Spacesuit Soft Upper Torso Sizing Systems

This system has application in medical devices for immobilizing injured limbs or applying controlled pressure to areas of the body of a burn victim.

The passive sizing system consists of a series of low-profile pulleys attached to the front and back of the shoulder bearings on a spacesuit soft upper torso (SUT), textile cord or stainless steel cable, and a modified commercial ratchet mechanism. The cord/cable is routed through the pulleys and attached to the ratchet mechanism mounted on the front of the spacesuit within reach of the suited subject. Upon actuating the ratchet mechanism, the shoulder bearing breadth is changed, providing variable upper torso sizing.

The active system consists of a series of pressurizable nastic cells embedded into the fabric layers of a spacesuit SUT. These cells are integrated to the front and back of the SUT and are connected to an air source with a variable regulator. When inflated, the nastic cells provide a change in the overall shoulder bearing breadth of the spacesuit and thus, torso sizing.

The research focused on the development of a high-performance sizing and actuation system. This technology has application as a suit-sizing mechanism to allow easier suit entry and more accurate suit fit with fewer torso sizes than the existing EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) suit system. This advanced SUT will support NASA’s Advanced EMU Evolutionary Concept of a two-sizes-fitall upper torso for replacement of the current EMU hard upper torso (HUT).

Both the passive and nastic sizing system approaches provide astronauts with real-time upper torso sizing, which translates into a more comfortable suit, providing enhanced fit resulting in improved crewmember performance during extravehicular activity. These systems will also benefit NASA by reducing flight logistics as well as overall suit system cost. The nastic sizing system approach provides additional structural redundancy over existing SUT designs by embedding additional coated fabric and uncoated fabric layers.

Two sizing systems were selected to build into a prototype SUT: one active and one passive. From manned testing, it was found that both systems offer good solutions to sizing a SUT to fit a crewmember. This new system provided improved suit don/doff over existing spacesuit designs as well as providing better fit at suit operational pressure resulting in improved comfort and mobility.

It was found that a SUT with a sizing system may solve several problems that have plagued existing HUT designs, and that a SUT with a sizing system may be a viable option for advanced suit architectures.

This work was done by David Graziosi and Keith Splawn of ILC Dover, Inc. for Johnson Space Center. MSC-24928-1

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