Astronauts' bones and muscles can severely decay in space — and this company aims to stop it


Space travel takes a serious toll on the human body.

The zero gravity that astronauts experience on a daily basis can cause their bones and muscles to severely decay — but one company is working on technology to help space travelers stay in shape during missions.

The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida University System, is creating pioneering robotics technology that is transforming human mobility.

Based in Pensacola, Fla., the organization has developed exoskeletons, fast running-legged robots and humanoid avatars designed to ease the physical hardships that astronauts — and even disabled Earth-dwellers — face.

One such piece of equipment designed by IHMC is called the "grasshopper," a fitness device specifically designed to work in outer space.

Whereas traditional weights are rendered useless in a zero-gravity environment, the grasshopper is powered by motors, which help create the resistance necessary to provide muscle- and bone-density strengthening.

The machine is computer controlled and the weight load can be adjusted to accommodate multiple different exercises, such as squats and bicep curls.

For more on The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and its inventions, check out the above episode of Space Pirates.