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Advanced Exploration Systems Division

Logistics Reduction: Advanced Clothing System (ACS) (LR-ACS)

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

The goals of the Exploration Capabilities (EC) Logistics Reduction (LR) project's Advanced Clothing System (ACS) element are to reduce mass and volume of the clothing system and to meet new requirements for textiles for exploration missions.  Advanced commercial off-the-shelf fibers (COTS) and treatments can be leveraged to directly reduce the mass and volume of astronaut clothing. The textile industry has made significant progress with new fiber blends and garment finishing. The ACS team is also working on new ways to efficiently clean clothing and other textiles in mission as a way to reduce the burden of resupplying new, clean clothes. An example of new requirements for the ACS team to address is achieving fire safety for textiles in higher oxygen atmospheres expected in planetary missions.

The current clothing state-of-the-art on the International Space Station (ISS) is disposable, mostly cotton-based, clothing with no laundry provisions. Each clothing article has varying use periods and will become trash. The goal is to increase the length of wear of the clothing to reduce the logistical mass and volume.

The ACS technology is a continuation from the Logistics Reduction and Repurposing project ( https://techport.nasa.gov/view/10577 ). The initial focus was exercise clothing and routine wear tops since the use period is shorter. A ground-based experiment was conducted to evaluate current and lighter weight COTS exercise clothing and antimicrobial treatments to investigate if they could be used for longer periods of time. The best performers were selected for an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) - Intravehicular Activity (IVA) Clothing Study. The experiment was conducted during ISS increments 39 through 41 with six crew members. A laundry trade-off study was conducted to quantify how longer-wear clothing changes the break-even point for laundering vs. clothing disposal. The analysis indicates that use of ACS selected garments (e.g. wool, modacrylic, polyester) can increase the breakeven point for laundry to about 300 days. Past ACS studies also investigated lint reduction and microbial behavior on textiles.  Several SBIR companies have investigated coatings to improve wear and laundering of clothing.

In FY20 RFID Clothing tags were selected for clothing demo and data collection in long-term testing opportunities.  In FY20 - FY22, the project worked under a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with an industry leader in hygiene products to develop the best cleaning agent for use in space laundry (applies to planetary or microgravity missions, though the washing machine hardware will likely be different.) Other work includes comparing laundry with low- or no-water clothes “freshening” technologies.  In early FY22, wastewater and specially formulated detergent were successfully processed in prototype lunar bioreactors.  Later in FY22, there is a planned demonstration of clothing/textile stain treatment on ISS by our SAA industry partner.   

Since FY21 the SBIR program has been used to accelerate development of textiles for the higher oxygen environments planned for Artemis missions. LR also completed a phase IIE extension of the SBIR “Electrochemical Peroxide Generation” with Faraday Technology, Inc. By generating hydrogen peroxide in situ, mass of disposable disinfectant wipes can be reduced by launching them dry and wetting on-orbit. Ultimately, this technology could lead to reusable wipes when a clothes-washing system is available.

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