Rapid Cycle Amine Testing History
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NASA is developing an Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) targeted as a flight demonstration unit on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023. A major subsystem of the xEMU is the portable life support system (PLSS) designed to allow an astronaut to conduct an extravehicular activity (EVA) or spacewalk. To meet the requirements of this new advanced space suit, the development progression of the PLSS has been focused in increasing capability, redundancy, and efficiency along with a reduction of power and packaging volume. One of the most progressive game-changing components design to help the PLSS meet its requirements is the Rapid Cycle Amine (RCA) swing-bed technology. The RCA is a regenerable technology with the ability to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) and humidity (H2O) on a continual basis. The regeneration of the RCA is continual with exposure to vacuum creating the ability for life expectancy of up to 100 EVAs without change-out. The development of the RCA technology has been in progress since favorable results were published in 1996. Thus far, three prototypical RCA units have been designed, built, and tested for the xEMU PLSS in order to assess design, optimum canister size, and performance capability. Each prototype iteration leverages and extends the learned to help orient a success path toward the xEMU flight demonstration on ISS. Over the last several years, the design iterations and comparison of the RCA prototypes for the xEMU PLSS have been well documented. More recently, an effort has been made to assess the overall testing on each of the RCA units and associated results; this paper will primarily focus on the history of the developmental testing of the RCA.