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Development of Feedwater Supply Assembly for Spacesuit Cooling

Development of Feedwater Supply Assembly for Spacesuit Cooling

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Published by Andrew Wiens
An astronaut’s spacesuit provides protection from the extreme temperatures and lack of oxygen in outer space during an Extravehicular Activity (EVA). Engineers at the NASA Johnson Space Center are currently working to design a life support system for the next generation spacesuit called the Advanced Portable Life Support System (APLSS). The APLSS is worn as a backpack and consists of three main subsystems: the oxygen system, the ventilation system, and the thermal system. Water for use in the thermal loop is stored in a water bladder system called the Feedwater Supply Assembly (FSA). Washington University’s Reduced Gravity Team had the opportunity to design, build, and fly a FSA as part of NASA’s Systems Engineering Educational Discovery Program. Essential to the FSA is a low level alert that sends a signal to the CM as a warning when there is enough water left for 30 minutes of cooling. In the microgravity trials, we tested the FSA’s ability to meet the required outflow rate, send a low level alert to the CM when the bladder reaches a specified low volume, and recharge, allowing the bladder to function for multiple EVAs. Our initial design had seven bellow shaped bladders manifolded together and mounted to an aluminum frame. An aluminum plate across the top of the seven bladders helped maintain a constant height in all seven bladders by sliding in the aluminum corner channels. Infrared (IR) sensors mounted in the corners of the aluminum frame would take height measurements which would be averaged, and, along with knowledge of the bladder diameters, would allow the volume of water in the bladders to be calculated. For the prototype, a smaller version of the design with only three bladders and one IR sensor was used. In addition, guide wires were placed around the bladder to constrain them and minimize bowing. In 1-g and 2-g, the bladders bowed, but in microgravity (0-g) they filled and depleted without bowing. While the IR sensor’s distance measurements were not precise, the measurements were repeatable, having the same voltage for a given distance across trials. More than half of the trials had a flow rate of greater than 3 lb/hr, demonstrating that our system met the required outflow and inflow rates. Comparing the flight video to the data collected by the laptop also showed that the low level alert operated as intended. Our FSA design did not meet all of the given requirements and therefore was not an ideal design for the APLSS, but its testing did demonstrate that using bellows shaped bladders and IR sensors are viable design choices for the FSA. The lessons learned from this project will be used as NASA engineers move forward to finalize the APLSS FSA design.
An astronaut’s spacesuit provides protection from the extreme temperatures and lack of oxygen in outer space during an Extravehicular Activity (EVA). Engineers at the NASA Johnson Space Center are currently working to design a life support system for the next generation spacesuit called the Advanced Portable Life Support System (APLSS). The APLSS is worn as a backpack and consists of three main subsystems: the oxygen system, the ventilation system, and the thermal system. Water for use in the thermal loop is stored in a water bladder system called the Feedwater Supply Assembly (FSA). Washington University’s Reduced Gravity Team had the opportunity to design, build, and fly a FSA as part of NASA’s Systems Engineering Educational Discovery Program. Essential to the FSA is a low level alert that sends a signal to the CM as a warning when there is enough water left for 30 minutes of cooling. In the microgravity trials, we tested the FSA’s ability to meet the required outflow rate, send a low level alert to the CM when the bladder reaches a specified low volume, and recharge, allowing the bladder to function for multiple EVAs. Our initial design had seven bellow shaped bladders manifolded together and mounted to an aluminum frame. An aluminum plate across the top of the seven bladders helped maintain a constant height in all seven bladders by sliding in the aluminum corner channels. Infrared (IR) sensors mounted in the corners of the aluminum frame would take height measurements which would be averaged, and, along with knowledge of the bladder diameters, would allow the volume of water in the bladders to be calculated. For the prototype, a smaller version of the design with only three bladders and one IR sensor was used. In addition, guide wires were placed around the bladder to constrain them and minimize bowing. In 1-g and 2-g, the bladders bowed, but in microgravity (0-g) they filled and depleted without bowing. While the IR sensor’s distance measurements were not precise, the measurements were repeatable, having the same voltage for a given distance across trials. More than half of the trials had a flow rate of greater than 3 lb/hr, demonstrating that our system met the required outflow and inflow rates. Comparing the flight video to the data collected by the laptop also showed that the low level alert operated as intended. Our FSA design did not meet all of the given requirements and therefore was not an ideal design for the APLSS, but its testing did demonstrate that using bellows shaped bladders and IR sensors are viable design choices for the FSA. The lessons learned from this project will be used as NASA engineers move forward to finalize the APLSS FSA design.

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Published by: Andrew Wiens on Jan 12, 2013
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12/14/2014

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Washington University in Saint Louis
Department of Mechanical Engineering andMaterials ScienceCampus Box 1185One Brookings DriveSaint Louis, MO 63130
Development of Feedwater SupplyAssembly for Spacesuit Cooling
 
Final Report
Team Lead / Flyer
Kaitlin BurlingameUndergraduate Senior Mechanical Engineering/Biomedical Engineering(407) 310-2116burlingamek@gmail.com
Flyer
 Alex FrancisciUndergraduate SophomoreElectrical Engineering/Computer Science(202) 669-6134alex.francisci@gmail.com
Flyer
Julia Greenberger Undergraduate Senior Systems Science &Engineering(847) 877-4088 jrg6@wustl.edu
 Flyer
Jessica LoyetUndergraduate Senior Mechanical Engineering(618) 792-0567 jmloyet@gmail.com
Flyer
 Andrew WiensUndergraduate Junior Electrical Engineering/Computer Engineering(314) 610-9194adwiens@gmail.com
Ground Crew
Tyler BarkinUndergraduate Senior Mechanical Engineering(516) 232-6378tylerbarkin@wustl.edu
Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Guy Genin Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering &Materials Science(314) 935-5660genin@wustl.edu
 NASA Mentor
Ian Anchondo(281) 244-5375ian.a.anchondo@nasa.gov
 
 
2
1. Table of Contents
 
 
3
2. Introduction
Washington University in St. Louis’s
(WUSTL) Reduced Gravity Team was selected to conduct research through
NASA’s Systems Engineering Educational Discover 
y (SEED) program. As part of the SEED program, eachselected team, with the assistance of a NASA mentor and a faculty mentor, develops an experiment to testonboard a reduced gravity aircraft. The team writes all necessary documentation, builds the experiment,builds the test bed, flies the experiment on the reduced gravity aircraft, and, after, conducts data analysis toanswer their research questions.The WUSTL team, consisting of six students from a variety of engineering disciplines, was assigned the project:
Development of Feedwater Supply Assembly for Spacesuit Cooling.
Our team was tasked with
 
designing aFeedwater Supply Assembly (FSA) for the next spacesuit
’s
 Advanced Portable Life Support System (APLSS). After several months of planning and ground testing, our team tested our design in April aboard the Zero-
G Corporation’s
modified Boeing 727 aircraft which creates a microgravity environment.The primary objective of our project was to design, prototype, and test a novel Feedwater Supply Assembly that meta set of criteria provided by our NASA mentor. The FSA prototype was tested in two separate microgravity flights.Through the project, we aimed to create a functional FSA prototype and learn more about the design process andfeasible design characteristics for a FSA. As part of the microgravity test flights we also sought to conduct science and engineering outreach to K-12 students.This year, we gave outreach presentations to local students and conducted outreach experiments demonstrating thecharacteristics of gravity. In addition, photos and videos are available on our website.

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