At the British Grand Prix next weekend, the McLaren team will have
a special boost from space technology: their mechanics’ suits will
feature a cooling system, specially developed from the astronaut’s
suits by the Technology Transfer Programme of the European Space

The McLaren mechanics’ suits are the unique product of a team
grouping together the ESA Technology Transfer Programme (TTP),
the Italian fashion manufacturer Karada and the designer Hugo
Boss. The challenge was to produce a thermo-regulating garment,
offering fire protection and a comfortable working temperature
for the whole team servicing the car, whose overalls have the
same safety standards as the pilot’s. The ESA TTP offered the
solution: 50 metres of plastic tubing, 2mm wide, developed
for an astronaut’s suit by the Canadian company Med-Eng, and
installed by Karada in 55 overalls. The result is a miniaturised
air conditioning system, offering maximum comfort when working
under extreme heat.

The idea dates back to early 2001, when Karada spun off a company,
"Grado Zero Espace", to investigate the use of engineering,
chemistry and mechanics for innovative garments. Lead by Mauro
Taliani, designer for Hugo Boss, the team first conceived a
cooling jacket where plastic tubing was used, completing an
internal cooling circuit controlled by a mini refrigerator. In
late 2001 the crucial impulse came from the technology broker
D’Appolonia, member of the TTP network, who mediated the know-how
of European space experts and identified the space industry with
the right product. The original jacket was also on display at
the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, which is
part of the Smithsonian Institute.

To stimulate the spin-off of space technologies, the Technology
Transfer Programme of ESA makes European space technologies
available for licensing or further development. D’Appolonia is
one of the technology brokers across Europe and Canada who scout
the space world and identify technologies with a potential for
non-space applications. They then market the technology and
provide assistance in the transfer process. The results since
1991: more than one billion euros in revenues will be generated
by end of 2004 for all companies involved, more than 2,500 jobs
created or saved, 25 new companies established and 150 successful
transfers. The Programme currently costs 0.01 euro for every
taxpayer per year.

"Another example of how European space technology can provide
effective solutions to problems here on Earth" commented Pierre
Brisson, Head of ESA TTP.

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office

Tel: +33(0)

Fax: +33(0)

Mr. Stefano Carosio


Via S. Nazaro 19

16145 Genova


Phone: 39 010 362 8148

Fax: 39 010 3621078


Ms. Susan Clowes

Karada / Grado Zero Espace

Via Leonardo da Vinci 190/a

50059 Sovigliana / Vinci (Firenze)

Phone: 39 0571 50 061

Fax: 39 0571 50 96 40


Fore more information about the ESA Technology Transfer Programme:

More information

* Technology Transfer Spin-off Successes

Related articles

* ESA and industry to discuss how space technology can improve

* Plastics for space — problem solvers on Earth

* New pyjamas could prevent cot deaths

Related links

* ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme


[Image 1:]
A cooling system derived from the astronauts’ suit ensures comfort
in fire-proof suits. Credits: Courtesy West McLaren


[Image 2:]
A cooling system derived from the astronauts’ suit ensures comfort
in fire-proof suits. The result is a miniaturised air conditioning
system for the mechanics. Credits: Courtesy West McLaren Mercedes