Casting Technology as Applied to Advanced Space Suit Concepts 911386
Since its inception, the space program has relied heavily upon stitched and cemented fabric goods in fabricating its space suits, and these items have performed satisfactorily. However, with the requirements for future Extra Vehicular Activity, (EVA), missions, and the planning of activities such as the construction of Space Station, Lunar and Martian exploratory missions, its has become apparent through papers given on future space suit design1,2, that some of the fabric portions of space suits may well be replaced with hard goods. This being the case, NASA and other aerospace organizations, have been giving serious thought to designs that utilize either limited hard goods or entire hard suits.
Several engineering and manufacturing technologies, (e.g., CAD/CAM, Finite Element Analysis, soft-tooling and Computerized Numerical Control), have been drawn upon to demonstrate the feasibility of investment cast hard space suit elements, as well as the practical application of this well established technology. In the course of developing several prototypes, it became apparent that machined investment castings are a reliable, accurate and economical means of supplying quality EVA space suit hard goods. The collective experience drawn from producing these prototypes strongly suggests that this methodology could easily be performed on a production basis. It is the intent of this paper to present a case for machined investment castings as an alternate means of providing hard elements for future space suits.