Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pressure Suit; Significant Progress to Wrap Up the Year

Time to shift gears to Alaska preparations. Unable to bring myself to actually type another single character (on the next book project) over the weekend I decided instead to get the suit--now Mark II--up to pressurizable condition before wrapping it for storage until next year (although it might just be possible to carry out one pressure test before Alaska). Photos below.

Having completely dismantled the neck ring attachment some weeks ago, this weekend I cleaned all surfaces and re-glued the interface with a wider glue brush (big improvement), redundant coverage of the interface rubber, and clamping the glued surfaces together when needed to improve the bond. I think this will work to prevent even the smallest leak. Testing will reveal whether it's worked or not.

Months of careful decision-making led the the final moment; starting to cut through-holes for installing ducting through the pressure garment.

Installing through-hole hardware. In this proof-of-concept suit, I'm using nylon hardware, but this will be changed out for metal, which shouldn't crack at -60F, which nylon might do.

Looking over the suit with through-hole hardware attached; hoses for pressurizing the suit, admitting breathing gas, and dumping breathing gas are all present; electrical / communications and liquid coolant hose in/out ports remain to be added, though the suit can be pressure-tested without these.

Closeup of some of the hoses etc. There is a lot of clutter, obviously, and Jack Shimko, who came to look at the suit, said 'This looks crazy. You have to take care of this before you reveal it publically, or people are going to dismiss you as a madman.' I agree, and in fact months ago I established--with the production house building the coverall that will protect the pressure garment you see here--that the coverall will considerably clarify this clutter (important from a flight safety perspective) and will 'look' to some degree what people expect from a 'space suit'. Building that coverall all hinges on successful pressure tests, so it will be a while yet before that happens.

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