he brilliant minds at NASA are at it again with a futuristic space suit reminiscent of the bad-guy-fighting garb donned by Marvel Comics' Iron Man. The X1, like similar load-bearing exoskeletons, can be "used to assist or inhibit movements of the leg joints," says John Roach at NBC News. This preliminary version of the suit, weighing in at 57 pounds, operates in two modes: Inhibit mode "provides the resistance astronauts need for a workout while idle for months-on-end in a spaceship bound for Mars or doing time on the International Space Station." In reverse mode, the suit assists movement and provides stability, and could be used to help paraplegics walk. (Watch a demonstration below.)
The NASA project, a spin-off of NASA's "Robonaut 2" project (an attempt to send robots into space), is being funded by the Game Changing Development Program, says Jason Mick at Daily Tech, which, unfortunately, could be at risk of mandatory budget cuts. Hopefully the program continues to receive the funding it deserves, as projects like the X1 bring us "one step closer to helping the paralyzed walk and helping astronauts achieve superhuman load-bearing operations" of heroic proportions.
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