alleviate the low back pain felt by astronauts in-flight.
  2. Increase understanding of the prevention of low back pain and reduction of risk of post-mission back injury in order to translate spaceflight knowledge and experience to the field of terrestrial healthcare.

Description
Information Pending

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Applications

Space Applications
Wearing a high-tech tight-fitting ‘skinsuit’ could help astronauts overcome back problems in space. When floating in space, astronauts’ bodies adapt to weightlessness in ways that are not always wanted. Bone and muscle waste away as they have less work to do without gravity.

Earth Applications
The Skinsuit has potential use on Earth by helping the elderly and many people with lower-back problems. Additionally, Skinsuit technology could improve the support garments that are currently used for people with conditions such as cerebral palsy.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
During the SDM the crew member wears Skinsuit on Flight Days (FD) 2–5, donning it in the morning and doffing it in the evening. Immediately before donning and doffing on each day, the crew member has his stature measured and completes a short questionnaire, and the +Gz load achieved by Skinsuit is recorded in different postures (using NASA’s ‘ForceShoe’ force measurement system) with the postures documented in photographs. On FD2 and FD5, microbiological samples are taken from Skinsuit, and on Day 5 only; 20 min of CEVIS exercise will be performed on two occasions, once with and once without Skinsuit. On FD 6–9, the crew member does not wear Skinsuit, but has his stature measured and completes the questionnaire.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Results Publications

    Stabler RA, Rosado H, Doyle R, Negus D, Carvil PA, Kristjansson JG, Green DA, Franco-Cendejas R, Davies C, Mogensen A, Scott J, Taylor PW.  Impact of the Mk VI SkinSuit on skin microbiota of terrestrial volunteers and an International Space Station-bound astronaut. npj Microgravity. 2017 September 7; 3(1): 23. DOI: 10.1038/s41526-017-0029-5. PMID: 28894789.

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

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Related Websites
Additional Skinsuit information from ESA's Erasmus Experiment Archive

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Imagery

image
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet testing Skinsuit in weightlessness on a parabolic flight.  Image courtesy of CNES/Novespace, 2014.

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