This paper describes the effort performed by Oceaneering Space Systems, Air-Lock, Inc., Raven Aerospace Technology, Inc., and David Clark Company, Inc. to develop lightweight and low-profile spacesuit bearings. Current spacesuit bearings constitute a significant portion of the spacesuit mass and reducing this weight will improve extravehicular activity (EVA) capabilities and reduce launch mass. Reducing the profile of the bearings will increase crew comfort in the suit on long duration missions.
The recommended concepts for the waist, scye (shoulder), arm, and wrist bearings share the same basic configuration to achieve weight reduction and a low profile with little technical risk. The bulk structural material is a lightweight carbon/epoxy composite. The bearing race material is 440C stainless steel for wear resistance and hardness. Many features of existing spacesuit bearings were retained to minimize technical risk. The full complement of waist, scye, arm, and wrist bearings will weigh 9.0 lbs, an 18.2 pound improvement over current extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) bearings.