A Comparison of Pressure Suit Systems Architectures for the Space Exploration Enterprise 2006-01-2135
The space exploration enterprise that will lead to human exploration on Mars requires pressure suit system capabilities and characteristics that change significantly over time and between different missions and mission phases. These capabilities must be provided within tight budget constraints and severely limited launch mass and volume, and at a pace that supports NASA's over-all exploration timeline. As a result, it has not been obvious whether the use of a single pressure suit system (like Apollo) or combinations of multiple pressure suit designs (like Shuttle) will offer the best balance among life cycle cost, risk, and performance. Because the answer to this question is pivotal for the effective development of pressure suit system technologies that will met NASA's needs, ILC and Hamilton Sundstrand engineers have collaborated in an independent study to identify and evaluate the alternatives.
Our study has included consideration of pressure suit system design requirements, trade criteria and their relative importance, architectural alternatives, and potential design solutions for their implementation. Requirements were analyzed for key missions and mission phases from initial CEV flights to Mars surface exploration, and nine different architectural approaches to meeting those requirements through the life of the enterprise were developed. Implementation possibilities were defined based on a review of both historical design precedents (e.g. Gemini, Apollo, MOL, EMU, Orlan) and emerging technologies and design concepts and used as a realistic basis for evaluating each architectural option. This paper discusses the execution and results of our study and potential implications for subsequent pressure suit system designs and technology development needs.