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What Is The New Space Suit?

In all of the reports I find on the award of the new suit contract to Oceaneering, I can't find any technical details on it (I suppose a lot of the info for both competitors is embargoed for proprietary reasons). But from the pictures, it looks like a hard suit. Does anyone know? If so, that would be the second revolution. The first, of course, is Ham Standard/Sunstrand finally losing their decades-long monopoly, going back to Apollo. It's nice to see David Clark back in the game as well, after all those decades. I wonder if they'll be using a glove concept based on Peter Homer's?

[Update in the afternoon]

Louise Riofrio has more thoughts. Apparently, though, this wasn't a design competition--it was a competition to see which contractor was more generally qualified to build suits. Process over product...


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ken anthony wrote:

Something to go with it???

Rocket Arm

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Well she certainly liked the choice a lot, I don't.

These designs don't seem to do anything to mitigate the dust problem compared to other designs I've seen floating around in public. It seems feasible to completely remove the issue with different solutions and some of the publicly available alternatives are at least heading in the right direction.

The chosen design with the whole business of changing parts based on purpose will probably make the dust problem worse. Perhaps much worse.

I love the smell of cordite but still... ^_^

Looking at the chosen design(s) I don't think the lessons of Apollo are forgotten, I think they're being willfully ignored (no idea why though, except stupidity). The dust issue should be as high up among the priorities as air and temperature control; reactive after-the-fact measures are well and good as last measure backup solutions but the problem should be attacked at the entry level (if not I doubt they'll be able to stay for longer periods of time).

Mike Puckett wrote:

What about a Tyvex cover-all that can be discarded after every EVA?

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Yup that's the right frame of mind and if done the way some have suggested it wouldn't even have to or need to be disposable. And no outside part of it would have to be exposed to the clean inside environment, not even the back panel (in case the design has a solid back panel) if one uses a sort of "layered door" configuration where only the inside of that panel (the clean side) is exposed to the inside environment.

The last issue then becomes any minute quantities of dust trapped in the door seals themselves but perhaps that could be solved by smart design/engineering as well.

There are many possible variations on this theme, for example as a complete suit (what I've seen was this approach, I think it was either from a US university or NASA itself), or simply as a suit layer that connects easily and securely in all the right ways to an inner suit (pretty much the idea you're describing), or combinations of the two (like with a solid back panel). Personally I like the cover-all variations (possibly w/back panel) better as all joints and joint-seams (except one) are protected that way and in addition it would probably be flexible enough to stash away easily (automated) on the outside in a highly volume-efficient manner.

The harder part would be avoiding having one "door" per suit (something which would take too much space) but there should be ways of solving that as well (I can think of a few and I'm sure others can do better).

Refining concepts like these all the way to having some redundancy (like more outer skins than crew) at little cost in mass would be the way to go in my opinion. Stress-test competing implementations from an over-pressurized module in a sand-storm ^_^

Vacuum comes in handy too; when opening the door to a cover-all kind of outer suit it should automatically inflate from the pressure. One could take advantage of this to check for leaks as well as making it easier to climb into. Before closing the door on such a suit it would have to be deflated for storage unless punctured.

This comment only scratches at the details of course, there are plenty of challenges but none seem insurmountable (for example helmet/visor control, various valves and other controls, location/design of suit support systems and air supply and so on and particularly for the cover-all solutions).

Beyond the issue of solving/mitigating entry of lunar dust the next challenge should probably be to make things so that a single person can independently (with some simple mechanical help) put on and remove everything (not really the case for any suits so far).

George Skinner wrote:

On the bright side, the selection of Oceaneering means that the new suit is going to be built by people who are used to the rigors of operating equipment in demanding and hostile environments for years at a time. Commercial divers are careful with their equipment, but their stuff doesn't get pampered like aerospace gear.

Jardinero1 wrote:

I have seen this suit before, it belongs to Major Matt Mason!

The gloves are a different color, but everything else is the same.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 14, 2008 8:46 AM.

Ceding The High Ground was the previous entry in this blog.

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