Another Orion Worry: Spacesuits

Spacewalker Kate Rubins works outside the International Space Station with the SpaceX Dragon space freighter just below her. (Credit: NASA TV)

The NASA Office of Inspector General has published another audit of the agency’s human spaceflight effort, and  the watchdog has found yet another area of concern: spacesuits being developed for Orion deep-space missions and the aging ones on the International Space Station.

“Despite spending nearly $200 million on NASA’s next-generation spacesuit technologies, the Agency remains years away from having a flight-ready spacesuit capable of replacing the EMU or suitable for use on future exploration missions,” the audit states. “As different missions require different designs, the lack of a formal plan and specific destinations for future missions has complicated spacesuit development. Moreover, the Agency has reduced the funding dedicated to spacesuit development in favor of other priorities such as an in-space habitat….

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Boeing Unveils Starliner Spacesuit

starliner_spacesuit_montage
By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Astronauts heading into orbit aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft will wear lighter and more comfortable spacesuits than earlier suits astronauts wore. The suit capitalizes on historical designs, meets NASA requirements for safety and functionality, and introduces cutting-edge innovations. Boeing unveiled its spacesuit design Wednesday as the company continues to move toward flight tests of its Starliner spacecraft and launch systems that will fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

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Final Frontier Design Delivers MCP Gloves to NASA

Closeup screenshot of FFD’s pressure visualization and video documentation setup. (Credit: Final Frontier Design)
Closeup screenshot of FFD’s pressure visualization and video documentation setup. (Credit: Final Frontier Design)

BROOKLYN, NY, October 28, 2016 (FFD PR) – Final Frontier Design (FFD) has delivered a pair of functional Mechanical Counter Pressure (MCP) gloves to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. This marks a major milestone in FFD’s fixed-price contract with NASA for MCP gloves and represents a promising alternative in space suit pressure garment design.

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FFD Completes Round of Spacesuit Testing with Project PoSSUM

Infrared cam shot of PoSSUM Academy participants Michael Long and Abdelraouf Elwaqad testing FFD space suits in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s suborbital spaceflight simulator. (Credit: Nicholas Mercury Carlstrom)
Infrared cam shot of PoSSUM Academy participants Michael Long and Abdelraouf Elwaqad testing FFD space suits in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s suborbital spaceflight simulator. (Credit: Nicholas Mercury Carlstrom)

BROOKLYN, NY, May 3, 2016 (FFD PR) – Last month, Final Frontier Design (FFD) completed another round of space suit testing in Daytona, Florida as part of Project PoSSUM, in conjunction with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU).

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Integrated Spaceflight Services Completes First Commercial Spacesuit Zero G Test

Evaluation of spacesuit in zero gravity.
Evaluation of spacesuit in zero gravity. (Credit: ISS)

OTTAWA, Ont., October 29, 2015 (ISS PR) — Integrated Spaceflight Services LLC (‘ISS’) of Boulder, Colo. announced today that it has completed the first zero g evaluation of a commercial spacesuit. The 3G IVA spacesuit, manufactured by Final Frontier Design (‘FFD’) of Brooklyn, N.Y., was tested through four zero g flights on a specially-modified Falcon 20 research aircraft..

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NASA’s High Performance EVA Glove Development Program

Prototype outer glove protective layer. (Credit: NASA)
Prototype outer glove protective layer. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Fact Sheet
Space Technology Game Changing Development
Next Generation Life Support: High Performance EVA Glove

NASA’s future missions involve deep space exploration to places where humans have not gone before. This poses many new challenges for which the existing astronaut extravehicu­lar activity (EVA) gloves are not designed. Current gloves are limited to use outside the International Space Station where the environment is relatively pristine and free from the debris and dust present in lunar, planetary and asteroid environments. Thermal conditions may also vary and require different technological approaches to ensure that the astronauts are protected. In addition to environmental differences that may necessitate design changes to the glove, hand injuries are one of the most common injuries that astronauts face. Over the past two decades, gloves have accounted for 47% of all reported injuries. While gloves have been modified over the years to address these issues, they are due for a full redesign.

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Final Frontier Design Wins NASA Spacesuit Glove Contract

FFD evaluating tactility of an early-stage MCP glove prototype in delta pressure conditions. (Credit: Final Frontier Design)
FFD evaluating tactility of an early-stage MCP glove prototype in delta pressure conditions. (Credit: Final Frontier Design)

BROOKLYN, NY, August 24, 2015 (FFD PR) – Last week, Final Frontier Design (FFD) was awarded its first fixed-price contract for the delivery of a functioning mechanical counter pressure (MCP) glove system next Summer.

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Dava Newman Approved as NASA Deputy Administrator

Dava J. Newman
Dava J. Newman

The Senate has approved Dava J. Newman as NASA’s new deputy administrator by an 87-0 vote. The approval comes 20 months after Lori Garver left the position for the top staff job at the Air Line Pilots Association.

Newman is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [Biography] The White House nominated her for the position in October.

