Florida Tech, Embry Riddle to Collaborate on Spaceflight Research

A spacesuit is tested as part of the collaboration between Florida Tech and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. (Credit: Florida Tech)

Goal to Improve Human Performance on Flight Decks, in Cabins

MELBOURNE, FLA. (Florida Tech PR) — Florida Institute of Technology and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University have announced a year-long collaboration on research involving spaceflight with the goal of improving human performance inside spacecraft.

The joint effort involves Florida Tech’s Human Spaceflight Lab, or HSF, directed by Ondrej Doule, and Embry-Riddle’s S.U.I.T. (Spacesuit Utilization of Innovative Technology) Lab, and its principal investigator, Ryan Kobrick.

Both labs were founded in 2017 around the need for governmental and commercial research into human spaceflight, and both are directly related to the rapidly evolving space industry. Doule’s lab focuses on spaceship cabin and cockpit system architecture, human system integration, planetary outpost architecture and related simulators design, and Kobrick’s focuses on spacesuit development, performance assessment, human physiology, spacesuit systems design and related operations.

“With the commercial space industry at the beginning stages of operation, we believe this collaborative effort allows for faster research and development of many components critical to the success of human spaceflight,” Doule said.

“I think it’s great we have two universities that bookend the Space Coast region working on human spaceflight together,” Kobrick added.

Their labs’ respective hardware currently complements each other, as well. The S.U.I.T. Lab is equipped with an optical motion tracking system, while the HSF Lab includes a high-fidelity spacesuit trainer and related operational equipment.

Because both labs perform research on spacesuit operations, usability and safety, Kobrick and Doule realized collaboration would be beneficial to both programs.

The shared research is developed around Doule’s topic focused on understanding human performance inside a spaceship’s cabin or cockpit and a need for definition of motion and performance boundary conditions, known as envelopes, using the Florida Tech-owned Final Frontier Design spacesuit.

The spacesuit environment presents a number of physical ergonomic constraints that the researchers are trying to identify. Because the university’s spacesuit is size adjustable, they can study how suit performance changes when it is in different size configurations.

Once all data has been gathered that relates to the spacesuit’s unpressurized and pressurized configurations and motion patterns, it will be shared with industry designers so they can determine the best placement of critical control and display systems.

About Florida Institute of Technology

Celebrating 60 years of relentlessly pursuing greatness, Florida Tech was founded in 1958 at the dawn of the Space Race that would soon define the Atlantic coast of Florida. Now the premier private technological university in the Southeast, Florida Tech is a Tier 1 Best National University in U.S. News & World Report and one of just nine schools in Florida lauded by the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Ranked among the top 5 percent of 18,000 degree-granting institutions worldwide in the 2018-19 World University Rankings and named one of just 14 U.S.-based Golden Age universities in 2018 by Times Higher Education, Florida Tech is one of the nation’s Best Value Colleges as determined by Forbes magazine in 2018. Florida Tech offers undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs in fields of study including engineering, science, aeronautics, business, mathematics, cybersecurity, psychology, space sciences, humanities, communication and education. Learn more at www.fit.edu.