Set in the near future, the interior of the spaceship is coated with thin layers of Teflon approximately 10mm average thickness on top of titanium alloy which in case you are wondering it is weakly magnetic. I need the crews to be able to walk around the catladders and platforms instead of floating everywhere in a very spacious area, no nets, safety harness/ropes, FTL, wrap, artificial gravity and ET allowed. Is there any durable and affordable footwear to allow the crews to walk around the spaceship effortlessly instead of free fall?

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    $\begingroup$ Why coat the interior of a spaceship with such a thick layer of teflon? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 6:16
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    $\begingroup$ @user6760 In case you don't know metric very well 10mm is the same as 1cm, which is between a third and a half of an inch. Teflon is typically applied in very thin layers closer to 1mm thick $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ @user6760 Actually, once damaged, teflon tends to exfoliate. Thick layers are easier to damage than thin layers. So, being that thick (10mm is extremely thick) is not a good idea. However, since this is not the point of your question, you would be better to just say that damage or defects to the teflon layer, whatever is its thickness, are highly undesirable. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, by the way, I don't think that people would be confortable to live inside a fully coated chemical storage tank in orbit. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ What kind of spaceship is this. Explorative? Settlers? Fighters? Cargo-Carrier? This might have an impact on suiting preferences. $\endgroup$
    – hitchhiker
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 23:04

8 Answers 8



Velcro is easy to use insofar as you an put the 'fluffy' side of the velcro on almost any surface, and then just adhere the 'hook' side of the velcro to the underside of your shoes. Let's say you're on a ladder. Your hands can still grip the rungs covered in the fluffy part, but your shoes adhere to it, making purchase easier.

Ideally, you'd also wear velcro gloves, so you could launch from one side of the ship to the other and control your arrival at the next bulkhead with your hands and swing your feet into position.

The other advantage to this kind of footwear is that you don't even need to make it especially; you could just tape the velcro onto the bottom of some standard sneakers, and even replace it if it starts to wear.

Although it doesn't take advantage of the magnetic properties, this is actually the most practical because the holding forces of velcro make it quite useful for this kind of environment while still giving people the ability to break the hold to move about. You should also be able to use it as a good hold point for cargo and specific personal items like tablets and other devices you'd normally leave on a desk beside you in full gravity, meaning that the solution is versatile beyond astronaut mobility; it's more or less a gravity replacement for your personal items and in some cases cargo as well, if you use it correctly.

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    $\begingroup$ For reference, velcro is often touted by astronauts who have lived aboard the ISS as the biggest help in their day to day life, as it enables them to "put something down on a table" as opposed to always having to store items in drawers/hatches when not wearing them. All the whitegray patches you see on the table are velcro patches. $\endgroup$
    – Flater
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 11:12
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    $\begingroup$ As useful as this is for other items on a spaceship, I'm not sure how effective this would be as footwear - every time you walked anywhere you'd hear the annoying "rip, rip, rip, rip" with every step. After a few hours of that, I'd just go barefoot... $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ If it was good enough for Vulcans, it is good enough for us $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 1:10
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    $\begingroup$ Relevant: Link to research study on using Velcro footwear. $\endgroup$
    – John Wu
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 1:28
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    $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman: The point is that there is no gravity, so you won't be going anywhere barefoot, at least not by walking. Even with your velcro boots, no one is forcing you to use them instead of floating. I would expect you'd still wear them but only use the velcro when you want/need to. $\endgroup$
    – Flater
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 15:14

You don't actually need any footwear to move in micro gravity.

Hands are the perfect tools to grab onto ladder rungs and with a little training, our toes can hold onto them fine enough. In micro gravity humans don't have to walk upright, they can pull themselves along handholds and ladders in all directions.

The ISS is a fine example of how a single hand hold (or foot hold) can anchor an astronaut just fine and leave both hands free to work with.

As long as there are no sharp edges, you don't need any footwear at all. For reasons of sanitation thin socks and gloves are more than enough. To make grabbing rungs with your feet easier, the socks should be coated in a non-slip substance and at least the big toe should be seperated (like a mitten for feet). Seperating each toe would probably be more practical for the astronaut, though.

Imagine a latex glove for feet: it adapts to the form of the foot, is non-slippy and keps the walls of your space ship clean.

  • $\begingroup$ or just go barefoot. More sanitary than wearing socks in most cases, especially if the people keep themselves clean (which is something you'd expect in a spaceship). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ I think the latex socks are meant to keep dead skin particles and shedding toe hair from flying about the cabin and getting stuck in your eye. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ Cotton would be better than latex imho, otherwise dead on $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ @elmy Latex it's an irritant, and people develop allergies to it. It does not breathe, leading to fungal and bacterial infections. A human body is an entire self contained ecosystem, and care for the balance of the microflora that are a part of it is crucial to the astronauts long term health. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ I now imagine astronauts using spray on shoes. $\endgroup$
    – willuwontu
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 15:19

I am not sure that holding the feet somewhere would be of any help for moving in microgravity.

Our body is used to either walk or swim. Walking for a biped is basically a continue series of controlled falls: the body leans forward, using gravity and feet traction to move and then the other foot to start te cycle again.

