Exploration EVA Workshop
July 25, 2019

in partnership with NASA Johnson Space Center

The Technology Collaboration Center, in partnership with the NASA Johnson Space Center, held an Exploration EVA (ExtraVehicular Activity) Workshop at the NASA Johnson Space Center, on Thursday, July 25.

During the morning sessions, there were briefings on the Exploration EVA program strategy and challenges.  In the afternoon, there will be collaboration forum sessions with group discussions on several topic areas covering NASA's interests and potential opportunities for the outside community.


  •  7:30  Registration & Networking Breakfast
        sponsored by Aerospace Corporation
  •  8:00  Welcome
        Bob Prochnow, Technology Collaboration Center
        Brian Johnson, NASA Johnson Space Center
        Guest Speaker
        John McCullough, NASA Johnson Space Center
  •  8:45  National Policy Directives & EVA
        Brian Alpert, Strategic Planning & Architecture Lead
  •  9:15  xEMU Demonstration Status
        Jesse Buffington, xEVA System Development Lead
  • 10:00  Networking Break
        sponsored by Oceaneering
  • 10:15  Exploration EVA Challenges: Operations & Planetary Science (READy)
        David Coan, EVA Operations & Engineering Specialist
  • 11:00  Exploration EVA Challenges: Human Health & Performance (testing plan)
        Andrew Abercromby, Human Physiology, Performance, Protection & Operations (H-3PO) Laboratory Lead
        Jason Norcross, Senior Scientist for H-3PO
        Eduardo Beltran, Biomechanics Engineer, Anthropometry & Biomechanics Facility
  • 12:00  Lunch
        sponsored by Collins Aerospace
        Guest Speaker
        Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
  •  1:00  Collaborative Forum: Exploration EVA Challenges - Hardware Development & Gaps
        Raul Blanco, Deputy Chief, Crew & Thermal Systems Division
  •  2:45  Networking Break
  •  3:00  Collaborative Forum: Paving a Path to an EVA Suit "Standard"
        Jesse Buffington, xEVA System Development Lead
  •  5:05  Closing Remarks
  •  6:00-7:30 Networking Reception

Next Generation Spacesuit Technology Challenges:

Cis-Lunar (microgravity EVA beyond LEO) – Needed for flight in next 5-7 years

  • High Strength-to-Mass Ratio Components (Enhancing; Enabling for surface)
    • Need mass/stress-optimized structures for PGS upper torso, bearings, and brief to bring PGS mass below 150 lb
    • Previously evaluated chopped fiber composite bearings, composite upper torso and brief, and titanium bearings
  • Low-Consumable Trace Contaminant Removal (Enhancing)
    • Need a continuous trace contaminant removal capability that is regenerative (not a routinely consumable item).
    • Activated charcoal is the state of the art and provides a logistics hit to all exploration reference missions to remove NH3, CO, CH2O, CH3SH, etc. The minimum objective would be to remove all of the significant compounds that threaten to exceed the 7-day SMAC during an EVA with the optimal objective to enable removal of less significant compounds.
  • Graphical Display and Input Device (Enabling)
    • Need a radiation tolerant graphical display that is compatible with the suit (either 100% O2 compatible and inside the PGS -OR-compatible with the helmet & visors) and operable by the suited crewmember.
  • Dust Tolerant Mechanisms (Enabling for surface)
    • Need bearings and mechanisms (relief valves, purge valves, disconnects, rear entry hatch, actuators, etc) that function after being exposed to direct dust and/or that are easily maintained during a mission
  • Active Tintable Electronic Visor Coating (Enhancing)
    • Need to incorporate active tintable electronic coating technologies such as electrochromics or variable solar reflectance into a polycarbonate helmet

Lunar Surface (partial gravity) – Needed for flight in next 6-10 years

  • Environmental Protection Garment (Enabling)
    • Need dust tolerant and maintainable/cleanable fabric and suit integration mechanism with thermal protection sufficient for vacuum thermal environment.
  • Previous testing has shown advantages to coated fabrics with bonded seams at preventing dust migration but coatings failed early in presence of abrasive lunar regolith
    • Also need refined methodology for assessing abrasion resistance of materials and dust migration through EPG.
  • Surface Optimized Space Suit Boots (Enabling)
    • Need boots compatible with mobility (ankle and mid-foot) required for walking in gravity environments that maintain stability on loose and uneven terrain, can be adjusted at pressure to improve fit during EVA, provide proper insulation from conductive ground contact (+/-250F), durable for abrasive dirt and dust environment, and comfortable for multi-hour wear
    • Previous boot iterations have highlighted ankle transition as key design problem: need volume to don/doff boot but also provide stability to prevent heel slip and blisters during active use

Mars Surface (partial gravity, partial atmosphere) – Needed for flight in next 10-20 years

  • Environmental Protection Garment (Enabling)
    • Need dust tolerant and maintainable/cleanable fabric and suit integration mechanism with more thermal protection for non-vacuum thermal environment.
  • Non-vacuum Continuous CO2/RH Removal (Enabling)
    • Need continuous CO2/RH removal capability that can operate within the vacuum and Martian atmospheres
    • Specific areas of interest include:
    • Update/supersede amine state of the art
      • Improvements in amine uptake
      • Alternative processes such as temperature swing adsorption, selective permeable membranes, etc.
    • Augment amine operation using thermal swing adsorption approach
    • Augment amine operating using boost compressor to enable pressure swing operation in the Martian atmosphere
  • Dust Tolerant Mechanisms (Enabling)
    • Need protection of bearings, relief valves, purge valves, disconnects, rear entry hatch, actuators and other mechanisms to preclude dust from hampering motion / function over operational life on Martian surface
    • Soil constituent parts are dissimilar to lunar soil in both physical and chemical properties
  • Heat Rejection for Vacuum and Non-vacuum Applications (Enhancing)
    • Need heat rejection compatible with vacuum and Martian environment.
    • The current state of the art is the Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator (SWME) with degraded performance under Martian conditions.
    • LiCl radiators that capture the H2O vapor from the SWME provide a potential solution. A boost compressor on the SWME vapor outlet could potentially yield improved cooling.
  • Bio-med sensor (Enabling)
    • Need a radiation hardened, wearable biomedical system which does not require the crew to shave that provides heart rate and rhythm data, at a minimum
    • Must be compatible with 100% oxygen environment
  • Multi-gas Monitoring (Enhancing)
    • Need a system to measure/monitor (O2, CO2, H2O), (NH3, CO, CH2O, CH3SH), etc.
    • Measuring of the trace contaminants becomes more necessary with a pressure or temperature swing adsorption continuous removal approach for trace contaminants as it would remove the traditional activated charcoal cartridge from the list of logistics items but would require some level of validation that the function was operating beyond the human nose.