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From the 24th to the 26th of June Space Air could be smelled in the centre of the Salzkammergut, or more precisely in the empirial Spa of Bad Ischl. 14 members of the space forum have choosen this place (which was also witness to the engagement of emperor Franz-Joseph and “Sissy”) to discuss the future of “our princess” – the space suit Aouda.X.
Friday afternoon started with some well known procedure: A close look at the SRD (System Requirements Document), which contains the key definitions of the suit (how heavy is it allowed to get, which temperatures does it have to withstand etc.). From a review of the Rio Tinto mission we then looked ahead to the future: Desertareas fill the projection screen, in the middle we can see Aouda.X, on board Eurobot: This could be our vision for 2012/2013. Now it is up to us to make it real.
The second day of the workshop starts with clouds, which partly hide the mountainous area of the Salzkammergut. We are probably the only ones who are glad about the bad weather – we have to spend the day inside anyway! We further discuss and plan for Aouda’s future (Note: Aouda.X is named after the indian princes in Jules Vernes “Around the world in 80 days). We also plan a new field mission.
From the first day we already know the basic scenario: 10 people, 10 days, 10x10km sized area with a mission control centre in Austria. Now we have to define the different roles which will have to be filled. This starts some heated discussions – especially when we touch the point of “Safety”. Thomas Luger suggests that a second suit tester would be more appropriate. Gernot Groemer adds that this second person does not necessarily need a full suit “just some gloves would do the job”. Finally we agree on a second suit tester – but we will also need someone responsible for safety, who will have to ensure the safety of our simulation. This means, that there are two extra places to fill. Now it is time to define exactly what the jobs of every person are going to be.
The last point on our agenda before we go into a well deserved lunch break is command infrastructure and the development of an operations (OPS) box. We will have to ensure that we are able to communicate over distances of 10km. The idea of an OPS box was born out of a lesson learnt in Rio Tinto, where our laptops got damages by sand and dust. The OPS box should replace individual laptops and offer work sations for four people. It will have to be protected against dust/sand and water. Depending on need, several OPS boxes could be connected to provide more work stations.
After lunch we divide the team in two groups: OBDH (on-board-data handling) and Life Support. The OBDH group tries to find solutions to questions regarding data collection and handling from both Aouda and the rover: How are the data going to be stored, and how can we visualise them in the mission support centre?
Lisa Sonnleithner explains plans to include acceleration sensors in the gloves. Together with Michael Schober they will develop the stability of the sensors, while Stefan Hauth will take care of steering via gestures. Egon Winter presents a mobile EKG which he has developed. It uses a cheststrap and bluetooth to transfer the data.
The Life Support group deals with the issue of which materials to use for the suit. The outer layer has to be sewn over summer, which means that adjustements – especially for the trousers – are possible. This is necessary due to some different positioning of batteries, and also the use of a new zip. Another important point are possible enhancements for TCS (Thermal Control System). Again, the mission in Rio Tinto has shown several weaknesses of this system. New ideas concerning the air flow and cooling have been found and will now be implemented over the next months
„The second day of the work shop was very intense. There are so many screws we have to turn to enhance the suit. The main importance hower is to define priorities, so we can all work together towards the same goal“, Eva Hauth (OBDH Team & Rio Tinto Fieldcrew).
It is perfect workshop weather again as we wake up on Sunday morning: slight drizzle. A flipchart filled with our timeline is already awaiting us. It has all the milestones and to do lists we discussed yesterday on it. With the mornings fresh minds, we add more steps (OBDH, Science, Life Support …) up to June 2012. Different opinions on when we have to accomplish the distinct milestones exist among the team. We identify the need for training and also some slack time which we will probably need. Apart from multiple lab tests we also define a big mileston we want to reach by easter 2012: a big field test, somewhere in a big, dry desert.
„This workshop was of extreme importance, as it gave us the chance to define the next big milestones after our Rio Tinto Mission “, so Gernot Grömer, „jeach and every one of us goes home with several things to accomplish over the next months, but we all want to be able to do a large scale desert test by february 2013.“
We also want to give our heartfelt thanks to families Gahleitner and Sams for their hospitality during the three days.
„It was very nice, we really enjoyed ourselves!“
This article is available in: German
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