A special backpack gives moonwalkers extra arms

A special backpack gives moonwalkers extra arms

Credit: MIT

It has been more than half a century since astronauts walked on the moon. That will change in a few years. Humans will land on the moon again in 2026 at the earliest.

Half a century later, the technology to be used for this purpose has improved dramatically. One of the problems with the old spacesuits used on the Moon is that it is difficult to get up after falling. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a solution to this problem.

Backpack

They are developing so-called extra robot limbs, or “super limbs.” These are two pairs of robotic limbs that can be attached to an astronaut suit. The system consists of two robotic arms attached to a backpack containing the astronaut’s life support system. When an astronaut falls, he can use his arms to get back up.

The researchers have already built a prototype. This consists of a pair of robot arms and a system to control them. A series of preliminary tests showed that it was easier to get up from a sitting or lying position using the arms. Subjects were fitted with restrictive clothing that mimicked a spacesuit.

According to the researchers, superlimbs would be particularly useful in building a lunar base. NASA wants to do this in the next decade. They point out that during previous lunar missions, astronauts fell mainly when they were performing tasks on the lunar surface.

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