back to article New sensitive space gloves: NASA spends wad freely

NASA handed out $350,000 in prize money to astronautical haberdashers vying for glory in the space agency's Astronaut Glove Challenge this weekend. Glove Challenge victor Peter Horner reaches into deadly vaccuum. Credit: NASA They said I was mad. Mad! Peter Horner of Maine, a previous Glove Challenge victor, saw off stiff …


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  1. Wokstation

    Does he really need a glove?

    That's clearly Clark Kent in the photograph!

  2. Joe 1


    "It is remarkable that two designers working on their own could create gloves that meet the requirements for spaceflight - a task that normally requires a large team of experts"

    What's truly remarkable is how naive expert NASA engineer Kate Mitchell is with regards to the efficiency of individuals compared to "a large team of experts".

    Perhaps a review of her High School science book would refresh her memory that the truly great discoveries and inventions were almost all made by individuals.

  3. Paul 25

    Telling quote

    "It is remarkable that two designers working on their own could create gloves that meet the requirements for spaceflight - a task that normally requires a large team of experts,"

    That sums up NASA's past problems, and exactly why this sort of approach to some (but not necessarily all) of their technical problems can work so well.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    sensitive space gloves

    Regardless of how 'sensitive' they make the gloves they are useless in working at any task that requires fine manual dexterity. A better solution would be a set of remote manipulators that are remotely controlled by the astronaut. As in key-hole surgery you could scale the movement/ sensitivity up or down depending on the task. The interface could be done through direct surgical inplants to the astronauts nervous system ...

  5. Anonymous John

    "saw off stiff opposition"

    Well, yes. They were supposed to be designing flexible gloves.

  6. Annihilator Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Glove Contest - uninspiring name

    So, should this be called a Glove-Off, or (Right, outside) Glove's Off. Either works for me.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up


    "Regardless of how 'sensitive' they make the gloves they are useless in working at any task that requires fine manual dexterity"

    The driver for this challenge was that current glove design is *very* cumbersome and stiff. This includes simple tasks like doing and undoing fasteners. Astronauts have to fight to get movement, making simple tasks exhausting.

    It is one of the reasons that NASA has repeatedly shied away from *any* proposal that used on orbit assembly except in the simplest of ways. It has been a long known annoyance, but never quite annoyed the right people enough to get them to spend serious money to fix it ($400k does not even get you a DARPA study on miniature weapons).

    Properly engineered they will be a drop in replacement for the existing gloves. Just what is needed as the suits (or something like them) will be around for some time to come.

    The remote manipulator idea has its uses but you're forgetting the very substantial infrastructure upgrade needed. What carries it (them)? What moves the carrier around? What's the transmission system?

    I suspect a detailed description of the winning design will be more James May than Captain Cyborg.

    Applause for the winner. I hope NASA does keep up a low key, but steady stream of these. Long ago Prof Heinz Woolfe coined the phrase "Uninteresting Research Into Necessary Equipment." Long may the stream of these challenges continue.

  8. SilverWave

    Try bending an inner tube when it's inflated.

    This is something that needs fixing, money well spent.

    "Harrison "Jack" Schmitt was a Ph.D. Geologist and was one of the last guys to walk on the moon. A few years earlier I heard him tell a small group of us about how the space suit gloves didn't quite fit. The faulty gloves pried his fingernails loose on the moon when he was trying to do work. "


    "Your finger muscles really get knotted up. Your fingers must really work hard. Being in the space suit is like being inside a fully inflated inner tube. Try bending an inner tube when it's inflated.You're on the inside. Bending it is really hard to do."

    From: The best mad scientist memoir of the year - Zuppero's zingy tale of space travel and bonkers weaponry

  9. Dave Bell

    Not just NASA

    Other countries have space programmes.

    I wonder if these inventors are going to be selling tech outside the USA.

    Or do the Chinese, Russians, etc, have better gloves now than NASA (Isn't the current space suit the one which was designed when they were designing the Shuttle?).

  10. Anonymous John

    Re sensitive space gloves

    "Regardless of how 'sensitive' they make the gloves they are useless in working at any task that requires fine manual dexterity. "

    The Hubble telescope was repaired three times, despite not having been designed to allow that. The last servicing mission involved over 100 small screws. The ISS was designed with the limitations of current glove technology in mind.

    As I understand it, the objective is to make gloves more comfortable, and less tiring to use.

  11. Alan Brown 1

    What's a Man Year?

    1440 people trying to get something done before lunch.

    NASA management really should be forced to read "the mythical man-year"

  12. Will Shaw

    Measure & Manage

    Just because you corporate culture is to chuck massive resource at a problem, doesn't mean the problem "requires" it.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Just want to be the first to say it...

    "No glove, no love!"


  14. Stuart Halliday


    A picture or two of the glove would be nice...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Joe 1

    Great discoveries may have been made by individuals, but great *development efforts* are generally not so simple. There's a difference between discovering the way to make an airfoil (efficient individually, not efficient with a huge group) and building a 747 (impossible individually, potentially efficient and at least doable with a huge group).

    Design of complex things often requires a lot of people - at the very least to get things done in a sane amount of time - even if not to find a broad enough spectrum of talent. Could an individual use his time more efficiently than a large group to single-handedly create Wall-E? Maybe. But even if he had the combined talents of all the people at Pixar, he'd be dead long before the rendering started.

    A single instance of individual efficiency with a limited-scope project doesn't prove that teamwork is worthless.

  16. Bounty

    @ David W

    We're talking about a glove. I don't think Joe 1 was refering to every possible achievement of mankind. Now where did I put my brick, I've got a pyramid to build.

    (p.s. NASA, please keeping moving towards $ effeciency.)

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