Japan’s space agency and Asics Corp. will jointly produce shoes to help prevent the loss of muscle strength in astronauts living in the weightlessness of space.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Asics and Japan Manned Space Systems Corp., a Tokyo company involved in JAXA projects, will develop a prototype of the shoes by next March. The footwear will be designed to provide physical exercise for astronauts aboard the International Space Station, they said.

JAXA presented the plan for the shoes to the government’s Space Activities Commission on Wednesday.

The footwear will have a two-toed shape, allowing astronauts to move their toes and strengthen the muscles in their arches, according to Asics.

Soft plastic will be used inside the shoes to protect the soles of the feet, which suffer scrapes more easily in space.

The sporting goods company also believes the shoes will help in rehabilitating patients whose leg muscles have become weak due to prolonged hospitalization.

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