24 Nov PoSSUM Astronaut Candidates Complete First Pressurized Microgravity Test of Commercial Spacesuit
Project PoSSUM PR (Ottawa, Ontario). A team of 12 Project PoSSUM graduates participated in the first pressurized test of a commercial spacesuit in microgravity, led by PoSSUM in partnership with the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada located in Ottawa, Ontario. The tests were conducted from October 2–5, 2017.
The tests were part of the PoSSUM Bioastronautics Program, where PoSSUM graduates evaluate a prototype commercial spacesuit designed by Final Frontier Design (FFD) of Brooklyn, NY. These tests follow two successful unpressurized spacesuit campaigns that were successfully completed in October 2015 and November 2016.
These initial unpressurized spacesuit tests evaluated the wearer’s range of motion, fine motor skills and seat egress and ingress. The PoSSUM team also evaluated a special spacecraft seat that was designed and constructed by the PoSSUM team and integrated to an in-flight suit pressurization system, communications system, a biometric monitoring system and a simulated cockpit where test subjects ‘fly’ the simulated PoSSUM suborbital profile that they learned at their PoSSUM training at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus.
The Dassault Falcon 20 aircraft operated by the NRC 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 NRC has truly become part of our PoSSUM team. The three microgravity flights went off without incident, and we gathered the first visor-down microgravity data for Final Frontier Design’, said Hammerstein, “We also made large strides in testing efficiency during this campaign. The technical and professional improvements our team has made in microgravity testing over the years are clear, and really showed their colors in these tests.”
The next step for the PoSSUM team will be to undergo egress and sea survival testing next April, a critical step before they may be approved for suborbital and high-altitude applications. If all goes well, the PoSSUM team hopes to conduct the first high-altitude flight later in 2018 using the suits to push past the Armstrong limit, an altitude (above 60,000 ft.) beyond which humans absolutely cannot survive in an unpressurized environment.
“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.