Development and Testing Update on the MX-2 Neutral Buoyancy Space Suit Analogue 2004-01-2343
The University of Maryland Space Systems Laboratory has developed a system that replicates some limited aspects of pressure suits to facilitate neutral buoyancy research into EVA bioinstrumentation, advanced EVA training, and EVA/robotic interactions. After a two year upgrade from its MX-1 predecessor, the MX-2 space suit analogue is currently undergoing a variety of system integration tests in preparation for initial operational testing, leading to routine use for EVA simulation and as a testbed for advanced space suit technology. The MX-2 is built around a hard upper torso with integrated hemispherical helmet and rear-entry hatch. Three-layer soft-goods are used for the arms and lower torso, while an open loop air system regulates suit pressure to 3 psid. Wrist disconnects allow the use of standard EMU or Orlan gloves, or experimental gloves such as the mechanical counterpressure gloves and power-assisted gloves developed previously by the SSL. The MX-2 provides a functional simulation of operational pressure suits through a similar outer envelope, comparable joint restrictions, and realistic visual and audio environments. A “dry” interior for bioinstrumentation, a spacious helmet, and several other suit design features allow for advanced research which could not be readily accomplished in operational pressure suits.
This paper presents an update on the design and testing of the MX-2 since the initial report on MX-2 development at the 2002 ICES. A system overview is followed by an analysis of the component level and system integration testing performed to date. Finally, an overview of plans is presented for Space Systems Laboratory research using the MX-2 in the University of Maryland Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility.