Our Spacesuit Simulators
A "Space Ship to wear" for missions on the red planet.
Aouda Spacesuit Simulator
“Aouda.X” is the first generation of the advanced spacesuit simulator for future human Mars missions of the Austrian Space Forum. This prototype was developed between 2009 and 2018 and emulates the restrictions of an actual planetary surface spacesuit, like weight, resistance or limited sensory input, whilst protecting the (analog) astronaut from the environment and keeping him/her alive. An elaborate human-machine interface, including a sensor network and specifically developed software assists the astronaut during planetary surface operations. The 45kg heavy prototype has been developed to optimize interactions with other (robotic) components, like a rover, and minimize the risk of human contamination. The Aouda suits are operated by carefully selected and trained analog astronauts of the Austrian Space Forum.
What is our spacesuit simulator capable of?
Apart from restrictions to movement and senses, it is designed to minimize a biological of contamination of soil samples. Our research has shown that the physiological workload while wearing a spacesuit is an important factor for mission planning. By using an up to date human-machine interface it also acts as a virtual assistant for the astronaut, something which has not been possible, for example, with the spacesuits worn during the lunar landings. The analog astronaut can eat and drink inside the suit, has a voice command an gesture control (in development) for a built-in Head-Up Display. Aouda is able to interact with robotic mission elements, like rovers or geoscientific equipment.
- 45kg Hard-Upper-Torso, supplied with ambient air (in order to correctly replicate the weight to strength ratio present on Mars)
- Outer hull: Panox/Kevlar composite textile with aluminum coating
- An adjustable exoskeleton which can simulate various pressure admissions on Mars
- Biomedical and technical telemetry via broadband-WiFi (including of video, audio, temperature, Co2/O2 sensors, GPS, air pressure/humidity, acceleration…
- Human-Machine interface including speach recognition and acceleration sensors.
Selected publications (for recent references please consult the OeWF publication list):
(1) G.E. Groemer, M. Storrie-Lombardi, B. Sattler, O. Hauser, K. Bickert, E. Hauth, S. Hauth, U. Luger, D. Schildhammer, D. Foeger, J. Klauck: “Reducing biological contamination by a space suited astronaut: Laboratory and field test results from Aouda.X”, Acta Astronautica (2010)
(2) G. Groemer, B. Sattler, U. Luger: „Preliminary Analysis of Spacesuit Contamination Vectors during a simulated crewed Mars surface expedition”, Conf. Proc. of the Joint meeting of the EPSC & DPS, Nantes, Oct 2011, p 1-2.
(3) G. Groemer, et al: “The Aouda.X Space Suit Simulator and Its Applications to Astrobiology”, ASTROBIOLOGY, Volume 12, Number 2, 2012
- Weight: 45kg on Earth (this corresponds to a mass of 120kg, weighing in at 45 kg on Mars)
- Operating time with one battery charge, measured from locking of helmet: 4-6 hrs (depends on individual usage and ambient temperature)
- Donning time of suit: 3 hrs
- WiFi range >1km
- Aouda.X & Aouda.S: These are the spacesuit simulators which are deployed on field missions. In order to wear one of these suits, a certificate by the Austrian Space Forum is mandatory.
- Aouda.A & Aouda.D: These are non-operational versions for exhibitions/museums
Frequently asked Questions
Can I have a go in the suit? – We are sorry, but no. Only certificated analog astronauts are allowed to work with Aouda.
We need the suit for a movie or an exhibition – is this possible? – Under certain circumstances, the two museum-versions (Aouda.A & Aouda.D) can be given as a loan, but not the full working versions.
Can I visit the Spacesuit-Lab of the Austrian Space Forum? – While the lab is not publicly available, rare exceptions are possible, for example for a group of technically interested peers.
Images of Aouda
Serenity Spacesuit Simulator
The SERENITY spacesuit simulator is a second-generation spacesuit simulator of the Austrian Space Forum. Mimicking the restrictions and technical aids expected for a Mars spacesuit in 2-3 decades. Inorder to reflect the correct force-to-mass ratio, selected subsystems are open-loop systems (like TCS and ventilation) to allow for a realistic weight perception.
SERENITY is based upon 10 years of development on the preceding Aouda.X suit, including 750+ simulated EVA hours during 12 field missions and laboratory tests
The development of the Serenity spacesuits started in 2018, the commissioning will take place in 2020. All analog astronauts will be trained on this new generation of spacesuit.
The biggest change to the Aouda spacesuit is the implementation of a rear-entry concept. That means instead of donning several parts of the spacesuit e.g. shoes, trousers, hard-upper torso the analog astronaut enters the suits on the back side. The suit itself will be docked at a suitport on the outside of a habitat. The big advantage is that on the one hand, sand & dust stays outside the habitat (contamination!) and on the other side that donning time can be reduced about 50%. This time can be used to do more experiments during a Mars simulation.
This concept correlates to the most recent standards of Mars analog research.
- EVA duration envelope of >5 hour
- Temperature limits: 0°C – 60°C
- W-LAN range (with field infrastructure): up to 15 km
The Serenity spacesuit is developed in participation with international and national high-tech companies and universities.
This article is available in: German