A Method for and Issues Associated with the Determination of Space Suit Joint Requirements 2009-01-2537
In the design of a new space suit it is necessary to have requirements that define what mobility space suit joints should be capable of achieving in both a system and at the component level. NASA elected to divide mobility into its constituent parts -- range of motion (ROM) and torque -- in an effort to develop clean design requirements that limit subject performance bias and are easily verified. Unfortunately, the measurement of mobility can be difficult to obtain. Current technologies, such as the Vicon motion capture system, allow for the relatively easy benchmarking of range of motion (ROM) for a wide array of space suit systems. The ROM evaluations require subjects in the suit to accurately evaluate the ranges humans can achieve in the suit. However, when it comes to torque, there are significant challenges for both benchmarking current performance and writing requirements for future suits. This is reflected in the fact that torque definitions have been applied to very few types of space suits and with limited success in defining all the joints accurately. This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages to historical joint torque evaluation methods, describes more recent efforts directed at benchmarking joint torques of prototype space suits, and provides an outline for how NASA intends to address joint torque in design requirements for the Constellation Space Suit System (CSSS).