One can transfer safely and quickly between the suit and a sealed vehicle.
A suitlock assembly that comprises a docking fixture and mechanism has been invented to facilitate and accelerate donning and doffing of a sealed protective suit and/or to enable ingress and egress between the protective suit and a sealed vessel. The sealed protective suit could be a space suit, in which case the sealed vessel could be a spacecraft. Alternatively, the sealed suit could be an environmental protective suit of a type worn on Earth during cleanup of a hazardous-material site, in which case the sealed vessel could be a vehicle equipped to maintain a safe interior environment for workers in transit to and from the site. Figure 1 depicts a typical situation in which several crewmembers are working inside such a vehicle, one is working outside in a protective suit, and one is donning or doffing a protective suit while holding onto an overhead bar for support.
The wearer turns a handle (not shown in the figures) at the lower right corner of the suitlock assembly to actuate a cable linkage that, in turn, actuates latches and rack-and-pinion subassemblies at several positions around the periphery of the opening. The overall effect of this action is to detach the PLSS assembly from the suit and the inner hatch cover from the hatch ring and to transfer the PLSS assembly into the hatch. The inner hatch cover and the PLSS assembly can then be taken into the interior of the vehicle to make room for the wearer to leave the suit and enter the vehicle. The foregoing sequence of operations is reversed for a wearer donning the suit and leaving the vehicle.
This work was done by Philip Culbertson, Jr., of Ames Research Center. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics category.
This invention has been patented by NASA (U.S. Patent No. 5,697,108). Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Ames Research Center, (650) 604-5104. Refer to ARC-14102.