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Maine man wins $200K for astronaut glove design


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Maine man wins $200K for astronaut glove design

Maine man wins $200K for astronaut glove design

A Maine man on Thursday won NASA's $200,000 US Astronaut Glove Challenge with his design for flexible handwear for space.

Peter Homer of Southwest Harbor won the contest held May 2 to 3 at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Conn., after his design fared best in tests of strength, flexibility and comfort. His innovations in finger dexterity may one day find their way into NASA gloves.

Homer beat out four other competitors to take the top prize.

There was also a $50,000 prize available for a successful mechanical glove design, but that portion of the contest received no entries.

The challenge seeks to engage the public and encourage them to imagine new ideas for glove designs, Alan Hayes, chairman and CEO of non-profit educational organization Volanz Aerospace Inc. of Owings, Md., which mounted the contest, told CBC News Online.

Existing gloves are basically specialized balloons, and when they are pressurized, it makes it difficult for astronauts on a spacewalk to flex their joints, move their fingers or perform any task that requires dexterity, Hayes said. As a result, they can end up with abrasions, bruises, blisters and even lose fingernails.

With prize money supplied by NASA as part of its Centennial Challenges program, the group hopes to inspire a new generation of space enthusiasts, he said.

"We use space as an educational tool. There aren't a lot of high-technology opportunities for kids that there were for kids in the [1970s], '80s and '90s."

While the competition that just ended was not for children, Hayes said he aims to hold such a contest next year.

Post Fri 04 May, 2007 7:35 am 
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