A paper discusses a dual-compartment inflatable suitlock (DCIS) for Extra-vehicular Activity (EVA) that will allow for dust control, suit maintenance, and efficient EVA egress/ingress. The expandable (inflatable technologies) aspect of the design will allow the unit to stow in a compact package for transport.
The DCIS consists of three hard, inline bulkheads, separating two cylindrical membrane-walled compartments. The inner bulkhead can be fitted with a variety of hatch types, docking flanges, and mating hardware, such as the common berthing mechanism (CBM), for the purpose of mating with vehicles, habitats, and other pressurized modules. The inner bulkhead and center bulkhead function as the end walls of the inner compartment, which, during operations, would stay pressurized, either matching the pressure of the habitat or acting as a lower-pressure transitional volume. The suited crewmember can quickly don a suit, and egress the suitlock without waiting for the compartment to depressurize. The outer compartment can be pressurized infrequently, when a long dwell time is expected prior to the next EVA, or during off-nominal suit maintenance tasks, allowing “shirtsleeve” inspections and maintenance of the space suits. The outer bulkhead has a pressureassisted hatch door that stays open and stowed routinely, but can be closed for suit maintenance and pressurization as needed.
This work was done by A. Scott Howe of Caltech, and Kriss J. Kennedy, Peggy L. Guirgis, and Robert M. Boyle of Johnson Space Center for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.