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Swiss textiles go to space

Dr Gerst is setting off from the cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, for the six-month long mission at the International Space Station (ISS). He will be responsible for a series of clothing physiology experiments that are expected to shed new light on the interaction between the body, clothing and the climate.

28th May 2014

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Sevelen

Clothing/​Footwear, Medical/Hygiene, Sports/​Outdoor, Transport/​Aerospace

The German ESA astronaut Dr Alexander Gerst takes off from the cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, today bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

During the six-month mission, Dr Gerst will be responsible for almost 40 different experiments including the Spacetex project, which includes clothing physiology experiments out in a weightless environment.

The Spacetex 2014 project team (l. to r.): Eleni Antoniadou (ESA), Dr. Jan Beringer (Hohenstein Institute), Prof. Dr. Hanns- Christian Gunga (Charité), Claudia Philpot (DLR), Hans-Jürgen Hübner (Schoeller Textil AG), Dr. Alexander Gerst (ESA). © Hohenstein

With him on board are functional textiles from the Swiss fabric producer Schoeller Textil AG. It is hoped that the project will shed new light on the interaction between the body, clothing and the climate.

Tests under extreme conditions

The Spacetex research partners from the Hohenstein Institute, Germany, Schoeller Textil AG, Switzerland, Charité, Germany, and DLR, Germany, are expecting unique results from the joint undertaking.

The data obtained may help optimise astronauts' clothing for future space voyages and long-term missions such as the approximately three year long voyage to Mars that is planned for 2030.

Product development

In addition to their potential use in space, space-proven textiles are also of great interest when developing textiles for extreme conditions here on Earth, Schoeller believes.

The International Space Station ISS orbits the Earth at a of 400 kilometres and a speed of 28,000 km/hr. Europe, Japan, Russia, the United States and Canada have been working together on this project since 1998. When the ISS is finished, it will be 100 metres long and 80 metres wide, exactly the same size as a football field. © NASA

For Hans-Jürgen Hübner, Schoeller Textil AG, this is an important reason why the textile manufacturer is involved in this industry-funded research project: “We will feed the findings from the Spacetex project into our product development and optimisation work.”

“Future astronauts will benefit from this work. We’ll also make sure that people here on Earth who push the limits of their physical endurance or have to deliver peak performance in extreme conditions benefit as well.”

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