Private space suits now undergoing Zero-G testing in preparation for commercial launches
Final Frontier Design, a developer of space suits for NASA is in the process of testing a new suit for commercial flights. Their space suits have just undergone a third round of flight testing in preparation for eventual use on space tourist flights.
Testing the space suits
Last October, the company tested their 3G Intra-Vehicular Activity Suit on three flights over Ottawa. They used Falcon 20 jets for the tests. Each flight took on 18 parabolas which were used to simulate the microgravity environment the suits would be used in. The most recent test was done “visor down” or with the suit completely sealing its wearer. In previous tests, the suit visor was up.
“One of the biggest risks of microgravity is vomit. If you vomit inside a closed spacesuit in microgravity, there’s a risk of inhalation and choking on your own vomit,” Southern said. “It’s a big step to go visor-down because of the risk involved, and also because you’re relying on a life support system to sustain someone.” said Ted Southern, Co-founder of Final Frontier.
All spacesuit test subjects were tested for vital signs. We tested for blood oxygen, carbon dioxide, core temperature, and heart rate. The test subjects had to operate a control system while using a joystick and monitor. They did this throughout the course of the tests.
Interested parties are awaiting the results of Final Frontier’s space suits tests. Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere), is one of them. PoSSUM intends to use the suits for their scientists who are to study cloud formations in the mesosphere. Another organization is Canada’s National Research Council. The research organization aims to understand the reason why astronauts get sick while in space.
At present, Final Frontier Design is based at Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. They have developed seven space suits since the company’s beginnings in 2009. The company is eyeing partnerships with various organizations such as Zero 2 Infinity, a ballooning company based in Spain, and Starfighters Aerospace, a company that operates F-104 supersonic aircraft for commercial and scientific purposes.