Tech

These spacesuits look like the stuff of Hollywood sci-fi, but they’re real

A French designer has proposed spacesuit prototypes for the crew of Elon Musk’s SpaceX mission to Mars, and they are out of this world.

Elon Musk, the famous billionaire and soon-to-be-ruler of the world announced his plans to colonise the red planet in a keynote speech last September at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the summit, the SpaceX founder explained to an enthusiastic and awed crowd his ambitious design for manned missions to Mars, which he stated could start as soon as 2022.

French designer Clement Balavoine recently proposed a suit for the SpaceX mission, and it’s so cool it could put those in Ridley Scott’s The Martian to shame. Aside from being stylish as hell, the spacesuits are equipped with myriad features specially designed to protect the human body from the perils of space travel.

In space, human bones become fragile and muscles lose their mass due to the extremely low gravity. To minimise the damage to the traveller’s body during that 80 to 150 day trip to Mars, Balavoine’s suit has flexible protective sections that function as an exoskeleton for extra support for the spine and other vulnerable areas.

To prevent muscles from weakening, the suit incorporates electroactive fibres in the fabric which emit tiny electric shocks throughout the body. The suit will also function as a health monitor capable of tracking vital signs, body heat and record the wearer’s movements.

Clement Balovoine has previously made waves for introducing 3D tools into the fashion industry. In 2016 he devised a workflow in which catwalk models or customers are 3D scanned and clothes are digitally designed to perfectly fit those meshes. These patterns are then sent to be 3d printed and laser cut, needing actual human intervention only for the final assembly.

Clement studied product design in France and worked in Hong Kong as a designer for the brand United Nude, collaborating with huge industry players like Iris van Herpen and Zaha Hadid.

At the time of this writing, there is no official word from SpaceX about the suits.