Alignment with the Vision for Space Exploration: Green Flag

The FPDS project is well connected to its customers because fire prevention, detection, and suppression will remain important subjects in all missions envisioned in the VSE. However, the technology is not highly rated on the needs scale because it has already been pursued for several years on the space shuttle and the ISS, and the knowledge is advanced. This work seems to entail an ongoing process that incrementally adds to the knowledge base with no critical point at which it must be completed.

Due to the emphasis on the zero- and low-gravity nature of the application, this is a “NASA-only” technology with no outside effort, except for NASA contracts, to sustain it. It is a pay-as-you-go activity that primarily serves only one mission: human spaceflight.

17
EXTRAVEHICULAR ACTIVITY TECHNOLOGIES

Objective

The capability for humans to work on the lunar surface is a required component of the lunar mission architecture. EVA technologies, including life support systems, suit materials, anthropometric optimization, power systems, and data systems, are critical technologies that will enable humans to walk and work on the surface of the Moon and Mars. The Constellation Program EVA Systems project, in conjunction with the ETDP, will develop these required technologies, which will be grouped by the following suit systems: Pressure Garment; Life Support; and Power, Communications, Avionics, and Informatics (PCAI) systems.

Status

Presentations to the committee on the EVA suit technology deferred critical systems, such as the Pressure Garment, to the Constellation Program with no clear identification of the developers, the state of research, the responsible party for final oversight of the system, the TRL of the integrated system, risk assessment, and so on. There did not appear to be an adequate transfer of decades of knowledge and operational-technical experience into the new suit development with respect to the relationship between anthropometric design and scaling of systems. For example, without the periodic exchange of this information, it is possible that the independent design of the subsystems could drive the anthropometric design of the suit, rather than the human operational requirements, or that there could be other incompatibilities, thereby significantly degrading both lunar and Mars surface operations. Additionally, the involvement of low-TRL research from universities seemed largely absent.

Ratings

Quality: Yellow Flag

All the elements of the EVA Technologies project have appropriate utility, and the objectives are well understood. The project team has a good mix of experience and energy, and the enthusiasm for the effort points to good execution. Very few breakthrough technologies or innovations were considered or presented to the committee. The following comments are made with regard to various subprojects:

  • The packaging effort for the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) should seek expertise in penetration and shock protection that exists outside NASA—a physical test-based program by itself will not achieve the packaging and weight-reduction goals. Collaboration with ergonomic and human factors experts would sharpen the weight reduction goals.

  • Suit Water Membrane Evaporator technology is developed from previous NASA research and is sound, but it offers no breakthroughs.

  • Rapid Cycle Amine: there is a need for better understanding of toxicity issues.



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