Embry-Riddle University In Daytona Introduces New Spacesuit Testing Laboratory

By on November 21, 2017 in WNDB News

 

Daytona Beach, FL – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach has introduced its new SUIT (Spacesuit Utilization of Innovative Technology) Laboratory.

Students at Embry-Riddle now have the opportunity to experience first-hand what it feels like to wear a spacesuit in suborbital space flight. They are able to wear a pressurized spacesuit in the new laboratory to emulate how astronauts move during missions and test spacesuit designs.

“I feel like I’m in a big cement box. It’s really hard to move. I thought I’d have a lot more range of motion,” said Peyton Schwartz, an Embry-Riddle junior who participated in a spaceflight training program, Project PoSSUM, in October. “I can visualize more things now that I have that experience,” said Schwartz.

In the lab, students test benchmarks in the spacesuits for the industry to analyze. In spacesuits, students test arm movements such as flexion, extension, abduction and adduction and intravehicular and extravehicular maneuvers as well.

“We’re seeing what’s comfortable and not comfortable and what we can and can’t do,” said Schwartz. “As a human factors major, I’m looking at how muscles react to certain movements.”

According to Assistant Professor of Spaceflight Operations and Principal Investigator of the lab, Dr. Ryan Kobrick, the technology uses 3D images to every angle in the suit’s range-of-motion to test its limits and to see how it can be improved. Many companies are heading into private spaceflights, so the research being done at Embry-Riddle will help the industry create safe spacesuits with mobility. The school is also working towards creating a standard checklist for astronauts to follow when they use their spacesuits.

“Three dimension is the next step for understanding how astronauts operate in their work environment,” said Kobrick. “You get a full cloud of data versus a two-dimensional, one-plane view.”

“Spacesuit companies want their products to be as efficient as possible and we’ll help determine if they are,” said Jeni Schuman, an Embry-Riddle sophomore majoring in Aerospace Physiology with a minor in Flight.

Kobrick, Embry-Riddle alumni, and students have been involved in several other spacesuit and space glove testing programs such as a Mars simulation in Utah and an underwater spacesuit test in Greece. Kobrick wants the lab at Embry-Riddle to serve the industry as the top way to test spacesuit designs.

“We want to test everyone’s spacesuits and contribute to technologies that improve spacesuits, and therefore increase human performance and exploration efficiency,” said Kobrick.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2017.

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