Most of us have seen fictional superhero, Ironman, using a powered armor suit that allows him superhuman strength. And now NASA is developing a similar prototype which may someday help astronauts stay healthier in space with the added benefit of assisting paraplegics in walking here on Earth.

The robotic exoskeleton is called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.

Michael Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program said:

“Robotics is playing a key role aboard the International Space Station and will continue to be critical as we move toward human exploration of deep space,”

He also said:

“What’s extraordinary about space technology and our work with projects like Robonaut are the unexpected possibilities space tech spinoffs may have right here on Earth. It’s exciting to see a NASA-developed technology that might one day help people with serious ambulatory needs begin to walk again, or even walk for the first time. That’s the sort of return on investment NASA is 

Worn over the legs with a harness that reaches up the back and around the shoulders, X1 has 10 degrees of freedom, four joints at the hips and the knees, and six joints that allow for sidestepping, turning and pointing and flexing the foot.

Source: NASA