The MIT Suit
Dr. Dava Newman's team at MIT has done some fascinating work on counter-pressure suits funded by NASA's Institute of Advanced Concepts. At the ICES conference July 9-12 in Chicago, they (and everyone else) were surprised to see someone else show up with a completed suit. Perhaps as a reaction, Monday they released photos of their suit mockup. That is not a pressurised helmet, but it looks cool. There is no air line and no backpack; she must be very hot in there. They envision this suit being ready in 10 years.
Scott Horowitz promised that NASA will issure RFP's for a next generation suit this Summer and make a decision in 2008. NASA wants a single suit system for Low Earth Orbit Access, EVA and planetary EVA's. Current thinking envisions a soft pressure garment with removable outer layers. Like the Shuttle, that system could be in use for 25 years. If a better suit takes 10 years to develop. that may be too late. Dr. Newman's work is valuable and could use more funding.
This Friday July 20 is the anniversary of the first Moon landing. That day you will see a counter-pressure suit displayed in a setting far more suited to working lunar hardware.