SmartTex shirt provides data for space missions

Researchers will assess the effects of the space environment on the human cardiovascular system using the new SmartTex shirt. Developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in cooperation with DSI Aerospace Technology, Bielefeld University School of Medicine and textile research partner Hohenstein, SmartTex will use integrated sensors to transfer physiological data from astronauts to Earth via a wireless communication network.

SmartTex will be tested as part of the Wireless Compose-2 (WICO2) project by ESA astronaut Dr Matthias Maurer, who will depart for his six-month “Cosmic Kiss” mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 30, 2021.

The SmartTex Shirt is intended to provide a continuous picture of astronauts vital functions, which will be particularly relevant for future long-range manned space missions to the Moon and Mars. A future transfer of SmartTex technology to fitness and telemedicine applications is expected.

“During the previous Spacetex (2014) and Spacetex2 (2018) projects, we collected valuable data on the interaction of body, clothing and climate under microgravity conditions,” says Dr. Jan Beringer, Senior Scientific Expert of Hohenstein.

The comfort and material information provided by these experiments with ESA astronaut Dr Alexander Gerst were incorporated into the design of the new SmartTex shirt by Hohenstein.

“Dr. Maurer can comfortably wear his tailored shirt during daily work on the ISS. We have used his measurements for development and pattern production. We have also integrated the sensors, data processors and communication modules. in the shirt so that they interfere as little as possible and are always positioned in the right place, regardless of the wearing situation. This is the prerequisite for a reliable measurement of physiological data. “

During the BEAT (Ballistocardiography for Alien Applications and Long-Term Missions) experiment, Maurer will be the first astronaut to wear a t-shirt equipped with sensors that measure his ballistocardiographic data such as pulse and relative blood pressure.

For this purpose, the sensors were calibrated in the research center: envihab of the Institute for Aerospace Medicine DLR in Cologne. Details can also be read about the rate of contraction and times of opening and closing of heart valves, which are normally only accessible by ultrasound or CT scans. To realistically study the effects of the space environment on the human cardiovascular system, Maurer’s ballistocardiographic data will be recorded before, during and after his stay on the ISS.

Wireless Compose-2 (WICO2)

The project was planned and prepared by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and its partners DSI Aerospace Technology, Hohenstein and the University of Bielefeld. The wireless communication network reads the data from the sensors and can determine the position of people and objects in space by the propagation times of the radio pulses. It is also available as a platform for several experiments on the ISS. The data is temporarily stored in the network and read at regular intervals by the astronauts. These data packets are then transferred to Earth via the ISS link and analyzed by the research teams. It can generate its own energy from artificial light sources via photovoltaic cells.

More information on Hohenstein’s aerospace research is available at Hohenstein.US/Aerospace.

With more than 40 offices and laboratories, Hohenstein is an international partner for independent testing, certification and applied research around the human-textile-environment interaction. He develops scientific methods and standards that take into account the user in real life, not just in the laboratory. Through standard or custom testing and interpretation of results, Hohenstein experts solve problems, verify claims, and help partners bring better and safer products to market in a more sustainable way.

Hohenstein is a founding member and a leading provider of the OEKO-TEX service portfolio and is certified by the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC ID # 1058) as an independent third-party laboratory for CPSIA compliance verification.


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