Wearing Mars and Moon spacesuit prototypes


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An evening pause: This video to me was interesting because it illustrated (though the reporter either does not realize it or is being kind by not mentioning it) how poorly designed both these suits are. They require a crew to put on something that would be impractical on either the Moon or Mars, and appears heavy and clumsy. For Mars especially a much lighter and more natural suit is going to be essential. This is not it, though I am sure it is a worthwhile first attempt.

Hat tip Edward Thelen.

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9 comments

  • LocalFluff

    The suitport is such a great idea. And not far off from von Braun’s idea about an individual spacecraft for EVAs. Unfortunately NASA took another turn. There’s maybe some history to be told about NASA’s space suit mistake.

  • Dick Eagleson

    To this point, I didn’t even know Loren Grush was female, let alone an uber-cute and perky, dimpled, peaches-and-cream ginger. I can see the rest of my day is going to be shot watching all the videos of her I can find.

  • wayne

    Dick–
    HA.
    Whatever happened to that cutie announcer girl from SpaceX? (Miss Tice, I think it was–something like that, haven’t seen her for the last few launches.)

  • Tom D

    One of the bigger weaknesses of The Martian (at least for this engineer) was how very, very many spacewalks he did without any problems at all (other than the initial skewering with an antenna). His spacesuit never wore out in any way. It got punctured by an antenna and the faceplate cracked, but no zippers or connectors ever broke. He never never wore out the gloves or even got blisters!

    Spacesuits should definitely be improved in the future (love that suitport), but I don’t think they will ever become as routine as putting on a coat. At least not until magic-tech is developed to give the user some sort of dynamically adjusting second skin. Even then you will still need a helmet and life support system. Spacewalking should be easier than deep-sea diving, but it will still take care and attention.

    Tele-operating equipment by VR or otherwise from within your vehicle or habitat looks pretty attractive to me though you will still have to deal with wear and tear issues. Perhaps the tele-operating equipment will wear out quicker than a spacesuit. Maybe, but I doubt it.

  • Dick Eagleson

    wayne,

    Yeah, I miss Ms. Tice too.

  • pzatchok

    Why does NASA still insist on putting legs and feet on space walking suits?
    Exactly where do they think they are walking to?

    All they need is a tube with a helmet and arms.

  • ken anthony

    Spacesuits need to be priced below $100k. Inflating fabric is about the worst idea. There are four distinct part of a spacesuit plus the life support pack. The body should be a hard suit; cheap and indestructible and easier for colonists to manufacture compared to fabrics. It should have it’s own temperature regulation, rechargeable batteries and water supply (the temperature regulation fluid should be very low or no maintenance and isolated from the drinking water supply.) Other parts of the suit would have heat exchangers with the body.

    The life support pack should have a standard interface to the body that all manufacturers can design to. It may just supply breathable air as the hard body provides temperature maintenance, but it could also do much more.

    The body provides drinking water so the helmet doesn’t. The helmet would have radio and navigation built in. It will have a display that may or not be heads up. It may not even have a transparent face plate using cameras instead.

    The detachable arms should be a skin suit. This would greatly reduce the fatigue experienced. Alternatively they could be waldos with their own power supply. Any number of arms from none, one or many could be interchangeable. Each arm could be of a different design.

    The legs are a foot controlled mobility unit. Basically a robot with many interchangeable designs (treads, spider legs, etc.) They are one size fits all and likely traded between colonists for different uses (sort of like used cars.)

    Different parts of the suit could provide redundant features for safety.

    Alternately, the space suit may not be a suit at all but a very small one person craft with multiple detachable arms.

  • Dick Eagleson

    pzatchok,

    I don’t disagree. Perhaps even NASA doesn’t disagree at this point. But the EVA suits in use on ISS were designed and built ages ago. I know of no definite plans in the works to replace them. There’s also the matter of ISS being studded with foot restraints designed to work with the existing suits. Maybe when there’s a new commercial station we’ll see some new commercial EVA suits. I hope so.

    ken,

    Agree about the hard shell and modularity. Skin suits are an interesting idea, but must be bespoke to work and doing any sort of partial skin suit is a lot tougher than doing the whole thing. So I think hard suits are going to be the future. Mostly composites to keep the mass down. An individual would be custom-fitted using standard pieces available in a variety of sizes/lengths. Specialized uppers and lowers, as per your suggestion, should be made to interface to, or replace, the standard upper and lower torso.

  • ken anthony

    Standard modules and interfaces would encourage creative designs from different “mix-and-match” vendors. Certainly seals between modules would be an issue but worth the design effort in a vendor flexibility payoff down the road I’d think.

    A complete body skin suit might simply be the first layer. An arm seal then being used rather than other arm options… but that could have other disadvantages?

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