Advanced Space Suit Insulation Feasibility Study 2000-01-2479
For planetary applications, the space suit insulation has unique requirements because it must perform in a dynamic mode to protect humans in the harsh dust, pressure and temperature environments. Since the presence of a gaseous planetary atmosphere adds significant thermal conductance to the suit insulation, the current multi-layer flexible insulation designed for vacuum applications is not suitable in reduced pressure planetary environments such as that of Mars. Therefore a feasibility study has been conducted at NASA to identify the most promising insulation concepts that can be developed to provide an acceptable suit insulation. Insulation concepts surveyed include foams, microspheres, microfibers, and vacuum jackets. The feasibility study includes a literature survey of potential concepts, an evaluation of test results for initial insulation concepts, and a development philosophy to be pursued as a result of the initial testing and conceptual surveys. The recommended focus is on microfibers due to the versatility of fiber structure configurations, the wide choice of fiber materials available, the maturity of the fiber processing industry, and past experience with fibers in insulation applications.