Space suit glove design with advanced metacarpal phalangeal joints and robotic hand evaluation

Theodore Southern, Dustyn P. Roberts, Nikolay Moiseev, Amy Ross, Joo H. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: One area of space suits that is ripe for innovation is the glove. Existing models allow for some fine motor control, but the power grip - the act of grasping a bar - is cumbersome due to high torque requirements at the knuckle or metacarpal phalangeal joint (MCP). This area in particular is also a major source of complaints of pain and injury as reported by astronauts. Method: This paper explores a novel fabrication and patterning technique that allows for more freedom of movement and less pain at this crucial joint in the manned space suit glove. The improvements are evaluated through unmanned testing, manned testing while depressurized in a vacuum glove box, and pressurized testing with a robotic hand. Results: MCP joint flex score improved from 6 to 6.75 (out of 10) in the final glove relative to the baseline glove, and torque required for flexion decreased an average of 17% across all fingers. Qualitative assessments during unpressurized and depressurized manned testing also indicated the final glove was more comfortable than the baseline glove. Discussion: The quantitative results from both human subject questionnaires and robotic torque evaluation suggest that the final iteration of the glove design enables flexion at the MCP joint with less torque and more comfort than the baseline glove.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-638
Number of pages6
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Anthropometric
  • Biomimetic design
  • Neutral configuration
  • Pressurized glove garment
  • Robotic hand testing
  • Space suit
  • Stiffness
  • Torque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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