Tasks being performed during manned space missions often require astronauts to work outside the controlled environment of the spacecraft. Such Extravehicular Activity (EVA) is accomplished through the use of pressure gloves, one component of a Space Suit Assembly (SSA).
The increasing frequency of Space Shuttle flights and intricacy of EVA tasks have placed more stringent performance requirements on SSA gloves than on gloves of the Apollo era. This paper discusses the improvements in joint design, materials, and process technology which have enhanced SSA glove performance since Apollo, resulting in a convergence of glove performance with the needs of the present day.
Structural and protective requirements for the SSA glove include pressure retention, the capacity to withstand pressure-induced and man-induced loads, thermal protection, and high joint cycle life. The challenge of SSA glove design lies in maintaining conformance to these requirements while improving the features which promote productive work in space, i.e., mobility (low joint torque), tactility, comfort, and sizing.