June 26th, 2014
Portland State, home to open source rockets and DIY space suits
Sure sure. Elon Musk is rethinking space travel. But what’s he going to wear up there? Maybe he could sport a little Portland fashion? Because you know, we do win Project Runway and we do have someone who has figured out a do-it-yourself space suit here.
Yep. It would only make sense that the town and school that’s home to an amazing open source rocket program would also be home to a professor exploring handmade space apparel, as well. Because Portland. Duh.
In 2008, Cameron Smith, an anthropology professor at Portland State University in Oregon, decided to build a space suit. He designed the Mark I to protect himself on a high-altitude balloon ride, and so far it’s passed tests in a hypobaric chamber and underwater. Last year, independent space program Copenhagen Suborbitals offered him a potential path to the stratosphere (between about 30,000 and 165,000 feet above Earth). Smith will make a suit for the Danish group this summer, and they’ll help him build a helium balloon craft. Traditional pressure garments can cost upwards of $30,000. Smith’s materials set him back about $2,000, thanks to creative use of junk parts and spare kitchenware. “We’re trying to make it easier for people to get into space,” he says.
Okay. Granted. It’s not exactly a space suit. But it’s close. And there’s still a lot of room in that budget to figure out how to make it even better.
For information, read up on Cameron Smith and his DIY spacesuit in Popular Science.