How NASA tests spacesuits

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Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This isn’t your traditional bathing suit. It’s actually NASA’s Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU, the first new flight spacesuit developed by the agency in over 40 years. And it’s what the next astronauts will wear when we finally go back to the moon in 2024. But before its boots touch the lunar surface, the suit must be tested, rigorously.

Amy Ross: We know that if we don’t do our job well, we can kill somebody.

Narrator: Testing isn’t just about making sure it functions. It’s about making sure the astronauts who use it come back home safe.

Ross: We are a life-support system. And so that is something that we all know and keep in the back of our minds every day as we do our job, because rule No. 1 is crew members come home.

Narrator: This is Amy. And Amy has to make sure the suit can stand up to a lot. The Artemis program plans to take crews to the moon’s south pole for months at a time, in shadowy regions that could drop to minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit or even lower. And astronauts will have to double as geologists, especially given NASA’s discovery of the presence of ice on the moon, something that could help fuel rockets, turning the moon into a gas station en route to Mars. So the xEMU testing process has been long and grueling, with some tests run twice the recommended amount just to be safe.

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It’s all broken up into three phases. Development, design verification, and qualification. The first phase is all about finalizing a design. Amy and her team try out a bunch of different lower-quality components before deciding which design to actually build.

Ross: You now, it’s like a car. Is your car’s steering good? Well, until you put it in a car, it’s hard to tell. We can put different shoulders in and see, does this shoulder work better than this shoulder?

Narrator: Once that’s all figured out, the suit moves to the design-verification stage.

Ross: The idea is that we’re going to stay on the moon for months at a time. And that means that you need to be very flexible and capable, and you need to be durable.

Narrator: Now, we’ve been to the moon before, but not for this long, not this location, and not with the knowledge we have now.

Ross: We’re being asked to go to permanently shadowed regions because there are gases in those places that stay very, very cold. And I’m talking, like, minus-370-degrees-Fahrenheit cold.

Narrator: They won’t be working in temperatures that cold, but the suit does have to withstand temperatures as high as 250 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit, a wider range than ever before. To make sure it holds up, NASA tests the suit in what’s basically a big, vacuum-sealed oven/freezer, both manned and unmanned.

Ross: Chamber B here at Johnson Space Center is a human-rated thermal vacuum chamber we’ll use. We’ll go in there …read more

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Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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