Common Helmet Design for Launch, Entry, & Abort and EVA Activities – A Discussion on the Design and Selection Process of Helmets for Future Manned Flight
Effective helmet performance is a critical component to achieving safe and efficient missions along the entire timeline; from launch and entry events to operations in a micro-gravity environment to exploration of a planetary surface, the helmet system is the capstone of the pressurized space suit assembly. Each phase of a mission requires uncompromising protection in the form of a robust pressure vessel and adequate protection from impact, both interior and exterior, all while remaining relatively comfortable and providing excellent visual interaction with the environment. Historically there have been large voids between these critical characteristics with the primary focus concerning the pressure vessel first and impact protection and crew comfort second. ILC Dover, NASA-JSC, Gentex Corporation, and Hamilton Sundstrand formed an Integrated Product Team (IPT) and conducted a NASA funded study to research and evaluate new concepts in helmet design.