By Rachel Bellisle
The Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit (GLCS or “Skinsuit”) is an intravehicular activity suit for astronauts that has been developed to simulate some of the effects of Earth gravity. The GLCS produces a static load from the shoulders to the feet with elastic material in the form of a skin-tight wearable suit , (Figure 1). The GLCS is a potential spaceflight countermeasure, which aims to mitigate physiological effects of microgravity, including spinal elongation, muscle atrophy, and sensorimotor changes. This wearable system is intended to supplement exercise during future missions to the moon and Mars (where current exercise equipment may be too large and bulky for the small spacecraft) and to further attenuate microgravity-induced physiological effects in current ISS mission scenarios.
Several GLCS versions have been developed over the past decade with various design modifications (Figure 2). Previous GLCS experiments, led by MIT and/or international collaborators, have included ground experiments, parabolic flights, International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 44S (Sep 2015, 10 days) and ISS Expedition 50/51 (Oct 2016 to Jun 2017) . These previous studies have primarily studied operational feasibility, loading magnitude, and spinal elongation attenuation . Current work at MIT aims to investigate the GLCS as a countermeasure for muscle atrophy and sensorimotor deterioration .
This work aims to characterize the function and physiological effects of the GLCS. Overall, the proposed work would support the goal of the GLCS project in enabling humans to adapt to multiple levels of gravity, bringing us one step closer to long-term space habitation.