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WORLD SPACE WEEK 2013 PRESS RELEASE
10 OCTOBER 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THREE MARS ANALOGUE SPACESUIT TEAMS PERFORM SIMULTANEOUS EXPERIMENTS FOR WORLD SPACE WALK 2013
One of the key elements of equipment for a future human expedition to Mars will be a spacesuit that allows astronauts to roam the Martian surface. Now, for the first time, three Mars analogue suit development teams around the world have performed simultaneous experiments, coordinated from a single mission control centre. The experiments are a first step in developing a universal standard for comparing Mars analogue suits in terms of the impact they have on the agility and dexterity of the suit wearers. The ‘World Space Walk 2013’ coordinated tests took place on Tuesday 8th October as a highlight of World Space Week 2013, which this year has the theme of ‘Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth’. The tests were designed and led by the Austrian Space Forum, which also provided the Mission Control Centre for the campaign. The spacesuit experiments were carried out in Innsbruck, North Dakota and Utah, with additional support from France.
Explorers on the surface of Mars will face a cold, dusty environment with a thin atmosphere of mainly carbon dioxide. Away from any settlement on an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA), they will need to rely on their spacesuit to provide oxygen to breathe and a comfortable temperature, pressure and atmosphere in which to work.
Experiment designer, Alexander Soucek of the Austrian Space Forum, explains,
“In order to provide the safe environment needed by astronauts, spacesuits can be cumbersome and heavy. If future mission planners are to select the right suit for the right expedition, they need to have independent data for comparing and evaluating suits created by different teams.”
The ‘World Space Walk’ spacesuit testers performed agility and mobility tasks wearing:
- the Aouda.X suit developed by the Austrian Space Forum in Innsbruck, Austria
- the NDX-2 suit developed by the Human Spaceflight Laboratory of the University of North Dakota, USA
- analogue suits at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), Utah, USA.
The deep-sea diving specialists, Comex, in Marseille, France also participated in the tests by monitoring telemetry data from the suits. Comex is the designer of the Gandolfi spacesuit, which was used recently by the European Space Agency to recreate the activities of the Apollo 11 astronauts under the sea in the Bay of Marseille.
- The World Space Walk suit testers performed the following three experimental activities wearing their Mars analogue spacesuits:
Complete an obstacle course. Erect a tripod. Mount a gnomon (sundial) on tripod.
- Complete an obstacle course. Take a camera from the spacesuit’s pocket. Take pictures of feet and horizon pointing north, south, east and west.
- Complete an obstacle course. Take out a sample bag, collect a rock sample and place in the bag. Label the sample bag and place in container.
“The World Space Walk experiments are designed to give a statistical measurement of the average time delay between performing typical activities wearing the spacesuit as compared to performing same activities unsuited,”
says analogue astronaut, Luca Foresta, who participated in the experiments wearing the Aouda.X suit.
The World Space Walk tests are a continuation of experiments run by the Austrian Space Forum during their Mars 2013 analogue field-campaign, which took place in Morocco in February this year. During the campaign, analogue astronauts carried out six experiments first wearing the Aouda.X suit and then without the suit, testing out different aspects of agility e.g. walking over rough terrain or the dexterity of hands and fingers when working with small technical devices. The analogue astronauts followed pre-defined movement patterns along an obstacle path of 9 meters by 20 metres. Results from the Mars 2013 tests have been submitted for publication in a special edition of the scientific journal, Astrobiology, for publication in early 2014.
“If we are going to prepare for a human mission to Mars in the future, we need to have as much knowledge as possible on the practicalities and limitations of working in spacesuits on planetary terrains. For World Space Walk 2013, we have had the amazing opportunity to work with four different teams who are developing spacesuits and to collaborate on the same set of tasks. This technical test is a simple, yet important, first milestone to compare different analogue suit systems worldwide and to contribute to a growing area of research,”
says Gernot Groemer, the President of the Austrian Space Forum.
