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Technical Paper

Virtual Reality Control of On-Orbit Spacecraft

The Ranger Telerobotic Flight Experiment is a highly complex teleoperated spacecraft, requiring direct human control of 36 major degrees of freedom. The University of Maryland Space Systems Laboratory and the NASA Ames Research Center are cooperating on the development of a virtual reality control station to streamline human interfaces with the Ranger spacecraft. This describes the design and integration of the Ranger Command Chair, a system incorporating fully immersive helmet-mounted stereo displays with head tracking, hand tracking for direct positional control, and supplemental controls and displays to allow a single operator to functionally control the entire vehicle. This system is currently undergoing tests with the Ranger Neutral Buoyancy Vehicle, a functionally identical vehicle used for systems development and flight operations simulations.
Technical Paper

System Overview and Operations of the MX-2 Neutral Buoyancy Space Suit Analogue

A fully operational space suit analogue for use in a neutral buoyancy environment has been developed and tested by the University of Maryland’s Space Systems Laboratory. Repeated manned operations in the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility have shown the MX-2 suit analogue to be a realistic simulation of operational EVA pressure suits. The suit is routinely used for EVA simulation, providing reasonable joint restrictions, work envelopes, and visual and audio environments comparable to those of current EVA suits. Improved gloves and boots, communications carrier assembly, in-suit drink bag and harness system have furthered the semblance to EVA. Advanced resizing and ballasting systems have enabled subjects ranging in height from 5′8″ to 6′3″ and within a range of 120 lbs to obtain experience in the suit. Furthermore, integral suit instrumentation facilitates monitoring and collection of critical data on both the suit and the subject.
Technical Paper

Development and Initial Testing of a Space Suit Simulator for Neutral Buoyancy

The Maryland Advanced Research/Simulation (MARS) Suit is designed to be a low-cost test bed for extravehicular activity (EVA) research, providing an environment for the development and application of biomedical sensors and advanced EVA technologies. It is also designed to be used in gaining more experience with human-telerobotic interactions in an integrated EVA worksite. This paper details the first generation MARS Suit (MX-1) design, describes the low-cost development process, and presents results from ongoing suit testing, as well as plans for future work.
Technical Paper

Evaluation of a Hybrid Elastic EVA Glove

The hybrid elastic design is based upon an American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) glove designed by at the Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) in 1985. This design uses an elastic restraint layer instead of convolute joints to achieve greater dexterity and mobility during EVA (extravehicular activity). Two pilot studies and a main study were conducted using the hybrid elastic glove and a 4000-series EMU (extravehicular activity unit) glove. Data on dexterity performance, joint range of motion, grip strength and perceived exertion was assessed for the EMU and hybrid elastic gloves with correlations to a barehanded condition. During this study, 30 test subjects performed multiple test sessions using a hybrid elastic glove and a 4000-series shuttle glove in a 4.3psid pressure environment. Test results to date indicate that the hybrid elastic glove performance is approximately similar to the performance of the 4000-series glove.
Technical Paper

Development and Testing Update on the MX-2 Neutral Buoyancy Space Suit Analogue

The University of Maryland Space Systems Laboratory has developed a system that replicates some limited aspects of pressure suits to facilitate neutral buoyancy research into EVA bioinstrumentation, advanced EVA training, and EVA/robotic interactions. After a two year upgrade from its MX-1 predecessor, the MX-2 space suit analogue is currently undergoing a variety of system integration tests in preparation for initial operational testing, leading to routine use for EVA simulation and as a testbed for advanced space suit technology. The MX-2 is built around a hard upper torso with integrated hemispherical helmet and rear-entry hatch. Three-layer soft-goods are used for the arms and lower torso, while an open loop air system regulates suit pressure to 3 psid. Wrist disconnects allow the use of standard EMU or Orlan gloves, or experimental gloves such as the mechanical counterpressure gloves and power-assisted gloves developed previously by the SSL.