This paper evaluates key functional data parameters that must be considered for suborbital spaceflight participants wearing pressurized suits for intravehicular activity (IVA). Data parameters of an analog spacesuit worn in an analog flight environment were obtained from 40 civilian participants using the Suborbital Space Flight Simulator (SSFS) at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) while donning Final Frontier Design’s (FFD) fully pressurized third-generation spacesuit as part of their training for Project PoSSUM (the Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere Project). The physiological data collected included: blood pressure, electrocardiograms, heart rate, grip strength, and skin temperature. These parameters were measured using a blood pressure monitor, a Zephyr Bioharness, and a BioRadio respectively. Other data collected include participants’ motion sickness, discomfort and mobility, and stress and workload. These parameters were self-assessed using the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire (SSQ), the Modified Cooper Harper Rating Scale, and the NASA-Task Load Index (TLX) respectively. Preliminary results show that 29% of the participants experienced basic spacesuit donning discomfort, while 17% of the participants showed some doffing discomfort. Feet, shoulders, neck, arms, and ankles were the most sensitive parts in this process and throughout their use of the suit. Our results also indicate that the spacesuit limited participants by approximately 24% of their normal cross-body reach range of motion. Nevertheless, the operational capability of this suit is currently being evaluated as a viable option for supporting future suborbital, orbital, and exploration missions. This research will enhance the functionality of the suit, standardize suit testing procedures, aid in identifying key parameters for reducing physiological deconditioning in the use of emerging spacesuit technologies, and provide comparative analysis reference for future studies.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ryinspace/39/