Project PoSSUM Tests Prototype Spacesuit and Seat in Zero-G

08 Nov Project PoSSUM Tests Prototype Spacesuit and Seat in Zero-G

BOULDER, Colo. – Project PoSSUM announced today that it had successfully completed the second phase of a zero-g research program designed to evaluate a prototype commercial IVA spacesuit designed by Final Frontier Design (FFD) of Brooklyn, NY. The tests, conducted at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Ont., were designed to evaluate a prototype seat along with the suit-seat interface and the operational envelope through a series of three zero-g flights. The tests also matured an in-flight suit pressurization system, communications system, and a biometric monitoring system.

Twelve Project PoSSUM graduates participated in the research campaign that occurred from 2-4 November, 2016. The spacesuit is continuing testing extending upon preliminary ‘phase-one’ tests that were successfully completed in October 2015. This time, a special spacecraft seat was designed and constructed by the PoSSUM Technologies Program and integrated to the aircraft. The recent tests evaluated this prototype seat and the suit-seat interface through a series of three zero-g flights while further maturing an in-flight suit pressurization system, communications system, and a biometric monitoring system. Suited test subjects included Dr. Shawna Pandya of Edmonton, AB., Heidi Hammerstein of Penbroke, GA., and Anima Patil-Sabale of San Ramon, CA.

“Our team was able to supply in-flight experimental data and qualitative feedback to both spacesuit and seat designers.”, said test subject Heidi Hammerstein, “Working with Project PoSSUM team members and FFD’s spacesuit in microgravity trials is the realization of a career-long dream.”

Last January, the FFD proposal “Testing of a Novel IVA Space Suit” was selected by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program and these tests served as an unpressurized ‘dry-run’ of the NASA-supported tests. The Falcon 20 aircraft was chosen for these tests because of its exceptional quality of microgravity that best approximates the space environment, as well as a cabin interior that best replicates several space vehicles being produced.

“The purpose of these tests is to increase our technology readiness level (TRL) through human testing in a high fidelity, relevant environment. The results will be used to validate pressurized suit performance under live, unpredictable conditions and further our milestone goal of obtaining flight safety approval from the FAA,” says Ted Southern, President of FFD.

PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization that conducts upper-atmospheric and space technology research and communicates the science through various educational outreach programs. The next PoSSUM citizen-science programs will be held at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. from April 7-12, 2017. Interested individuals should apply online at www.projectpossum.org.

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