Taking out gravity from this process would make it more difficult to walk and control movement. With no gravity to act on the body, the torso would have a hard time following the movement of the legs. One would have to basically lay parallel to the floor and move like climbing a ladder.

Floating in microgravity would be a preferred way to move, thanks to its resemblance with swimming.

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    $\begingroup$ I tend to agree. the way we walk relies heavily on gravity and simply sticking to walls wouldn't be enough to walk usefully. Better would be to have a lot of handles and grab-points throughout the interior of the craft, allowing climbing and ready hand-holds. Potentially also useful with larger spaces would be to provide crew with small thruster packs to help them get to a wall if they find themselves floating out of arms reach. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 10:30

Gel window cling polymer slime.

window clings


These things are popular and fun. They are made of hard tacky polymer goo. They will adhere indefinitely to a window. If you are making toys, you can adjust the tackiness to make something like the tumbling men - also polymer slime but gooeyer such that they stick then gradually peel away.

The polymer sticks to itself better than to smooth surfaces like glass (or certainly teflon). Polymer slime shoes would give you some traction but not so much the shoe comes off of you.


Ballet slippers.

That 10mm layer of teflon has similar thickness and properties to Marley, a vinyl floor covering used in nearly all serious ballet studios and performance spaces. Also good for other forms of dance in bare feet or soft shoes (or hard shoes with soft coverings aka pointe shoes).

Ballet slippers are designed to be durable, comfortable, and to protect the foot from friction (lack of gravity doesn't means there isn't friction as a foot twists while pushing off from a surface) and other concerns.

More importantly, they are designed not to fall apart in ways that leave little pieces lying around (or floating around, as the case may be). Little bits of stuff are dangerous for dancing.

The standard ballet slipper is made of soft leather or canvas (canvas wears out faster but might be okay in low-gravity; leather can last for years) with a cloth lining. There are elastic straps over the top so the shoe is always perfectly secure. The bottom of the shoe has leather soles, either one long one or two smaller ones at ball and heel.

If you need magnets, they can go into split sole (the kind with two pieces of leather on the bottom) shoes. Use flat, thin, flexible magnets under or within the covering for the ball of the foot.

If you need velcro or another sticky substance, it can also go on the leather soles of the slippers.

Ballet slippers are light, compress for storage, are not that expensive (unless you are outfitting a serious dancer), and are widely available commercially in a variety of styles and a huge range of sizes. Colors are mostly pink and black with some tan/brown and white available, but I'm sure could be any color with a large special order.

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Gecko Feet.

Named one of the top five science breakthroughs of 2012 by CNN Money, Geckskin™ is so powerful that an index-card sized piece can hold 700 pounds on a smooth surface, such as glass, yet can be easily released, and leaves no residue.

Geckskin™ offers tantalizing possibilities for synthetic devices that can easily attach and detach everyday objects such as televisions or computers to walls, as well as medical, industrial, clothing, and home applications.



Unlike traditional pressure-sensitive adhesives, which rely on viscoelasticity for adhering to surfaces, Geckskin™ relies on a concept known as draping adhesion. Draping adhesion is created with materials that can drape to create conformal contact with a surface while still maintaining high, elastic stiffness in directions where forces will be applied. This design enables adhesive loads to be more evenly distributed across the pad surface, while also allowing for a rapid and low-energy transition between attachment and detachment.

Geckskin™ is composed of stiff fabrics—such as carbon fiber or Kevlar—with soft elastomers, such as polyurethane or polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). It uses commodity materials, not nanotechnology. The key innovation of Geckskin™ was the integration of a soft elastomer (the pad) with a stiff fabric (the skin), allowing the pad to drape over a surface to maximize contact. Further, as in natural gecko feet, the skin is woven into a synthetic tendon, yielding a design that plays a key role in maintaining stiffness and rotational freedom. The end result is an adhesive device that is powerful, easily removed, and leaves no residue.


Suction devices

The first thing that you think when reading this is suction-cups of some sort. They are equally if not worse than velcro. This is not what I mean.

Imagine having some sort of shoes or gloves that have a duct-system built into them. Like a vacuum cleaner. This way a singular fan or air-pump can be used to create different levels of suction depending on area of usage. Or one might even have individual suction systems for each shoe/glove or piece of attire that needs "Gas-based artificial gravity".

This can be configured to increase or decrease suction when one lifts a foot or similar via sensors.

This solution is feasible although hard to accomplish realistically. Usage in vacuum or low air-density will be severely hampered since it depends on the density of the gas to function as intended.

This system could also theoretically be used in low-zero gravity as a form of transportation if one reverses the airflow to blow instead of suck.

  • $\begingroup$ If you want to get futuristic, some form of shape-memory polymer forming into suction cups similar to those of Cephalopods would do away with the need for ducting and pumps. Just flatten the cup, apply to a surface, then puff it up into a partial vacuum. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 10:31

Polymagnetic soles

In microgravity you don't need a strong magnet and shaped field sheet magnets exist, so just a flat sheet of shaped field magnet (aka polymagnets) comparable in shape and thickness to the soles of thin shoes. Sandwich it between a a bonded cloth layer for durability. Something like a pair of tall dojo shoes in design will let you walk around comfortably all day with a little practice. You can even shaped the magnetic pattern to keep the force comfortably distributed.


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