The success of astronauts performing Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) is highly dependent on the performance capabilities of their spacesuit gloves. Thermal protection of crewmember's hands has always been a critical concern but has recently become more important because of the increasing role of the crewmember in the manipulation of objects in the environment of space. The utilization of EVA for challenging missions, such as the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) repair and Space Station assembly missions, has prompted the need for improved glove thermal protection. The increased manipulation of hot and cold objects is necessary to complete these complex missions.
Thermal protection of the spacesuit glove is accomplished by the Thermal and Micrometeoroid Garment (TMG). The TMG is a multilayered cover that fits over the restraint layer of the spacesuit glove. The TMG is engineered to provide thermal protection for crewmember's hands as well as for the glove bladder and restraint. Although the TMG is necessary for thermal protection, it increases crew fatigue and reduces tactility and dexterity because of its bulk. In extreme cases, a thermal mitten can be used over the TMG to enhance thermal performance. However, the performance decrement associated with the bulk of the TMG is magnified with the use of the thermal mitten.
In an effort to improve extravehicular glove thermal performance, decrease hand fatigue and improve tactility and dexterity performance, several design enhancements have been developed, tested and incorporated into the spacesuit glove. This paper addresses design enhancements, glove TMG evolution, thermal performance testing methods, test results and future concepts for thermal performance improvements.