The Space Suit Art Project, an Artistic Initiative for Pediatric Cancer Patients

2016-09-20 – NASA astronaut Kate Rubins wearing a replica of the Courage space suit, painted by pediatric cancer patients as part of the Space Suit Art Project. (Credit: NASA)

Photos and videos of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and her coloured space suit made the rounds on social media in September 2016. The suit, named Courage, was assembled from hundreds of cloth pieces hand-painted by patients at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, United States.

Courage was born from the Space Suit Art Project, an initiative to help raise awareness about the issues surrounding childhood cancer and the power of the arts in the clinical healing process. The project also highlights International Space Station (ISS) laboratories and payloads dedicated to finding medicines and cures off Earth for various diseases here on Earth.

2016-10-13 – Pieces of Unity. As part of the Space Suit Art Project, the space suit travelled in hospitals and space agencies from ISS partner countries so that as many children as possible could add their own personal touch. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

It all started as a collaboration between MD Anderson's Arts in Medicine Program, NASA's Johnson Space Center and the space suit company ILC Dover. Two space suits, Hope and Courage, were completed before the initiative expanded worldwide. Space agencies in Germany, Russia, Japan and Canada are now collaborating in the initiative to create a third suit, Unity. The space suit travelled in hospitals and space agencies from ISS partner countries so that as many children as possible could add their own personal touch.

2016-10-13 – Pediatric cancer patients painting the Unity suit as part of the Space Suit Art Project. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Unity continued its tour this week at the Montreal Children's Hospital. The kids were visited by former NASA astronaut and project ambassador Nicole Stott and MD Anderson's art director Ian Cion. The kids also had the opportunity to ask questions to Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen and speak with former Canadian Space Agency astronaut Dr. Dave Williams and patients from the Southlake Regional Hospital who are also participating in the activity.

Learn more about the Space Suit Art Project on Facebook and Twitter.