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July/August 2015

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Knitting / Apparel

Hohenstein To Test Textiles In Outer Space

The Hohenstein Institute, Germany, is leading a research group that will send performance textiles to the International Space Station to undergo experiments conducted in gravity-free conditions. The research is part of Spacetex, a joint project among Hohenstein; the Charité medical school in Berlin; performance fabric producer Schoeller Textil AG, Switzerland; the German Aerospace Center (DLR); and the European Space Agency (ESA). The project is approved by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA).

Spacetex is the first clothing physiology experiment to be conducted in a gravity-free environment. Researchers hope to gather information on the interaction between body, clothing and climate, enabling scientists and fabric makers to optimize astronauts’ clothing for future space travel and long-term missions, and also to optimize textiles for performance in extreme conditions on Earth.

“The opportunity to study clothing physiology in space will give us insights that are hard to capture otherwise,” said Jan Beringer, Ph.D., Hohenstein. “The absence of gravity affects everything from the moisture wicking and drying time physics to the body’s thermoregulatory process during exertion to even how clothing smells after use. Comfort is defined completely differently under these conditions.”

Beringer and Hanns-Christian Gunga, Ph.D., of Charité’s Center for Space Medicine, measured ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, Ph.D.’s performance on Earth while wearing workout apparel containing a Schoeller polyester fabric system and also while wearing cotton apparel. Gerst will repeat the tests while at the International Space Station and report his findings.
His garments will be returned to Earth for comparison and evaluation.

May/June 2014