Browse Publications Technical Papers 2006-01-2233

The Development of a Planetary Suit Concept Demonstrator by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium 2006-01-2233

Over a one-year period beginning in March, 2005, and with a materials budget of approximately $25,000, the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium developed a pressurized planetary space suit concept demonstrator in conjunction with institutions of higher education across the state. This project sought to combine educational instruction in space suit design and manufacturing while simultaneously developing a usable test article incorporating technical approaches appropriate to the project's schedule and budgetary constraints. The North Dakota Experimental (NDX) Suit serves as a testbed for new planetary suit materials and component assemblies. Designed around a dual-plane enclosure ring built on a composite hard upper torso (HUT), the NDX is designed for an operating differential pressure of 26.2 kPa. In order to test a two-chamber suit concept, the NDX features a neck dam assembly that divides the helmet breathing cavity from the body below the neck. For safety purposes during testing, this helmet is also quickly removable. All restraint layer joints and fabric assemblies are sewn with readily available materials and equipment and are ruggedly constructed for a long-duration test campaign. Because of the geographical distances between different component groups, all suit assemblies are designed to be modular and adjustable upon final suit integration. The NDX pressure bladder is a sewn fabric garment coated with latex made to the same dimensions as the restraint layer. The NDX features a backpack that conforms to the HUT and houses communications equipment. Life support system gases are provided to the suit through umbilicals from a separate supply. Wireless biomedical sensors mounted inside the suit and helmet monitor such parameters as heart rate, respiration rate, carbon dioxide concentration, oxygen concentration, body temperature, and relative humidity. This telemetry is sent to a base station via a Bluetooth® hub for monitoring and recording. An evaluation program in both a laboratory setting and at a field site is designed to test performance and usability while ensuring safety. Ultimately, this project has provided a baseline set of knowledge for further planetary research and development within the state of North Dakota.


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