New NASA suits are tested at the same test site as the Apollo Program

NASA has just successfully completed the first field tests of its Haughton Mars Project (HMP), which develops and evaluates spacesuit technologies for future manned missions to the Moon and Mars. The new space suit was tested in the same places that, in the 1960s, Apollo astronauts prepared for historic voyages to our natural satellite in the Upper Oregon Desert in the USA.

The HMP project had the participation of researchers from SETI Institute, Mars Institute and Collins Aerospace. The first tests were conducted in the same places used to train Apollo astronauts, but new ones were selected based on the knowledge gained over the years since the first trips to the Moon. , about the Moon and Mars,” added SETI planetary scientist Pascal Lee.

Left, astronaut Walter Cunningham in training for the Apollo program in 1964. Right, spacesuit engineer Ashley Himmelmann, August of this year (Image: Reproduction/NASA Haughton Mars Project/Pascal Lee)

New sites include Crater Lake National Park, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and Skylight Cave, an ancient lava tube. To access them, the project team had the support of the US Forest Service. NASA’s Artemis Program intends to take the first woman to the moon and return with the next man by the end of this decade, but before that, it needs to ensure the safety and productivity of future astronauts in Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA, in its acronym in English) or spacewalks.

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The most important point of these tests was the innovative and integrated Computer and Information Technologies Subsystem (IT IS), developed by Collins Aerospace. The technology allows astronauts to autonomously track information such as their own health status and that of their peers through a display on their helmets. In addition, the system also reports other data such as the amount of energy, oxygen and water reserves.

(Image: Reproduction/NASA Haughton Mars Project/Pascal Lee)

IT IS displays maps and a variety of data that assist astronauts in scientific and exploration activities and even sample management. “We see integrating our technology into a space suit as a game changer for driving EVAs,” added Greg Quinn, lead advanced space suit development at Collins. The autonomy of the astronaut acquired by the information from the space suit will serve as support for when, already on the Moon, they are temporarily out of connection with Earth.

Tests were conducted early each morning to take advantage of the light conditions experienced on the Moon. The sites also offered a variety of terrain with expected topographical challenges at the lunar south pole. The team also celebrated the successful integration of the Astronaut Smart Glove (ASG) system, coupled to the helmet and glove of the suit. The ASG allows the astronaut to remotely operate a number of robotic resources such as rovers and drones.

Source: Phys.org, SETI

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