Bioastronautics is the study associated with the support of life in space, including the design of payloads, space habitats, and life support systems. Project PoSSUM works with Final Frontier Design to test and evaluate commercial spacesuits and their operability within analog environments. Project PoSSUM conducts citizen-science bioastronautics research including evaluations of Final Frontier Design spacesuits and associated technologies developed within the program. Project PoSSUM members work exclusively with Integrated Spaceflight Services to evaluate Final Frontier IVA Spacesuits through a multi-year research and evaluation program to evaluate spacesuit functionality, operational envelope, prototype suit/seat interface, seat ingress and egress operations, interface with biometric monitoring and communications systems, and CO2 washout tests.
Final Frontier Design was founded in 2010 in Brooklyn, NY with the intent to “craft affordable yet highly capable spacesuits for a burgeoning commercial spaceflight industry.” Final Frontier has developed a commercial Intra-Vehicular Activity suit (IVA) which can be pressurized in the event of an emergency, and is now in the process of certification according to the NASA flight certification standards. In 2015, Final Frontier Design won a Space Act agreement with NASA and is now developing broader spacesuit technologies. Project PoSSUM continues to work with Final Frontier Design by engaging citizen-scientists with the technology maturation process of Final Frontier Design spacesuits.
PoSSUM’s Spacesuit Evaluation Program has been co-developed by Project PoSSUM, Integrated Spaceflight Services, Final Frontier Design, the National Research Council, the Southern Aeromedical Institute, and Survival Systems USA. We publish citizen-science and publicly-funded research on microgravity, high-altitude, high-G, and post-landing operations of intra-vehicular spacesuits. Following microgravity evaluations of Final Frontier spacesuits and assocaited PoSSUM technologies, suborbital flights will be conducted on Blue Origin and/or Virgin Galactic suborbital vehicles.
2015: Phase One microgravity test objectives (visor-up): 1) Range of motion tests, 2) Translation tests, 3) Seat Ingress/Egress tests, 4) Venting and/or Pressurization system evaluation, 5) Fine motor skills evaluation.
2016: Phase Two microgravity test objectives (visor-up): 1) Customized launch seat integration, 2) Analog cockpit controls and mission simulation, 3) The PoSSUMCam control interface, 4) Integrated biometric system test, 5) Pressurization system validation.
2017: Phase Three microgravity test objectives (visor-down): 1) Repeat of Phase Two objectives with test subject visor-down and pressurized at 2.0psi, 2) Repeat of Phase Two objectives with test subject visor-down and pressurized at 3.5psi.
2018: Phase Four microgravity test objectives (visor-down): 1) Test and Validation of Astroskin biometric monitoring system integration, 2) Comparative testing of human performance in conducting dynamics and fluidics primary science experiments in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency.
High-G tests conducted in 2015 evaluated:
Continuing High-Altitude Chamber testing evaluates:
PoSSUM is involved in a variety of research with Embry-Riddle, including aerospace physiology and human performance research involving PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates. These tests are designed to study the diversity of physiological and psychological responses to spaceflight analog conditions.
Flight research involving Final Frontier Design spacesuits and associated PoSSUM technologies have been conducted on research aircraft. These tests help assess the functionality of the suit in an operational environment similar to that of a spacecraft. PoSSUM’s Mooney M20K aircraft is used here to demonstrate flight procedures using a suited pilot.
Project PoSSUM and Survival Systems USA have jointly developed a program that provides analog environments to the landing and post-landing phase of human space missions, coupled with an educational program designed exclusively for PoSSUM graduates. Project PoSSUM graduates also have the unique opportunity to participate in a wide variety of lunar and Mars analog immersive science expeditions in partnership with Science in the Wild. Here, graduates investigate the actual science that would be performed on the Moon or on Mars, the tools that might be needed to conduct the science, and how those tools would be used by astronauts within an EVA spacesuit.
2018: Phase One Post-Landing test objectives: 1) side hatch nominal egress performance, 2) top hatch nominal egress performance, 3) space suit flotation and stability in water, 4) Egress bottle CO2 washout under exertion, 6) controlled (parachute) drop into water, 6) raft ingress performance.
2019: Phase Two Post-Landing test objectives: 1) assessment of stability using improved buoyancy systems, 2) Parachute Drop simulating actual impact velocities, 3) egress performance using umbilical/egress bottle hybrid methods, 4) injured crew member egress procedures.