“It’s an enormous honor to serve at NASA in times when our country is extending humanity’s reach into space while strengthening American leadership here on Earth,” Newman said in a statement. “I’m profoundly grateful to President Obama, the United States Senate, and Administrator Bolden – along with everyone at MIT. I can’t wait to come aboard.”

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Final Frontier Design to Collaborate With NASA on Spacesuits

Spacesuit pressurization (Credit: Final Frontier Design)
Spacesuit pressurization (Credit: Final Frontier Design)

BROOKLYN, NY and HOUSTON (FFD PR) — Final Frontier Design (FFD) is proud to announce the signing of a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA to collaborate on the development, design review, and testing of its launch and re-entry space suit for orbital space flight.

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This Week on The Space Show

This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Dec. 22, 2014: 2:00-3:30PM PST (5:00-& 6:30 PM EST, 4:00-5:30 PM CST): GOLDEN OLDIE IN ADVANCE OF THE TOM OLSON 2014 YEAR IN REVIEW SHOW ON DEC. 30. The show today is Tom’s 2011 Space Year in review program. We will be replaying the 2011, 2012 and 2013 review shows prior to the live 2014 review. Take notes, see how accurate our discussion was year by year. When you see the program archived on the website and blog, it is ready for play.

2. Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014:,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome TED SOUTHERN of Final Frontier Design, a commercial spacesuit company. Visit /www.finalfrontierdesign.com.

3. Friday, Dec. 29, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30-1 PM CST): GOLDEN OLDIE IN ADVANCE OF THE TOM OLSON 2014 YEAR IN REVIEW SHOW ON DEC. 30. The show today is Tom’s 2012 Space Year in review program. We will be replaying the 2011, 2012 and 2013 review shows prior to the live 2014 review. Take notes, see how accurate our discussion was year by year. When you see the program archived on the website and blog, it is ready for play. .

4. Sunday, Dec.28, 2014, 9:30-11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST, 11:30 AM – 1 PM CST): OPEN LINES, out last one of 2014. All space and STEM calls welcome. First time callers welcome. Give us your 2015 space predictions.

Waypoint 2 Space Partners with Final Frontier Design

Spacesuit pressurization (Credit: Final Frontier Design)
Spacesuit pressurization (Credit: Final Frontier Design)

HOUSTON, Sept. 30, 2014 (Waypoint/FFD PR) — Today, Waypoint 2 Space (Waypoint) announced a partnership with Final Frontier Design (FFD) that will integrate FFD space suit designs with Waypoint’s innovative EVA training systems in support of Waypoint’s FAA safety approved commercial space training programs.

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Starfighters, Final Frontier Design Announce Stategic Partnership

Final Frontier Design's 3G suit with cover garment with a Starfighter F-104 in the taxi area of the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC. (Credit: Final Frontier Design)
Final Frontier Design’s 3G suit with cover garment with a Starfighters F-104 in the taxi area of the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC. (Credit: Final Frontier Design)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 4, 2014 (SFA/FFD PR) — Starfighters Aerospace (SFA) and Final Frontier Design (FFD) are pleased to announce a strategic partnership to integrate and optimize the FFD 3G Space Suit for SFA’s F-104 supersonic jets.

The 3G Space Suit is an Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) safety garment designed to protect pilots in a high altitude environment. Integration with life support and ejection systems, as well as design optimization for the fighter’s cockpit, will take place in 2014. The 3G suit will enable SFA high altitude research flights and suborbital point-to-point pathfinder missions within the next year.

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Orbital Outfitters Moving to Midland

orbital_outfittersThere’s a report out of Midland, Texas about plans for Los Angeles-based spacesuit manufacturer Orbital Outfitters to move there:

This week Midland Development Corp. approved a nearly $7 million agreement which will permit Orbital Outfitters to manage and operate a $3.2 million altitude chamber facility, which MDC will own. According to news reports, the board will also provide the firm with an incentive of $2.2 million to construct its headquarters in the Lone Star State city, along with $1.5 million to assist in its relocation from California.

The agenda for MDC’s meeting on Jan. 24 lists three measures concerning Orbital Outfitters: an economic agreement, the lease of a two-acre tract at the Midland International Airport by the city of Midland, and a sublease of that tract to the company. No details are provided.

Orbital Outfitters will join XCOR Aerospace, which has an agreement with Midland to move its research and development facility to the West Texas city. Lee Valentine, who is one of XCOR’s lead investors, also is a co-founder of Orbital Outfitters.

ILC Dover Awarded NASA Contract for Next Generation Spacesuit

ILC_Dover_newsuits

FREDERICA, DE (ILC Dover PR) — ILC Dover, the designer and manufacturer of NASA’s space suits and a wide range of engineered film and fabric products, announced today it was awarded an 18 month contract to design, manufacture and test the next generation of NASA’s Spacesuits – the Z-2. The new suit, designed for enhanced spacewalk capability, will operate at higher pressure levels than previous models, which will greatly improve exploration work efficiency.

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