The next generation of spacesuits
As humans go forth to explore the solar system, what challenges will designers and users of spacesuits be facing? What will be the missions and operating conditions? A spacesuit system design approach is a response to a need. If the mission is in zero gravity and EVA is being initiated from an Earth-like 14.7-psi (1-atm) environment such as that of the International Space Station, weight is less of a constraint. However, no oxygen prebreathe and the ability to communicate information realtime might be essential to a rapid emergency response. Vehicles and bases for lunar, Martian or other celestial body surface missions will most likely have lower habitat pressures than Earth to minimize launch weight and long-term leakage rates. This favors lower pressure suits that make lighter weight and greater mobility easier to achieve. Working environments, like those encountered on the Moon and Mars, will require durable and robust systems that can operate in extremely dusty conditions. On Mars, the presence of wind-borne dust and convective heat transfer provide additional challenges. Missions to asteroids or the moons of Jupiter will also have their unique requirements that will shape suit system requirements. For distant voyages, launch weight and storage volume may be driving considerations. Suit systems to support these requirements have not yet been developed. The early US and Russian space programs used one suit for both launch/reentry and extravehicular activity. Both the US and Russian space agencies went to separate suit systems once launch vehicle development could support the additional weight and volume of two systems. Is it possible to develop one system to effectively do it all?
KeywordsCelestial Body International Space Station Suit System Storage Volume Unique Requirement
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.