March 24, 2009

Japanese Astronaut Tests Stay-fresh Clothing

Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to become a crewmember of the International Space Station, is testing a new line of clothing that stays clean and odor-free for more than a week of continuous wear.

Wakata received the new wardrobe from Yoshiko Taya, who designed them to kill bacteria, absorb water, insulate the body and dry quickly.

Taya's apparel, called J-Ware, could effectively reduce the necessary amount of clothing be carried into space during missions. Carrying heavy cargo such as clothing into space can be costly.

"The other astronauts become very sweaty, but he doesn't have any sweat. He didn't need to hang his clothes to dry," Koji Yanagawa, an official with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, told AFP.

JAXA also plans to make J-Ware available to NASA and other agencies. There are also plans to develop a commercial line.

Wakata said the clothes appear to be doing what they were designed to do.

"Nobody has complained, so I think it's so far, so good," Wakata said.

During his stay at the orbiting outpost, Wakata is performing 16 activity challenges chosen by JAXA from a list of 1,597 suggested activities from hundreds of people.

Tasks include, trying to ride on a fling carpet in space, folding clothes, doing push-ups and backflips and arm-wrestling a fellow astronaut in space.


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