We can probably all agree that sharing your unwashed underwear with another person isn’t ideal. However, for astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS), performing a spacewalk requires that they share not only the spacesuits, but also a next-to-the-skin piece of clothing that’s worn underneath the spacesuit and resembles long underwear, known as the Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG).
Access to a freshly laundered LCVG isn’t an option on the ISS, but technicians with the European Space Agency (ESA) are taking steps to improve the antimicrobial properties in LCVG materials to keep these shared garments clean and fresh for longer, ESA representatives said in a statement.
In a new two-year project called Biocidal Advanced Coating Technology for Reducing Microbial Activity (Bacterma), ESA researchers are collaborating with the Vienna Textile Lab — a private biotechnology company in Austria that produces fabric dyes from bacteria. Compounds generated by these bacteria can also make textile fibers more resistant to certain types of microbes, according to the statement.