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Game Changing Development

Next Generation Life Support (NGLS): Variable Oxygen Regulator (VOR)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The objective of the Variable Oxygen Regulator Element is to develop an oxygen-rated, contaminant-tolerant oxygen regulator to control suit pressure with a significantly increased number of pressure set points as compared to the state-of-the-art.

The Variable Oxygen Regulator (VOR) is an oxygen-rated, contaminant-tolerant oxygen regulator for space suit pressure control, with a significantly increased number of pressure set points and range as compared to the state-of-the-art. The current EMU only has two settings that are mechanically controlled through an intricate mechanical linkage. The VOR is a dual-stage regulator in which the second stage uses a stepper motor to control the amount of compression on a spring that is balanced against gas pressure and then controls the size of the orifice that feeds gas into the suit. Using a motor-driven actuator, it allows for continuous control of suit pressure over the range of 0-8.4 psid, compared to the 2 setpoints (~0.9 & 4.3) of the state-of-the-art. The enhanced performance will facilitate and improve EVA operations and prebreathe protocols, allow regulation of suit pressure to match different vehicle pressures including integration with suit ports, allow for in-suit decompression sickness treatment, minimize or eliminate prebreathe durations prior to an EVA, and provide the flexibility to run variable pressure profiles during an EVA.

Comparison of first (1.0), second (2.0) and third (3.0) generation variable oxygen regulator hardware:

VOR 1.0

  • Aluminum Body
  • Bench-top prototype
  • Rated for nitrogen or air
  • COTS components
  • Vacuum/ambient
  • TRL 4

VOR 2.0

  • Monel Body
  • Improved packaging, size
  • Rated for 100% oxygen
  • Contaminant tolerant
  • Improved Components
  • Relevant Environment
  • TRL 5-6

VOR 3.0

  • Monel, improved design
  • Flight-like unit
  • Rated for 100% oxygen
  • Contamination tolerant
  • Flight qualifiable components
  • Controller w/interlocks
  • Relevant Environment
  • TRL 6

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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