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Benefits of a Single-Person Spacecraft for Weightless OperationsHistorically, less than 20 percent of crew time related to extravehicular activity (EVA) is spent on productive external work.1 A single-person spacecraft with 90 percent efficiency provides productive new capabilities for maintaining the International Space Station (ISS), exploring asteroids, and servicing telescopes or satellites. With suits, going outside to inspect, service or repair a spacecraft is time-consuming, requiring pre-breathe time, donning a fitted space suit, and pumping down an airlock. For ISS, this is between 12.5 and 16 hours for each EVA, not including translation and work-site set up. The work is physically demanding requiring a day of rest between EVAs and often results in suit-induced trauma with frequent injury to astronauts fingers2. For maximum mobility, suits use a low pressure, pure oxygen atmosphere. This represents a fire hazard and requires pre-breathing to reduce the risk of decompression sickness (bends). With virtually no gravity, humans exploring asteroids cannot use legs for walking. The Manned Maneuvering Unit offers a propulsive alternative however it is no longer in NASA s flight inventory. FlexCraft is a single person spacecraft operating at the same cabin atmosphere as its host so there is no risk of the bends and no pre-breathing. This allows rapid, any-time access to space for repeated short or long EVAs by different astronauts. Integrated propulsion eliminates hand-over-hand translation or having another crew member operate the robotic arm. The one-size-fits-all FlexCraft interior eliminates the suit part inventory and crew time required to fit all astronauts. With a shirtsleeve cockpit, conventional displays and controls are used and because the work is not strenuous no rest days are required. Furthermore, there is no need for hand tools because manipulators are equipped with force multiplying end-effectors that can deliver the precise torque for the job.
Document ID
20120013602
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Griffin, Brand N. (Gray Research, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 26, 2013
Publication Date
March 15, 2012
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Report/Patent Number
M12-1462
M11-0917
Meeting Information
42nd International Conference on Environmental Systems(San Diego, CA)
Funding Number(s)
CONTRACT_GRANT: NNM05AB50C
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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