Mechanical Counterpressure and Gas-Pressurized Fusion Spacesuit Concept to Enable Martian Planetary Exploration
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We present a spacesuit architecture to enable planetary exploration of Mars by combining mechanical counterpressure (MCP) with gas-pressurization (GP). To assess the feasibility and benefit of implementing two separate pressure layers in the suit, the design space was narrowed by performing a trade analysis from the following criteria: Mobility; Technical feasibility; Risk of decompression sickness (DCS); System mass; System complexity; and Robustness. Each of these elements was numerically modeled and system metrics were established for each to find a desirable pressure layer configuration. Preliminary results are presented for combined system performance across different levels of total pressure and different degrees of pressure contribution from the MCP and GP layers. Future work includes performing a design analysis on the technical challenges of combining these pressure garment systems. This conceptual design has the potential to offer a quantifiable increase in mobility, increases in safety through pressure layer redundancy, and decreased pre-breathe time to improve operational efficiency. This paper outlines an alternative to gas-pressurized suits on the surface of Mars and is the first step toward quantifying and evaluating the potential improvement and impact on exploration mission objectives.