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ISS Update: Zero Gravity Suit Tests (Part 2) — 08.02.12

September 25, 2019


>>We’re back at Ellington. [phonetic] We talked
earlier about the suit that they’re testing
this week, the modified, what’s called the ACES suit
for the Space Shuttle Program that they’re now getting
ready for the Orion Program and here we have Dustin Gohmert
here to tell us a little bit about the tests that they’re
actually doing with that suit so one of the things
involves this seat, right?>>Dustin Gohmert: That’s right. The seat was essentially
designed around the suit. We knew that that suit,
or a very similar version of that suit, would be
ultimately used in Orion and so we built it around the
suit but what we did additional to that is that was we built it
so it’s adjustable to fit people who range from heights of say
4 foot 9 to 6 1/2 feet tall. And so there’s a huge
range of adjustability. But by doing that to make
the Orion operable we had to put everyone so
that they would fit with basically the
same eye point so when they laid their
head in there they looked at the display the same no
matter what height you are. Well to do that we make
this seat, the seat pan that you actually
sit in, adjustable up and down the access
of their body. Well the testing we needed to
do was show that if we were in orbit and had a
depressed cabin contingency, well the first thing we do
is we’d get into our suit. Obviously that’s the
most important thing. And then after that you have to
get into the seat to come home, because that’s the next
most important thing. Well the suit gets large, it
grows quite a bit around you as it inflates so
to ingress the seat and the stiff enlarged suit, we
are testing different options for how to make this
seat more maneuverable on orbit [background
noise] so one of the things that we did was look
at different levels of adjustability so that we
could translate our bodies into the seat in
the pressurized suit and buckle ourselves
in for the ride home.>>Okay and I think we
actually have some footing of those tests taking place on the zero gravity
fly so we can show you. But the idea is that there
will be four of these seats in the Orion, correct?>>Dustin Gohmert:
That’s correct. So this is just, this would
actually be seat two of four, the way it’s set up with
the displays above it but you can imagine another
seat directly to the left of it and then two more
positioned directly below it so there’s a grid work
of seats that are laid out in the vehicle, one
mirroring this one exactly. And then if you can imagine,
the folks who are below it, their heads are actually below
the feet of the pilot commander who are flying above them.>>So you know the Orion
is reasonably large for a spacecraft but still
a pretty small space, a lot of difficulty
maneuvering around, especially when you’ve
got the bulk suits on.>>Dustin Gohmert:
That’s correct. A large spacecraft is still
relatively compact compared to what we’re used to in and
the free volume that we have with the luxury of
being in here. And when the suit inflates
around the person, each person, you can imagine, expands
almost double their volume and so it gets tight
very quickly. And so we have to make the
most creative use of this space as possible to allow them to ingress the seats
for a safe trip home.>>And I guess you know we can
do that a lot here on the ground but having the microgravity
simulation is probably a big help.>>Dustin Gohmert: It’s a
huge help for us because one of the things we get
in 1G environment, the earth’s gravity
environment we’re in right now, is we get the affects
of stability. We can’t spin out of control. We can’t lose our
grip and fly off. And so the zero gravity
environment, it gives us that real true sense
of how the suit will perform when we have that instability
and we have to fight to put ourselves in the
proper position and lay in the seat to get home.>>Okay it’s probably worthwhile to explain how we
simulate that zero gravity. We get the suit and the
subjects in an airplane and they fly in parabolas.>>Dustin Gohmert:
That’s correct.>>So you get a few seconds
of zero gravity floating as you go down, similar to how
you, when you go down a hill in a rollercoaster, right?>>Dustin Gohmert: That’s right. So the plane will pull
up at extreme angle. During that time the gravity
is actually relatively intense. It’s about 1.8 times
what we’re feeling so you’re very heavy
during that period. But when it gets to the top,
to the apex of that parabola, it dives down and it dives
at such a controlled rate that you fall inside the
aircraft at the same rate that the aircraft is diving
so you essentially float, free falling but you’re
floating inside the aircraft so very similar to what
a zero G environment is.>>Okay and how did
the tests go this week?>>Dustin Gohmert: It went,
actually it went very well. We had great luck in proving
out the theory’s that we had on how the person in the
suit would ingress the seat. And we learned quite a bit
about the mobility of the suit for non-seated but
translation like operations for perhaps contingency
tasks so we would look at it in future scenarios
and future missions.>>Okay do you need to do
these again before you’re ready to fly or?>>Dustin Gohmert: I think from what we learned we’ll
probably do a few iterations of design work before
we get there but this gave us the capability to learn what the
baseline performance of this suit is relatively
unmodified from a shuttle variant and also
give us an idea of what we need to do to tweak it to
make it really perfect for the Orion capsule.>>And I know you
have some other tests that you’ll be performing
as the work progresses?>>Dustin Gohmert:
That’s correct. We started in TSC in building
nine in the ARGOS Environment, Adaptive Response
Gravity Offload Simulator.>>Right.>>Dustin Gohmert: And
so you essentially hang from your belly very similar
to Mission Impossible style.>>Okay.>>Dustin Gohmert:
And you can float around in a frictionless
environment. But what we don’t have is the
full degrees of freedom you get in true weightlessness and so
we use that as a starting point to get to this environment. And then we used this
environment to give us a feel for how realistic that was. That being a much more benign
environment we can test over and over again rapidly
and we plan to use that for our development
cycle and then use the flight for some more of our
validations of performance and more high tech or more
realistic environment.>>Alright well hopefully we’ll
see more of that coming up.>>Dustin Gohmert: We hope so.>>Thanks so much for
talking with us, Dustin.>>Dustin Gohmert: Thank you.>>We’ll go back now
to Mission Control and live coverage
of Life in Space. Thanks. [ Silence ]

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