Cosmonauts may use ‘Antimicrobial’ path to keep space undergarments clean

European Space Agency (ESA)

When spacemen go for spacewalks onboard the International Space Station (ISS), they must share their spacesuits along with the garments worn beneath. Identified as the Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG), it looks like long underclothing, and aids keep the cosmonauts cool and secure. This is when they are out at work at the station. Now, the European Space Agency (ESA) is exploring means to keep the LCVG fresher and more sanitary.

A clean-out-of-the-laundry LCVG cannot be supplied each time to cosmonauts on the ISS. ESA intends to enhance the antimicrobic properties in the garments. This will assist maintain them clean and neat for longer.

The ESA goes on board on a mission known as Biocidal Advanced Coating Technology for Reducing Microbial Activity (BACTeRMA). A report published by ESA cites Malgorzata Holynska the following. Malgorzata is the agency’s materials engineer.

“Spaceflight fabrics, particularly when subject to biological infection – for example, spacesuit underclothing – may cause both engineering and medical dangers during extensive time journeys. We are now examining aspirant materials for exterior spacesuit layers, so this initial technology advancement plan is a valuable complement. Exploring into tiny bacteria-killing particles that may be helpful for all sorts of spaceflight fabrics, as well as spacesuit insides.”

Describing in detail the outfits spacewalkers wear, the ESA says that the lone piece they put on is a (not reusable) “maximum absorbency apparel” diaper. Then they put on their own “thermal comfort undergarment,” after the LCVG, which is worn next to the skin. It combines liquid cooling tubes and gas air circulation in order to retain the wearer cool and comfortable.

On the ISS, cosmonauts wash their hands and bodies with no-rinse washing solutions and dry shampoo. However, washing garments is not feasible since that would necessitate a lot of water, says NASA.

In addition, there are four options as far as cosmonauts’ undergarments are concerned —
  1. Wear it again
  2. Turn it into a shooting star
  3. Grow plants with it
  4. Feed it to bacteria

To prevent biological infection, typically, antimicrobic textiles that utilize silver or copper are used. Though, over time, these metals cause skin inflammation. So, the ESA is requesting the assistance of Vienna Textile Lab, a firm that delivers textile dyes utilizing naturally arising bacteria. “They have special entry to a rare arteriographic compilation. Those microbes generate so-called minor metabolites. These composites are normally colorful, and several display adaptable properties: antimicrobic, antiviral agent and antifungal agent,” says BACTeRMA project scientist. Seda Ozdemir-Fritz of the Austrian Space Forum.

The venture will concentrate on creating fabric finishes with these antimicrobial characteristics. It will also uncover the processed fabrics to sweat and radioactivity to find out how they respond. To replicate circumstances, cosmonauts, confront in space, lunar dust will be put into the mix.

If the plan is effective at arriving at a solution, it can make the splitting of the outfits in space much more congenial and sterile.

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