Have you ever wanted to dress like an astronaut? Well, you’d better get your moon walk on, cause now you can–in terms of your undergarments, at least.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced a new line of cooling underwear vests designed using cutting-edge technology applicable to space research. A limited supply of the product, known by the slightly awkward yet wonderfully Japanese moniker “cooling by the space technology,” went on sale to the general public on May 30. While each vest will set you back 60,000 yen (US$590), isn’t knowing that you’re wearing the same thing as an astronaut enough to justify the price? More details after the jump.
Much of Japan is already feeling a little hot on the collar as temperatures starting hitting the low 30s (or mid 80s if you prefer) late last week, and people can already be seen dabbing their foreheads with handkerchiefs and lining up to buy chilled drinks at Starbucks. But thankfully, there are some new, albeit pricey, threads that might help the population keep cool as summer approaches.
Since 2008, JAXA has been working closely with the Nippon Uniform Center (NUC) to research next-generation technological techniques to cool the inside of astronauts’ airtight space suits. NUC has been invaluable in contributing their knowledge about pattern design and sewing technology to the research.
This time around, NUC has collaborated with Teikoku Sen-I Co., Ltd., originally a manufacturer of linen and now of disaster-prevention products, to release the new cooling underwear vests under JAXA’s own brand JAXA COSMODE, which affirms itself to be “a brand designed to introduce the features of space to our lives on the ground.”
The cooling vests are composed of a network of tubing and a pump unit which circulates the coolant around the vest at a temperature of four degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit). One liter (33.8 oz) of water can cool the vest for approximately 30 minutes. The vests can also absorb and evaporate sweat immediately. To top it off, they are 100% polyester and completely machine-washable.
▼It looks pretty snazzy, if you ask us!
▼The JAXA COSMODE logo. The hexagonal shape is supposed to represent infinity.
The official press release from JAXA also provides information about previous testing results while monitoring the temperature inside space suits both with and without the cooling vest. Check out the following data:
Test environment: 35 to 36 degrees Celsius (95-96.8 degress Fahrenheit) with humidity of 70%, typical mid-summer conditions in Japan (solar radiation was simulated).
The test was held by wearing a highly airtight chemical protective suit.
The following graphs display the results of the tests. For your reference, 39.7 °C = 103.46 °F and 33 °C = 91.4 °F.
▼Temperature degree difference: 6.7 degrees Celsius/12.06 degrees Fahrenheit
Of course the downside of this whole enterprise to us ordinary earthlings is that playing astronaut doesn’t come cheap, with each vest costing a hefty 60,000 yen ($590). JAXA’s sales distribution plan for 2014 is also limited to only 1,000 vests, so you can bet that any aspiring astronauts with the cash to burn will buy them up quickly.
On a side note, the whole cooling vest venture also brings to mind this other tubing coolant system designed by CoolSmile in Osaka for motorcyclists:
We don’t know about the rest of you, but it sounds like a mass distribution of cooling underwear vests would be the perfect solution to combat the unbearably humid Japanese summers. Is anyone willing to write a proposal for the next logical step after “Cool Biz”?