(meteorobs) Day in the Sun for a Virginia Boy

Not quite related to meteors, but a pretty neat story........

-Mark Davis

-----Original Message-----

>RELEASE:  98-116
>     Like an astronaut setting foot on a new world, a six-year-old 
>Virginia Beach, VA, boy can explore Earth during daylight for the 
>first time, thanks to new NASA space suit technology.
>     On April 19, Mikie Walker became the first American child to 
>receive a modified "space suit" that protects him from the sun's 
>ultraviolet rays and other light sources.  Mikie has porphryia, a 
>genetic disorder that causes extreme and potentially dangerous 
>sunlight sensitivity that can result in chronic skin inflammation, 
>blistering, inflammation of nerves, abdominal pain and other 
>disturbances.  For some children with light sensitivity disorders, 
>even a 40-watt light bulb can be dangerous.
>     "Mikie's new favorite outdoor activities include playing in 
>dirt and rolling on the lawn," his mother Angela Walker said.  "He 
>enjoys this so much that, at the end of the day, he resembles a 
>soil-encrusted Apollo moonwalker."
>     NASA's Johnson Space Center (Houston, TX) Office of 
>Technology Transfer and Commercialization offered the suit to 
>Mikie through an agreement with the not-for-profit HED and Related 
>Disorders Foundation, Hampton, VA. 
>     "It's amazing to think that NASA astronauts having walked on 
>the Moon means a child now can play in the sunlight," said Sarah 
>Moody, founder and president of the HED Foundation, which donates 
>cooling gear and other garments to children with hypohidrotic 
>ectodermal dysplasia (HED), multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, 
>cerebral palsy and other genetic disorders.  HED is a medical 
>disorder characterized by a lack of sweat glands, which can lead 
>to heat exhaustion, heatstroke and even death.  Thirty children 
>are on the foundation's waiting list for a suit like Mikie's.
>     The pint-sized space suit blocks nearly all of the sun's 
>ultraviolet rays.  Mikie sports an improved version of a prototype 
>protective suit provided last September to four-year-old Kyle and 
>two-year-old Ryan Richards of Shotton Colliery, England.  The 
>brothers have Polymorphic Light Reaction Syndrome, a serious 
>allergy to light that causes severe skin lesions.  Without the 
>suits, the brothers could venture outside only at night.  Last 
>fall, the boys, who looked like junior astronauts, wore their 
>protective suits to Disney World in Orlando, FL, and also viewed a 
>Space Shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
>     Thanks to the "expert" feedback provided by the Richards 
>brothers, NASA developed an upgraded version of the protective 
>garment.  The suit's headpiece was redesigned totally to enhance 
>ventilation and reduce overheating in the head area. 
>     "The body cooling system was changed from a battery-powered 
>liquid pump unit to a passive phase change vest, made of material 
>similar to refrigerator cold packs used for sports injuries.  The 
>vest is simple, less expensive and more durable than the original 
>battery pump," saidRobert Dotts, assistant director of Technology 
>Transfer and Commercialization at Johnson.  The new phase change 
>vest is easier to use for both children and their families and 
>brought down the cost of the entire UV suit, Dotts said.
>     MicroClimate Systems, Inc., of Sanford, MI, supplied the 
>phase change vest, and the Solar Protective Factory of Carmichael, 
>CA, provided the UV protective outer garments.  The DRLI Company, 
>which supplies protective coatings for astronauts' space suit 
>helmets, supplied the clear UV-blocking coating for Mikie's ski-
>goggle-like face visor.
>     According to HED Foundation's Moody, who presented the NASA 
>suit to the Walker family, a giggly Mikie couldn't wait to don his 
>"space suit" and explore the outdoor world of his home planet in 
>daylight.  The family headed for a local lake and, also for the 
>first time, Mikie could look at the scenery out the van's windows.  
>Previously, the passenger windows of any vehicle in which Mikie 
>rode, had to be covered completely to prevent exposure to sunlight.
>     For more information about UV protective suits for children 
>with applicable disorders, contact the HED Foundation at P.O. Box 
>9421, Hampton, VA, 23670, phone 757/826-0065, or check out the web 
>site at:
>              http://www.microclimate.com/hed/
>                          -end-