NASA’s Lindsay Aitchison will debut at CanUX in 2017
Lindsay will talk about designing space suits for astronauts.
If This Was Real Life, You’d Be Dead (or at least really uncomfortable)
} Nov 4, 2017 9:50am / 30 MINUTES
Hollywood has tried hard to convince us that space suits of the future will be sleek, sexy, and as easy to put on as your favorite skinny jeans and t-shirt, but how would these suits fare when moved from the backlot to a real NASA mission? Join NASA Space Suit Engineer Lindsay Aitchison as she separates fact from fiction, with some fascinating insights on what it takes to put boots on Mars.
Speaker Bio: Lindsay Aitchison
Lindsay T. Aitchison is the Deputy Project Manager for the Advanced Space Suit Project at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Her work days are pretty typical. She wakes up around 6:30AM, takes her dogs out, eats breakfast, and then designs spacesuits for astronauts to wear on Mars. You know, the usual.
Lindsay began working full-time with NASA in May 2006. From 2006-2009, she served as project engineer and Lunar Configuration Lead for the Constellation Space Suit Pressure Garment Subsystem. Following her role in Constellation, Lindsay served as the space suit assembly (SSA) lead for the Shuttle EMU Engineering Subsystem Manager team. In 2012, Lindsay returned to the development side of space suits as the High Performance EVA Glove Development Lead, where her efforts focused on the design, build, and test of new technologies for space suit glove applications. Lindsay was promoted to her current position as the Deputy Project Manager for the Advanced Space Suit Project in March 2013 and continues to work with her team to develop space suit components that will enable human exploration of asteroids, the Moon, and Mars.
More recently, her team worked on testing NASA’s Z-2 prototype, a 4.4 million dollar space suit designed for easy exploration of Mars, the Moon, and any other landform where a spacecraft can touch down. The flexible material of the sleeves and pants allow astronauts to bend to the ground and pick up samples, as well as lift objects over their head. The Z-2 is a pressurized design made from layers of high-tech materials that are inflated until taut.
Her design inspiration comes from unexpected sources. After reading about Fabrican on the best inventions of the year list in a 2010 issue of Time magazine, she wondered if the spray-on fabric could be adapted to repair spacesuits on the go. When she heard about singer Nicole Scherzinger, of former Pussycat Dolls fame wearing a CuteCircuit dress that displayed a Twitter feed in real time, she imagined a spacesuit with a live feed of mission instructions built right into the garment. Lindsay also seeks inspiration from engineers working on industrial and athletic apparel. In an interview with Racked in 2016 she said: “If I were to leave NASA as an industry, I would definitely want to go into something to do with evaluating athletic apparel for human factors”.
*Image credit: NASA
You’re probably wondering about where Lindsday went to school to get a degree in spacesuit design? Parsons? SCAD? RISD? Nope. While she earned her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue and her Masters in Human Factors Engineering from Wright State University, the key was completing multiple co-op tours (special internships) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
When she’s taking a break from designing spacesuits, Lindsay’s recreational interests include paddleboarding, CrossFit, running, photography, scuba diving, and hanging out with her dogs Homer and Stu. Lindsay was also featured in “Journey to Space“, a 2016 IMAX film narrated by none other than Captain Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart.
Lindsay is the second ever speaker from NASA to grace the CanUX stage, following an appearance by AMES Research Center UX Manager Steve Hillenius in 2015.
*Video credit: Style Engineers