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EVA Innovation Design Technical Report

John Ketzer
Ocean Lakes High School

A new tool that could aid with EVA missions aboard the Space Station would be a rover that
would possess the capabilities of a suited astronaut and could minimize hazards when conducting
an EVA. It would consist of similar technology found on the Station, yet would be modeled after
deep-sea expedition rovers. It would also come with its own module, which would be the main
center of controlling the rover and performing maintenance. Astronauts would manually control
the rover from a control hub in the module, and training for using this piece of equipment would
occur in the pool used to train astronauts for EVA excursions, using a rover with a similar
makeup of the original.


Astronauts need to make regular EVAs to perform maintenance on the space shuttle, yet these
are long, tedious missions that require ample amounts of time to prepare for and pose numerous
dangers. A remote-controlled rover could aid with general repairs that would be made, would be
faster and easier to deploy, and could provide as a sort of safety net for any astronauts that go on
an EVA. The rover would consist of technologies found in the space station, including robot
arms, cameras, radio communication, etc. The rover would be housed in its own module, sort of
like a hangar bay, that would be depressurized and repressurized so that astronauts can actively
enter the hangar and do diagnostics tests on the rover, as well as check its holds for equipment
scavenged outside the station. This could prove to be an invaluable tool to the station that would
minimize overall risks.
First, the drone would be launched from earth contained in its own module, which would
then be attached to the station by astronauts. The module would contain its own solar array to
contribute to station power, and would be divided into three parts: drone airlock, manual control
area, and maintenance bay. The module would be 40 feet long with a diameter of 15 feet, and
divided into the three sub-modules. The first sub- module would be the control station for the
rovers, which would contain the communications systems that would broadcast information and
instructions to the rover via low gain antennae located outside of the module on four points. The
rover operator would control the movements through a joystick system, with a specialized
keyboard system for more precise 3-dimensional movements. Training for operating the rover
would occur on Earth, in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (Canright, 2009). There, another version of
the rover, better suited for water operations, would be placed in the Lab, while astronauts would
be in an above water simulator to train with the actual controls. The second sub-module would be


the monitoring area, where the rover would be docked at the end of each mission. A rail system
would allow the rover to dock to the side of the wall in the module, leading to a chord that would
plug into the rover to recharge it. The walls would be padded to prevent large impacts from the
rover if uncontrolled motion forces it to crash into the walls. The module would have containers
that contain necessary tools for performing repairs. It would lead in from an entry point in the
first sub-module, and astronauts would enter as soon as the rover was fully docked and would
exit before the rover is moved into the airlock. The third sub-module would be a standard
airlock, which would be controlled remotely from the command sub-module. It would lack the
equipment locker used for astronauts, containing only the essentials such as gas tanks to
replenish lost gasses, and each locking hatch would be controlled manually from the control
center, where an astronaut monitors the progression with aid from two sets cameras located in
the docking bay and airlock to make sure everything progresses as planned (Anonymous, 2016).
The rover itself would comprise of multiple systems to ensure smooth operations of the
rover and prove it to be a useful asset to the station. The rover would have a cubic shape, with
dimensions of 8x8x8 feet, cased in shielding to protect it from overall radiation (Thorheim,
2015). The rover would be powered by nickel-hydrogen batteries, utilized for its maintenance
free makeup and high-reliability (Smithrick and O'Donnel, 1995), and a system of axially
grooved heat pipes to dissipate heat buildup. The block of batteries would be located in the back
half of the rover, in a 3.5x7x7 arrangement. The main propulsion system would be RCS thruster
blocks, located on each side of the craft at the center of mass, with fuel reserves located at the
front half of the rover. The fuel tank would be 3.5x7x7 feet, and contain 171.5 cubic feet of fuel,
with a series of small pipelines would feed each of the thruster blocks, with a small heating
system to keep the fuel at a safe temperature (Petty, 2002). Cameras located along the sides of


the robot will also link back to a series of monitors in the control sub-module, to provide
constant monitoring of the rover from the space station. Lights will also be placed to provide
illumination for dark environments. A low-gain antennae will be placed on the back of the rover
to provide constant communication to the station. Finally, the rover will come attached with two
arms, used for grabbing debris and can be used to grab astronauts that have gone adrift. These
arms would be 10 feet long, and be of similar design of the Canadian robotic manipulation
system used on the shuttle. There would be no sense of touch, would be able to lift great weights
if needed, and would contain cameras in its joints to aid in control and manipulation of the arms
(Kauderer, 2013).
Overall, this rover could prove to become a very important asset to the crew aboard the Space
Station, both in assisting the astronauts with EVA missions and providing more safety to overall
missions. With technology like this, eventual integration of rovers into the next generation of
spaceships that could aid in general operations across multiple missions. This could be the first
step into a future with rovers working alongside astronauts.



Anonymous How Do Airlocks Work in Space Some Interesting Facts (2016)
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Thorheim, Olav Electronics In Space Data Respons (2015) Retrieved from