PoSSUM Spacecraft Egress and Post-landing survivability testing

02 May Project PoSSUM First to Complete Spacecraft Egress Testing of Commercial Space Suits

BOULDER, Colo. – A team of Project PoSSUM citizen-scientists recently completed a series of spacecraft egress and post-landing tests of an Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) space suit at Survival Systems USA in Groton, CT. The space suit was developed by Final Frontier Design of Brooklyn, NY and these series of tests mark the first post-landing tests of a commercial spacesuit in water, an essential step towards certifying the space suit for flight at high altitude, a feat the team seeks to accomplish next year.

PoSSUM’s citizen-scientists have been trained from over 40 different countries and this year’s evaluation team has been specially trained in advance of these tests through a specialized curriculum that includes SCUBA and space suit training in addition to an intensive educational and training program developed by former NASA test designers together with Survival Systems.

This year, the PoSSUM team evaluated the various post-landing survival equipment including a custom Life Preserver Unit (LPU) designed to keep an astronaut stable in water while evaluating human performance in various spacecraft and ejection seat egress procedures, including scenarios with reduced lighting and elevated sea conditions. PoSSUM’s full-scale fiberglass mockup of the Orion spacecraft was used to support operational research of post-landing egress procedures of test subjects using the space suits. The PoSSUM team also assessed performance in various ejection and parachute entry training procedures involving freefall into water from a height approximating an actual impact velocity. For these tests, a special drop system was developed to simulate parachute drops and raft ingress operations while in a space suit.

Former NASA astronaut instructor and system engineer Ken Trujillo led the PoSSUM team. “Outside of government space agencies there is no spaceflight focused emergency operations training available to researchers, academia, or civil spaceflight operators.” said Ken Trujillo, “The courses, tests and hardware we’re developing will, hopefully, build the industry database and lead to improved systems, operations and safety to all involved in the civil space industry.” Trujillo now serves as PoSSUM’s Astronautics Training Director and aims to provide a similar education and training experience as NASA astronauts receive.

This year’s test team included Dr. Aaron Persad of Somerville, Mass.; Aimee Valiere of Huntsville, Ala.; Dara Dotz of San Francisco, Calif.; Valerie Richard of Alexandria, Va.; Heidi Hammerstein of Pembroke, Ga.; Richard Blakeman of Lakewood, Colo.; Megan Kane of Richmond, Calif.; Brien Posey of Rock Hill, S.C.; Tatsunari Tomiyama of Melbourne, Fla.; and Carmen Felix of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Additionally, PoSSUM’s Dr. Erik Seedhouse led a study comparing various strength measurements of the PoSSUM scientist-astronaut candidates in relation to NASA’s astronaut candidates to assess how these might relate to various post-landing scenarios.

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 available to students and professionals. New scientist-astronaut candidates are trained in classes scheduled two times per year at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. Interested individuals should apply online at www.projectpossum.org.


Project PoSSUM, a 501(c)(3) non-profit suborbital research and education organization, is devoted to the study of the upper atmosphere and the role it plays in the understanding of the global climate. The PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidate Program and Advanced PoSSUM Academy are held at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. PoSSUM Instrumentation is funded by NASA as part of the ‘PMC-Turbo’ experiment. The PoSSUM Noctilucent Cloud Tomography Experiment is supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program as the ‘Noctilucent Cloud Imagery and Tomography Experiment,’ granted in March 2012 and PoSSUM students train to fly this suborbital mission while preparing for aeronomy, bioastronautics and educational outreach missions. For more information, visit us at www.projectpossum.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/projectpossum


Survival Systems USA based in Groton, CT is a world leader in underwater egress and water survival training.  With more than three decades of research and innovation, Survival Systems is uniquely positioned to safely and consistently provide aircraft specific training solutions combined with full environmental training scenarios for all aviation and space industry professionals.  To learn more about Survival Systems USA, visit http://www.survivalsystemsinc.com.


Final Frontier Design is a Brooklyn-based private design firm crafting aerospace safety garments and space-inspired garments for safety and technical performance.  For more information, visit http://www.finalfrontierdesign.com/.

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