Images and videos can be found at:
Highlights from the World Space Walk Mass EVA from the Google Hangout coordinated from the Mission Control Centre, Innsbruck. Credit: OeWF/World Space Week Association
University of North Dakota: Introduction by NDX-2 suit tester,Tiffany Swarmer (1.3MB, 16sec). Credit: Pablo de León/Tiffany Swarmer/UND Aerospace Network
University of North Dakota: Rock collection D-TREX Experiment (10.4 MB, 2 min 14 sec). Credit: Pablo de León/Tiffany Swarmer/UND Aerospace Network
University of North Dakota: Participation in World Space Week 2013 (255.2 MB, 56 min, 02 sec). Credit: Pablo de León/Tiffany Swarmer/UND Aerospace Network
HD Footage – University of North Dakota: Participation in World Space Week 2013 (168.8 MB, 2 min). Credit: Pablo de León/Tiffany Swarmer/UND Aerospace Network
Comex Presentation on Gandolfi
President, Austrian Space Forum / Mission Control Center Sillufer 3a, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria www.oewf.org
Pablo de León
Director, UND Space Suit Laboratory
Department of Space Studies
University of North Dakota
Principal Investigator of DELTA/D-TREX Spacesuit Experiments Austrian Space Forum (OeWF)
Anita Heward, Press Officer
WSW 2013 ‘Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth’
+44 7756 034243
Monika Fischer, Press Officer
Austrian Space Forum
Postfach 76, A-1072 Vienna, Austria
+43 (0)699 1213 4610
Director, Media & Public Relations
The Mars Society
WORLD SPACE WEEK
In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 4-10 annually as World Space Week. Its purpose is “to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”.ÂÂÂ It is coordinated by the World Space Week Association, an international non-profit organization.
WORLD SPACE WEEK 2013 – EXPLORING MARS, DISCOVERING EARTH The theme for World Space Week 2013 is ‘Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth.’ Between 4-10 October a campaign of networked Mars analog demonstrations has been coordinated from the WSW 2013 Mission Control Center, located at the Austrian Space Forum in Innsbruck, Austria.ÂÂÂ Activities included the WSW 2013 Mission to Mars, a 4-day simulation of a human Mars expedition at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.ÂÂÂ The 5-person crew was led by Jon Rask from the Space Biosciences Division at NASA Ames Research Center.ÂÂÂ
The ‘Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth’ Mars analog campaign has been organized by the World Space Week Association, the Austrian Space Forum, The Space Generation Advisory Council, The Mars Society and the KiwiSpace Foundation.
World Space Week 2013 reached record proportions with over 1000 events in around 70 nations.
AUSTRIAN SPACE FORUM
The Austrian Space Forum (ÖsterreichischesWeltraum Forum, OeWF) is a national network for space researchers and space enthusiasts with a focus on Mars exploration. The organization organizes international field simulations, flies stratospheric research balloons and developed the Aouda.X spacesuit simulator, one of the worlds’ most advanced Mars exploration suit simulators. The organization serves as a communication platform between the space sector and the public, and is committed to communicating the fascination of pace exploration to a broad audience.
HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT LABORATORY, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA The University of North Dakota (UND) Human Spaceflight Laboratory is part of the Department of Space Studies and offers formal involvement in Graduate/Undergraduate Research Positions, NASA projects, and activities related to human spaceflight.
The first two main outcomes of our research are our two space suits prototypes. The University of North Dakota (UND) is the first university with a NASA-funded laboratory dedicated to designing and constructing space-exploration and planetary surface exploration suits. The first suit, the North Dakota Experimental-1 (NDX-1) suit, was designed for use on the surface of Mars. The second suit, the North Dakota Experimental-2 (NDX-2) suit, was designed for testing in lunar simulations.
At the Human Spaceflight Laboratory, our recent efforts involve the design, construction, and testing of an Inflatable Lunar Habitat (ILH), with an attached electric rover and two NDX-2 planetary suits. The mission behind the joined habitat, rover, and planetary suits is the testing of a conceptual planetary (Moon/Mars) base.
MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION
The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the San Rafael desert of Utah (close to Hanksville) is operated by The Mars Society to serve as a test bed for planetary surface operation studies, helping to deﬁne key habitat design features, ﬁeld exploration strategies, tools, technologies and crew selection protocols. Typically, six-person crews spend two weeks during the field seasons starting towards the end of the year. The station has a central habitat, a greenhab, a small observatory and technical support infrastructure. For the research activities, it offers basic spacesuit simulators, three All-Terrain Vehicles and a small bio/geo laboratory.
The Compagnie Maritime d’Expertise or COMEX is a worldwide pioneer in the development of technologies for human interventions in extreme environments. COMEX is active today in various fields related to subsea intervention. The enterprise has a fleet of Research Vessels for Oceanographic research and survey, subsea robots that can dive down to 2500m and even a manned submersible “REMORA 2000” for a crew of two. Comex still holds the two deepest world professional diving records with hydrogen gas mixture. The first, named HYDRA 8, was performed in offshore conditions at -534 Metres Sea Water (MSW) depth (1988). The second one HYDRA 10 was achieved in an hyperbaric chamber at -701 MSW depth (1992).
In the 1990s COMEX participated in the training of European astronauts underwater, where microgravity (weightlessness) can be simulated. During World Space Week, Comex presented training tools and recent projects to train astronauts for future missions to Moon and Mars, such as the Apollo XI under the sea mission.
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