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article imageOne-person spacecraft could replace many spacewalking activities

By Karen Graham     Oct 5, 2018 in Technology
A single-person spacecraft designed to eventually replace the bulky spacesuits worn by astronauts during spacewalking activities passed two key pressure tests in September, according to company representatives.
The single-person spacecraft (SPS) is a product of Maryland-based Genesis Engineering Solutions' (GES) Commercial Technologies Division. Established in 1993, GES, Inc. has built a reputation for being on the “Genesis” of cutting-edge technologies coupled with engineering development.
The SPS is designed for one person and allows the astronaut to freely float within the spacecraft for several hours, using the robotic arms to manipulate equipment or do repairs.
Artist s conception of the Genesis single-person spacecraft
Artist's conception of the Genesis single-person spacecraft
W. Myers/Genesis Engineering Solutions
The SPS also has propulsion thrusters that allow the spacecraft to stay close to its target. The SPS is similar to NASA's Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) jetpack that was first tested in February 1984 when Bruce McCandless II became the first astronaut to become his own spacecraft, strapping on the MMU jet-powered backpack and flying tether free during a historic spacewalk.
McCandless also served as Neil Armstrong's contact in Mission Control when the Apollo 11 moonwalker took "one small step" onto the lunar surface in 1969. McCandless died on December 21, 2017, at the age of 80.
NASA eventually retired the MMU after six astronauts used it on three shuttle missions, but crew members using U.S. spacesuits at the International Space Station (ISS) wear a smaller jetpack for emergency use if they become separated from the orbiting laboratory.
Bruce McCandless tested the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) on the first tetherless spacewalk in Febru...
Bruce McCandless tested the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) on the first tetherless spacewalk in February 1984.
NASA
Designed for extra-vehicular activity (EVA), including servicing/exploration of the ISS, near-Earth objects (NEOs), and satellites, the SPS can be piloted or teleoperated. It also uses the same atmosphere as the host vehicle providing immediate access to space without pre-breathing or airlock. It is also comfortable enough that it will accommodate all crew members regardless of size, according to the company's website.
The SPS still needs to pass several major tests on the ground before it is ready for space. One test will be to ensure the spacecraft can hold pressure. Genesis engineers performed the tests in early September at the facility of their manufacturing partner, AMRO Fabricating Corp in South El Monte, California.
The first test showed the crew cabin could hold pressure even when subjected to 1.5 times the expected operating pressure. The second test showed some minimal leaks at the joints. Project manager Brand Griffin told Space.com, the goal is "to have no leaks at all."
A technician at Genesis Engineering Solutions readies a prototype of its single-person spacecraft fo...
A technician at Genesis Engineering Solutions readies a prototype of its single-person spacecraft for pressure testing.
Genesis Engineering Solutions
"We passed the overall pressure test, and we passed the leak test, and what we're trying to do as a test philosophy is to look at all those things we can test on the ground to save money," Griffin said
Later this year, Genesis plans to do a ground-based propulsion-thruster test. The parts for the thruster have to be custom-made in-house and will require certification. After that will come testing of the robotic manipulator system, This will be done in partnership with SRI (formerly the Stanford Research Institute).
More about singleperson spacecraft, Genesis Engineering Solution, NASA, nasa Gateway, extravehicular activity
 
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