NASA created this shoebox-sized workout device to keep future space explorers fit

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Jul 18, 2016, 6:38 PM EDT

Though we’d all like to be kicking around in a spaceship like 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Discovery One, where you can literally go for a run, modern-day craft don’t have quite as much workout space. So the minds at NASA are looking to improvise.

The International Space Station (ISS) has a treadmilll, but NASA is looking at how to keep astronauts in shape while traveling in even more cramped quarters. Engineers have developed a device slightly larger than a shoebox that is intended to basically be a Bowflex in a box. The workout tool is called the Resistive Overload Combined with Kinetic Yo-Yo (ROCKY) device, developed by Zin Technologies. The first crewed Orion mission will use the device.

“ROCKY is an ultra-compact, lightweight exercise device that meets the exercise and medical requirements that we have for Orion missions,” said Gail Perusek, deputy project manager for NASA’s Human Research Program’s Exploration Exercise Equipment project. “The International Space Station’s exercise devices are effective but are too big for Orion, so we had to find a way to make exercising in Orion feasible.”

While in space, astronauts need to work out approximately two hours per day to stay healthy, especially since muscles can get weaker up there with no gravity. The ROCKY works like a rowing machine for aerobic activity and strength training. Despite its compact size, the device can generate up to 400 pounds of resistance. 

Looking to the long term, devices such as the ROCKY could help keep astronauts healthy during much longer journeys (i.e. a trip to Mars) and keep them in shape even when the quarters might be too cramped to include any major workout equipment.


(Via NASA)