December 21, 2005
Japan Space Agency May Develop Space Suit
TOKYO -- Japan's space agency said Wednesday it is considering developing its own space suit that can be used in future manned space projects.
The agency, JAXA, wants to develop space suits that are lighter than current models produced by the United States and Russia and with upgraded functions, agency spokesman Masayuki Kono said.
JAXA will decide early next year whether to pursue the project, he said.
Kono said the agency hopes to use a domestically made space suit as part of the International Space Station project around 2010. Japan plans to launch its first manned space laboratory Kibo for the ISS.
Japan is seeking to expand its space exploration program. Earlier this year, JAXA said it would send its first astronauts into space and set up a base on the moon by 2025.
A space suit is primarily designed to protect astronauts from low temperatures, space radiation and meteoric stones during exploration outside the space craft. JAXA plans to reduce its weight by about 44 pounds from the current 264 pounds, Kyodo News agency reported.
JAXA also wants to upgrade built-in life support mechanisms to allow continuous use of a suit up to a week, and hopes to use it to participate in the U.S. moon exploration project planned for 2018, Kyodo said.
An upgraded space suit would involve heat resistance and anti-radiation technology, bulletproof materials and robot mechanisms, Kyodo said.