Neck-Entry Suitports: A Novel Concept Utilizing Morphing Upper Torso Technology

TitleNeck-Entry Suitports: A Novel Concept Utilizing Morphing Upper Torso Technology
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsJacobs SE, Di Capua M, Akin DL
Conference Name39th International Conference on Environmental Systems
Date Published07/2009
Conference LocationSavannah, GA

This paper describes a unique concept for donning and doffing a spacesuit from a pressurized rover or habitat, which merges three independent concepts: suitports, neck-entry EVA suits, and the Morphing Upper Torso. The union of these concepts creates a novel and exciting suit and suitport system architecture, with many potential benefits over traditional suitport systems. To develop this concept, a neck-entry Morphing Upper Torso experimental model has been designed and fabricated, and systems level design studies have been performed, including visualization with the aid of CAD models of the neck-entry suitport on a small pressurized rover and a lunar habitat. As well, a donning test-station has been developed and used for experiments in 1-G, simulated microgravity and simulated partial gravity. In the partial-gravity experiments, test subjects wore a ballasting garment underwater to simulate the 1/6 gravity lunar environment, and then attempted to ingress and egress through the donning test-station. A mockup suit was designed and built to replicate the geometric features of a pressurized EVA suit attached to a suitport. The dimensions of the torso were chosen to match the expanded state of the Morphing Upper Torso. The geometry, position and angle of the neck-ring, as well as the relative heights of the suit and the donning stand, were adjusted to define a working baseline for the system and to demonstrate the feasibility of the concept. Together with the CAD models and the experimental pressurized Morphing Upper Torso model, the experiments have shown that this concept should be considered for a future suitport and suit architecture, which could greatly simplify the suitport design, minimize volume needed within the rover or habitat, improve PLSS design and servicing, and simplify suit alignment with the suitport during egress from the suit.