Thicksuit
Thicksuit
Image from Steve Bowers
Emergency drill for a near-baseline human wearing a Thicksuit;
the extensive antenna/solar sail can be seen as it starts to unfurl

A thicksuit is designed to allow a near-baseline biont to operate for an extended period in a vacuum environment. It gives the nearbaseline wearer some of the innate abilities of certain vacuum adapted clades such as the Sailors of the Ebon Sea. A lesser version of the same equipment is known as a thinsuit.

The basic structure of a thicksuit is a somewhat rubbery looking layer of material of about 1 millimetre thickness across the hands and thickening to 10 millimetres across the torso. An integrated backpack of some 30 millimetres thickness contains the primary suit systems that cannot fit within the structure of the suit itself. Sensors and tactile feedback circuits in the suit cause it to transmit textures thru the suit to the wearer, while supporting nanobots clean both the suit and the wearer by absorbing and recycling/removing moisture and materials from sweat, body oils, and the flaking of dead skin. Thin-film solar collectors cover the outside of the suit and provide power when in proximity to a star. The backpack unit contains a small, but powerful flywheel-based power source, bionano recycling systems, communication equipment, a crashcache, and a folded emergency solar sail/communications antenna that extends to some 10 kilometres in diameter when fully deployed. A complex network of nanofiber based artificial 'muscles' running throughout the interior layers of the suit permits users to amplify strength to ten times normal, and to reduce the apparent force of impacts by a similar amount.

In its inactive state, a thicksuit is simply a rather heavy, rubbery, full-body covering with a large slit extending up each leg and across the torso. When put on and activated, the suit automatically seals across the body and then configures itself into a comfortable mask-like arrangement around the wearer's head, bulging out over the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Phased array display elements over the eyes allow the user to see across a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum and provide text and graphic information as required. Vibrating membranes in the earpieces of the suit provide full-spectrum audio interfacing.

In addition to covering the wearer's body, an activated thicksuit automatically deploys a network of fine tendrils into the user's gastrointestinal and urinary systems for the purpose of absorbing and recycling biological wastes and infusing nutrition and liquid into the body. Deployment takes place through the urethra and rectal openings with secondary connections made directly to the bloodstream at various points around the body where major veins and arteries are accessible. This process is accompanied by bionano nerve blocking mechanisms and is also quite gradual, requiring several minutes to occur. As such the 'melding' of a thicksuit with its user usually goes almost unnoticed, especially with regular use. When the suit is being removed, the tendrils are withdrawn and the secondary access points are sealed with fast acting bionano gel. Complete healing is usually accomplished within 2 hours.

A thicksuit permits the user to operate in a vacuum environment for varying lengths of time depending on their state of activity. If fully awake and active, a near-baseline can operate comfortably in a thicksuit for several weeks, their wastes removed and recycled by bionano based support systems, and energy provided by either incoming solar flux or flywheel based energy systems.

If the user places emself in stasis using the suit's medical systems the thicksuit is rated to keep em alive and revivable for a period of up to 3 years under normal conditions. Using the onboard solar sail/antenna system, this is usually sufficient for the user to either return to civilization or be retrieved by rescuers summoned by signals from the antenna. However if this is not sufficient the suit can use the onboard crashcache and built-in nanosystems to upload the wearer into a cybernetic core and then convert the now vacant body into reaction mass to help propel the user's mindstate to a place of safety. After the initial impulse provided by consumption of the wearers body and the non-essential suit components, the solar sail can be deployed to continue the voyage to the destination or place of rescue.

 
Related Articles
 
Appears in Topics
 
Development Notes
Text by Todd Drashner

Initially published on 27 October 2005.