Peter Homer Wins NASA’s Challenge for Improved Astronaut Gloves
WASHINGTON — On Thursday, May 3, Peter Homer of Southwest Harbor, Maine, won $200,000 from NASA for his entry in the Astronaut Glove Challenge. The competition was one of NASA’s seven Centennial Challenges and took place May 2-3 at the New England Air Museum at Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Conn.
To win the prize, Homer’s glove design performed better overall than the competition in tests that rated the glove’s strength, flexibility and comfort. Homer’s innovations in finger dexterity could enhance NASA’s future astronaut gloves. Competitors from Saint Cloud, Fla., Yonkers, N.Y., Logan, Utah, and New York also registered for the challenge.
When performing a space walk, NASA astronauts use their hands as their primary way to move around and complete tasks. After many hours of working inside the pressurized gloves, the force required by the astronauts to move their fingers and wrists back and forth repeatedly often results in blisters, abrasions and damaged fingernails. New technologies would reduce discomfort and make the astronauts’ jobs easier and safer.
During this same competition, $50,000 was offered for Mechanical Counter- Pressure gloves, but there were no entries in this category.
At no cost to NASA, Volanz Aerospace, Inc., Owings, Md., administered the challenge. Hamilton Sundstrand of Windsor Locks, Conn., NASA’s prime contractor for the current space suit, and ILC Dover of Frederica, Del., were sponsors of the contest.
The Astronaut Glove Challenge will be conducted again next year. With the unclaimed $50,000 from the 2007 contest, the award for the 2008 competition will increase from $350,000 to $400,000.
Centennial Challenges, an element of NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, promotes technical innovation through prize competitions to make revolutionary advances to support the Vision for Space Exploration and NASA goals. For more information about the Innovative Partnerships Program and Centennial Challenges, visit:
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David E. Steitz/Stephanie Schierholz
Volanz Aerospace, Inc., Owings, Md.