Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Leak Management!

I've spent a lot of late nights--when it's quiet outside--with windows closed, as quiet as I can get it, to listen for leaks, and have thus identified a lot, and sealed them. But I'm still leaking .005psi per second (a figure derived by voodoo and alchemy!). Yesterday finally got around to doing Ye Olde Soapy Water Test for inaudible, small gas leaks through suit fittings and hey hey, this identified a number of leaks in places I thought were absolutely gas-tight (actually, no such thing exists, and current space suits leak at a known rate of about 6 liters per hour). Now these are identified, I'm sealing them up! Photo shows a standard through-fitting (all PVC, will be metal sooner rather than later) with bubbles forming at a gas leak. Good news is that even in the event of the highest leak rate, bailing out (even from 50k feet) would send me down (within 15 seconds) at at least 176 feet per second, and the increasing pressure that I would encounter on the way down would more than compensate for the current leak rate in keeping a healthy pressure in the suit. Bailout is emergency scenario only--I don't mean to spend years on this, only to ride up for an hour and then jump! I want to stay up as long as I can!

Lower photo shows a crude (but accurate enough for now) estimation of suit pressure -vs- ambient pressure and altitude, feet per second descent rate for a bailout scenario from 50k feet, featuring the highest leak rate I am currently managing. Still survivable, and I am still pulling down that leak rate with late night 'silence' sessions!

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