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Space Technology

DIY Space Suit Testing 37

Kristian von Bengtson is one of the founders of Copenhagen Suborbitals, a private organization dedicated to cheap, manned spaceflight. He says, 'This week the space suit branch of Copenhagen Suborbitals from the U.S. is visiting and testing suits in capsules is being performed." The testing process is being chronicled in a series of articles at Wired. You can take a look at some images of getting suited up, and read about the process in detail. von Bengtson writes, "I have to say this suit is incredible, and wearing it today was a remarkable experience. Not only did it fit like a neatly tailored jacket, you instantly become very aware of isolation, the risks involved in this mission, and the complexity of the suit when the 'visor down' command is effectuated. Even though you have a bunch of people next to you – operating life support and with cameras – you feel all alone and all sounds disappear. They’re replaced by the hissing of the breathing-gas and pressure-gas." There's another article about getting into and out of the capsule while in the space suit, which is quite a complicated procedure. "All three of us tried to perform the fast egress and this was a very intense experience. While pressurized inside the capsule (app 1 psi) arms and legs want to expand your body like a balloon and even just reaching out toward the hatch opening was almost impossible. Each of us spend at least 30-50 seconds on this procedure desperately trying to reach toward anything nearby, feet and leg kicking and general nonsense body-wobbling. A simple procedure like this required all the power and muscle we had while John Haslett tried to keep up with dumping CO2 and adding breathing gas."

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DIY Space Suit Testing

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  • There really are easier ways to go about suffocating yourself.
  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Friday August 23, 2013 @01:24PM (#44657055) Journal

    Spacesuits are a lot more complicated than they look, NASA's suits have a lot of sealed bearings and straps and bellows below the surface to allow easy movement and reduce the ballooning effect: []

    • NASA makes things 1000 times more complicated than they need to be. Its why a space toilet seat costs $100k to manufacture and $1 billion to design, but looks like a $10 seat you can get a Home Depot. I had a friend who worked in aerospace that spent a year in R&D for a nut for the Canadarm that he would swear you could just buy at the hardware store.

      Agreed that a spacesuit is slightly more complicated than a toilet seat, but private enterprise is showing they are capable to reaching space for far che

      • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:52PM (#44657997) Homepage Journal

        Your so-called toilet seat in space is hardly what you think. There are a number of problems with putting an ordinary toilet in an orbital spacecraft that is in a microgravity environment, not the least of which is that water isn't found in the toilet.

        Watch this video and tell me that it can be solved with a $10 seat purchased at Home Depot: []

        There are also reasons why you need to spend months trying to find the right nut for a device, even if it may be something you pick up for a nickle at a local hardware store.

        No doubt there is some substantial management overhead on space projects done by NASA. Just look at how much money it cost to build the Falcon 9 as opposed to the SLS (Sometimes called the Senate Launch System... comparable payloads and overall missions, and the SLS still isn't flying in spite of new incarnations that keep popping up and more money spent on them). I agree that the current culture at NASA tends to gild the lily, but it is also important to note sometimes there is increased complexity simply because stuff is happening in space. Furthermore, low production rates for stuff going into space means that you don't have economies of scale for components like you would for toilet seats purchased by people all over the world.

        Besides, would you actually use a $10 toilet seat purchased at Home Depot? Those things last barely longer than it takes to screw them onto a toilet in the first place. Certainly don't turn one of those over to a bunch of teenagers, as they will destroy the thing in no time flat. Even at Home Depot there are much higher quality toilet seats to purchase, where money counts even for a mass consumer item like that.

      • Even when you spend all the time and money to get the right nut for a device you can learn that you did not understand the load case and environment. SpaceX lost the Falcon 1 flight 1 due to the failure of a nut. []

        The cost of space rated hardware is the cost to understand the load case, not the cost of the item.
  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @01:27PM (#44657077)

    Have space suit will travel

  • What they are doing is fairly difficult, and I just want to put what they are doing into perspective. What they are doing is akin to building an mercury program from scratch in a garage. These guys are both brilliant and passionate about this endeavor, so I expect to seem them succeed in the near future. CJ
  • This reminds me of when I was considering changing from just sport diving to becoming a salvage diver. I was talking to one of my friends who does it for a living and he had one of the old MK V deep diving suits in his collection of old diving gear. I'm not normally claustrophobic, but when I tried it on, the moment they tightened the helmet down to the suit it was almost panic inducing. I've had incidents at depth before with my scuba rig, but the very idea of being that isolated and having to rely on air
  • by zlexiss ( 14056 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:39PM (#44657869)

    An excellent historical perspective (with plenty of photos) on the development of pressure suits for both aviation and space use. []

    Yes, this is hard to do.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      An excellent historical perspective (with plenty of photos) on the development of pressure suits for both aviation and space use. []

      Yes, this is hard to do.

      An awesome ebook that really details what the big problems are with spacesuits, or a pressure suit, really.

      It's mobility - and it's not mobility while deflated (when you see those photos of early astronauts playing golf or baseball), but when inflated.

      So much technology has been used in contro

  • This is a really awesome example of dedication to science and engineering by enthusiasts.

    They don't mention it (much), but these guys are risking their lives. It's certainly possible for all the tech safeguards and personal attention to safety to go wrong and for someone to die.

    I bet the professionals will call this "unnecessarily risk", but that's not really accurate. Sure, it's money-limited, but that doesn't mean that the people involved aren't just as strongly concerned with safety as the professional

  • .
      . ...I actually feel bad for Darth Vader.


  • []

    Space suits in general and the SAS in particular are why I no longer give a rat's ass what happens to NASA. Cut their funding, Congress orders them to start launching their rockets upside-down, I couldn't care less. NASA had a working prototype of a replacement for those injurious, exhausting, and dangerous inflatable suits 40 goddamn years ago, and they flushed it down the toilet and haven't looked back since.

    The future of the human race is in outer space,

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