Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sixth and Final Test Day

Today was an amazing last day. I will just upload some photos and briefly comment what they are. I will also include below Alex Diaz's excellent EVA Report.

The NDX-1 test season at MDRS was a complete success and I want to tank very much to everybody who made it possible.
To the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium, especially to Dr. Paul Hardersen and Suezette Bieri for their support.

To Gary L. Harris, great friend and talented designer, who developed all soft elements of the NDX-1. Gary, who deserves a special chapter in the development of advanced space suits and is without a question the most skillful and innovative space suit designer today, and we are honored to have him in our team.

To everybody at the University of North Dakota, one of the finest universities in the US and an incredible place to work, also to my colleagues at the Department of Space Studies who from the beginning supported the idea of a Space Suit Laboratory.
To the Ames Research Center for their kind invitation as part of the NASA Spaceward Bound Mission V, to the MDRS 61 crew; Chip Shepherd (NASA JSC), commander, Alex Diaz (Boeing) our amazing EVA officer, Marcus Medley, (resourceful engineer and the in the last day, NDX-1 test subject!). To Irene Schneider, Pieter Jan Van Asbroeck and Elizabeth Wolfe, an amazing team of super-talented people. To the NDX-1 test subject, Fabio Sau (despite the fact that he wants to be called “the model”) who did a superb job enduring low and high temperatures inside the NDX-1 and performed his job incredible well.

To Paul Graham, engineering support at MDRS who was an invaluable ally when things went wrong and we needed things done by yesterday.

I also want to thank to Don Foutz owner of the Whispering Sands for his support, help and patience. Also, to Tiffany and all the great ladies of the housekeeping team at the Whispering.

Special thanks to Tony Muscatello, of the Mars Society who provided valuable help and logistics for this successful mission.

Last but not least to my wife Ana Maria, who took all the pictures in this blog (and thousands more, and at the same time did the video footage of the complete mission) enduring wind, sand, heat, cold (and even some media camera guys who did her job more difficult) and despite all that took incredible pictures and videos of the tests.

I also want to thank all of you who read this blog every day and provided comments and encouragement during this week.

Many thanks to all.

Pablo de Leon


Log Book for April 7, 2007
EVA Report by Alex Diaz

Context: UND NDX-1 Suit Test and EVA Sample Collector Tool Test (State University of New York, Buffalo)
Duration: 06:55-8:06
Weather: Clear (dawn)
Maximum distance from Hab: 800m

Participants: EVA Support Task Team-5 (Alex Diaz, Marcus Medley, Irene Schneider Puente), NDX-1 Crew (Pablo De Leon, Ana De Leon, and Fabio Sau), and State University of New York, Buffalo student (Amanda Schmidt and Mrynal D'Arcangelo).

Equipment: NDX-1 Spacesuit and supporting equipment (i.e. ATV, compressor, and generator), video camera, digital camera, GPS, radios, rock hammer, notepad/pen, and EVA Sample Collector Tool.

Route: NDX-1 suit subject (Fabio Sau) rode on ATV trailer north on Lowell Highway to perform several mobility tests.

Objectives - Work Done: This was the last test of the UND NDX-1 Suit at MDRS. The objective was to assess the mobility of the NDX-1 suit. Major tasks included NDX-1 donning, Thermal Garment donning, walking w/ backpack, sample collection with rock hammer, cart moving, and sample flag planting. All operations were conducted successfully. The farthest location reached was UTM 12S 0518724E 4251224N; distance of 800m from Hab.

Additionally, an EVA Sample Collector Tool was tested by the pressurized NDX-1 Test. The goal of this tool is to allow Martian astronauts to dig and collect soil and rock samples without having to bend. Prior to today's test, the test subject (Fabio Sau) tested the EVA tool without gloves and got familiar with the mechanism. During today's test, Fabio performed the following tasks: 1) released the trigger mechanism allowing for the tool arm to fold out, 2) dug into the soil for the sample, 3) reengaged the trigger to retract the arm, 4) collected the soil sample into the container, 5) unscrewed the container, and 6) capped the sample. Conceptually, the EVA tool is a very valiant attempt for facilitating collection samples on a planetary surface. However, there are a few items that are being recommended to the graduate designers for further development of the tool. These recommendations are outlined in the Lessons Learned section.

After all NDX-1 suit operations were completed, MDRS Crew 61 Engineer, Marcus Medley, was able to test the pressurized suit. Note, the NDX-1 suit was designed for a person with an approximate height of 5'9" and weight of 160lbs. Marcus Medley fit those parameters. Marcus donned on the suit and walked in the area surrounding the front of the Hab. Marcus commented that the suit itself does not, for the most part, touch the surface of the body, which allows for very good mobility; walking, bending arms and legs, and kneeling was effortless. Furthermore, the suit gloves allowed him good dexterity and tactility.

Lessons Learned:
Starting early again proved fruitful. This was done to prevent overheating of the test subject in a pressurized suit.
NDX-1 suit mobility is very good. Test subject is able to get on one knee comfortably to collect samples, able to use rock hammer, able to walk up a low sloping hill, and able to maneuver around rocks of various sizes.
EVA Sample Collection Tool recommendations (Pablo De Leon, Fabio Sau, Alex Diaz, Mrynal D'Arcangelo and Amanda Schmidt):
Trigger mechanism is extremely difficult to pull in order to release the bending arm. Recommendation: Decrease distance from the trigger to the handle so that astronaut can have a better grip.
The trigger itself is too short; there is only room for two fingers. Recommendation: Increase the length of the trigger mechanism so that four fingers can grip the handle.
Clearance distance on the handle is not enough for the glove of the space suit to fit around without causing damage to the suit itself. Recommendation: Increase the degree angle for the arm rest by approximately 20 degrees in order to prevent the glove and suit from getting hooked. Use silicone or some type of padding for the armrest to prevent damage to the suit.
Scoop degree angle is restrictive. Recommendation: Increase the degree of pitch of the scoop in order to have a better dig angle.
Refer to NASA-STD-3000 for EVA-related requirements.


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