Astronaut Karen Nyberg took off on Twitter after she started posting gorgeous images of Earth looking down from the International Space Station – the images really will amaze you. But, thanks to Karen and Quilts Inc, quilters have a special reason to look up at the stars for inspiration. While up in the International Space Station, Karen pieced a star block (and learned some of the challenges of sewing in zero gravity) and has now issued a challenge to quilters to create their own star blocks to go with hers for a special quilt that will be displayed at Houston in 2014. Watch the video of Karen on the space station with her block, and read the full details of the challenge to find out how you can participate – (click here).
Of course, that got us thinking about our own connection to the stars – Cory Simon, the son of Landauer Publishing’s editor, Jeri Simon, has a very cool job that mixes textiles and tech for NASA.
A Common Thread: Developing Space-Age Materials
The text below originally appeared on the Checker Newsletter Blog and is reproduced in full with permission of the author, Penny Haren.
Jeri Simon, editor of Landauer Publishing, is also the proud mother of four children. Cory Simon is a Human Interface Engineer with NASA.
I know they look like brother and sister – but this is actually mother and son. And what happens when an engineer grows up with a mother that sews? He develops wearable technology for the space program!
According to NASA, “Advances in Smart Fabrics technology are enabling an exciting array of new applications for NASA exploration missions, the biomedical community, and consumer electronics.This report summarizes the findings of a brief investigation into the state of the art and potential applications of smart fabrics to address challenges in human spaceflight.”
But there is much more to this story – and I love American creativity! As we know, the space program has experienced massive budget cuts in the last few years which would have devastated most programs. But Cory and NASA deveoped a program that was a win/win for everyone!
Cory and his team mentor students from such prestigious universities as Georgia Tech; Virginia Tech, and the University of Minnesota. These students work on projects that contain sensors, displays and controls that will assist future astronauts.
The concept is simple: Develop threads that will transmit data so that NASA will be able to monitor medical data 24/7. The astronauts’ garments will transmit the data. But, once this technology is developed, it will have far reaching implications for everyone on Earth as well.
In the medical field, doctors will be able to monitor stroke victims, preemies, and coma patients 24/7 without disturbing them. And, on a greater scale, imagine a hospital stay without being woken up – a nurse wouldn’t have to take your pulse, blood pressure, or temperature!
In sports, trainers and coaches would be able to monitor their athletes. If a football player was injured on the field, they would be able to treat him instantly. Runners would be able to monitor their heart rates – and fans would know just how fast they were running at any given time. The technology would take sports to a whole new level.
If you ever have an opportunity to tour NASA while in Houston, please go! For those of us who grew up watching the space missions on television, it truly is a Brave New World!