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Draper/MIT Space Suits Could Enable Asteroid Exploration, Satellite Repairs
Date:5/29/2013

CAMBRIDGE, MA (PRWEB) May 29, 2013

Engineers at Draper and MIT are collaborating with NASA to develop specialized suits that could enable astronauts to explore asteroids and repair satellites, as well as make it easier for them to live and work in and around space stations.

Astronauts conducting extravehicular activities (EVAs, or spacewalks) risk floating away if they do many of the things that are taken for granted on Earth, such as turning a wrench while servicing a satellite, or digging with a shovel during exploration. While their current spacesuits include a jetpack that can take them back to their position on the International Space Station should they float away, a free-floating suited astronaut is not able to counteract the forces and torques that are generated during spacewalking tasks, something that gravity handles here on Earth

Incorporating Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs) on an external spacesuit’s jetpack would keep the astronauts stable by adding attitude control to offset torques and forces and increase range of motion, said Bobby Cohanim, Draper’s Mission Design Group leader.

Servicing on operational satellites has required tethering onto the space shuttle for stability, but a spacesuit based on this technology could enable astronauts to rendezvous with the spacecraft and make repairs in free space. Using the CMGs would conserve propellant in the jetpacks, reducing mass and extending potential exploration time.

Draper and MIT hope to test the jetpack and CMG system in the Virtual Reality Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center this summer. The project is funded internally at Draper with focused collaboration with MIT and NASA Johnson Space Center.

Draper is also developing wearable modules that use CMGs to sim
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