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Students from universities in the UK, Germany, and around Austria descended on Innsbruck for the first (of hopefully many more) two day intensive course entitled “Introduction to Space Suits”, run by the Austrian Space Forum.
With only two days together, and a lot of interesting material to cover, students were treated to a wide range of lectures and activities, including subjects such as communication systems, on board data handling, and ESA case studies. Over the two days, they learnt about the basics of space suits, and the difficulties involved for humans during space walks. An up close and personal look at the Austrian Space Forum’s (OeWF) Aouda Space Suit Simulator was the highlight for many of the students. Along with time spent in the classroom, learning about other Analog suits, and the recent MARS2013 mission in the Sahara, the students were able to spend significant time in the Space Suit Laboratory.
Over the two days, the students practiced using the Aouda Suit gloves, chest pack and exoskeleton, as well as learning about Mission Support and training involved for the analog astronauts. They experienced how difficult some simple tasks, such as tying your shoes, can be while wearing bulky space suit gloves. Their practice and study cumulated in a final “mission” – where students donned a hefty training backpack, suit gloves and chest pack, along with a communications headset. This enabled the other students in a mockup of “Mission Support” to direct and instruct the analog astronaut in how to construct a transceiver, such as might be done in a real mission.
The students all agreed that it was a great opportunity to learn more about Aouda X, the Austrian Space Forum, and some of the challenges facing astronauts, as well as getting to socialize with like-minded people and make friends from around Europe. Many of the students will return to Innsbruck in the summer to begin internships and Master’s dissertations with the Austrian Space Forum.
A second course, which is expected to have double the participants, will run in July.
Author: Taylor-Gabrielle Moyer
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