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Center Innovation Fund: JSC CIF

Coupled Human-Space Suit Mobility Studies

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Current EVA mobility studies only allow for comparisons of how the suit moves when actuated by a human and how the human moves when unsuited. There are now new wireless inertial measurement units (IMUs) that are small enough to be worn in pockets of the space suit undergarments to provide real-time data on the postures and joint angles assumed by the suited test subject as they conduct simulated EVA tasks.  The proposed development is to use the new IMUs with the data collection system that can synch across 32 human worn sensors and simultaneously link to the Vicon MX data collected from externally mounted suit reflectors.  This will provide the first time-linked data sets for internal and external movements during suited mobility assessments.  By understanding human-suit interaction, we can identify space  suit design parameters to optimize EVA performance and reduce injury risk associated with fit and posture issues that can be implemented in EMU upgrades and future exploration suits.

The space suit is arguably the most intimate piece of space flight hardware yet we know surprisingly little about the interactions between the astronaut and this machine.  Current EVA mobility studies only allow for comparisons of how the suit moves when actuated by a human and how the human moves when unsuited. Over decades, engineering and science teams have attempted to bridge this gap using tools from live x-rays to shape tape to pressure sensors but none of these technologies have proved to be both safe and reliable. However, there are now new wireless inertial measurement units (IMUs) that are small enough to be worn in pockets of the space suit undergarments to provide real-time data on the postures and joint angles assumed by the suited test subject as they conduct simulated EVA tasks.   Thus the proposed development is to use the new IMUs with the data collection system that can synch across 32 human worn sensors and simultaneously link to the Vicon MX data collected from externally mounted suit reflectors.  Initially, success of this project will be measured by the ability to transmit the wireless signals through the pressurized suit without significant loss of signal or distortion and the development of software code to accurately describe the motion of joint segments during simulated EVA tasks.  Follow on efforts will provide the first time linked data sets for internal and external movements during suited mobility assessments. 

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.

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