JAXA to develop firefighter garb


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Thursday that it will develop clothing with cooling functions for firefighters from special underwear made for astronauts.

JAXA hopes the clothing will be used also by people working under the environment that tends to cause heatstroke and other harsh conditions, including security guards and nuclear plant workers, officials said.

The government-linked agency will carry out the project jointly with three private-sector entities — Nippon Uniform Center, JAXA’s partner in spacesuit development, firefighting and radiation protection clothing maker Teikoku Sen-i Co., and space equipment maker Advanced Engineering Services Co.

Through next March, the team will study whether the envisioned garment can be put to practical use. If the team concludes that the project is feasible, it will start developing the clothing for practical use within fiscal 2014.

The space underwear, for which JAXA has applied for a patent, is made of special chemical fibers. It has 24 coolant water circulation tubes, each of which is 2.6 meters long with an internal diameter of 1.6 mm.

For astronauts, the cooling system, as well as batteries and pumps, are installed in life-support equipment carried on their backs. For firefighters and nuclear plant workers, JAXA is considering using cold water from an outside source or ice wrapped in a heat-insulating material to ensure cooling.

It has been developing spacesuits since fiscal 2008 in preparation for the possible construction of an international lunar base.