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Advanced Exploration Systems Division

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

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

The goal of the Advanced Exploration System (AES) Logistics Reduction (LR) project's Advanced Clothing System (ACS) is to use advanced commercial off-the-shelf fibers (COTS) and antimicrobial treatments 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 leveraging existing state-of-the-art technology from private industry to make advancements in the crew wardrobe.  There is not a clear measure of how the newer fibers contribute to longer wear in a microgravity shirt sleeve environment.  The ACS provides a means of comparing varying fabrics through a series of controlled conditions.

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. 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. ACS studies also investigated lint reduction and microbial behavior on textiles.  The ACS task also investigated the subtasks of alternative laundry and clothing sanitation technologies in FY16 and FY17.  In FY18-19, internal NASA technology testing began evaluation of technologies that will then notionally begin development in FY20 in parallel with new SBIR/STTR requests in key areas.

Several SBIR companies have investigated coatings to improve wear and laundering of clothing over the ACS time period.

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