Innovative Spacesuit Prototype Uses Composites to Help Detect Damage

Teijin Aramid’s Twaron® is being used by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG) to develop a prototype spacesuit layer with a damage-detection system.

The space industry must deal with the dangers inherent from debris in space damaging spacesuits. Not only do astronauts need to be protected from damage to the spacesuits, but they also need to be alerted to the damage before the air is released or the wearer is injured.

The International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), a collaboration between several space agencies worldwide including NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), is working with several partners to design a lighter, more comfortable spacesuit that is not only damage-resistant but will also alert the wearer that damage has occurred.

“This collaborative, innovative project aligns perfectly with Teijin Aramid’s values,” said Remko Pol, global market manager aerospace for Teijin. “So, when the ILEWG contacted us in February 2020 to see whether Twaron®’s ballistic and conductive properties could help them in their mission, we were on board straight away!”

About 150 patches of Twaron fabric will be used in the suit layer and each patch will send electrical signals to a built-in computing unit if damage is detected, quickly pointing the wearer to the impacted area.

“We supplied fabric solutions made from our finest filament yarn, Twaron Ultra Micro, for this prototype because they enable a high protection-to-comfort ratio,” Maria Persson, senior R&D textile expert at Teijin explained. “What’s more, by leveraging Twaron’s high-performance properties alongside conductive yarn to create a smart textile solution, the ILEWG may be able to reduce the number of protective layers required, for even greater comfort and mobility.”

The prototype suit layer will soon be ready for testing. Jamal Ageli, spacesuit design coordinator for ILEWG, said, “To test the suit, astronauts will simulate space living for two weeks, assessing the suit’s comfort, performance, and power supply.”

“I’m really looking forward to continuing our partnership with Teijin Aramid, and I hope it lasts for a long time,” added Mr. Ageli. “We are still in the earliest stages of this development, but we’re reaching for the moon – so stay tuned to find out more!”

» Author: Kimberly Hoodin

» Publication Date: 16/04/2020

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 737882.


            

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