Orion Suited Crew Testing

Image Credit: NASA/ James Blair

Image Credit: NASA/ James Blair

March 31, 2016 – Engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are evaluating how crews inside a mockup of the Orion spacecraft interact with the rotational hand controller and cursor control device while inside their Modified Advanced Crew Escape spacesuits.

The controllers are used to operate Orion’s displays and control system, which the crew will use to maneuver and interact with the spacecraft during missions to deep space destinations.

The Modified Advanced Crew Escape Suit, is an upgraded version of the launch and entry suits worn by space shuttle astronauts.

Through a series of tests, engineers are learning what features need to be included to improve the suit’s mobility beyond the needs of the trip from the launch pad to space and its return to Earth, such as enhanced gloves and elbow joints with improved mobility. This test provided data that teams need to make sure astronauts who ride to space in Orion can appropriately interact with the control system while in their suits.

As NASA plans human deep space missions, including a voyage to a relocated asteroid, care is being taken to efficiently use space inside Orion. The white Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuits used by crews to conducts spacewalks on the International Space Station are too bulky to carry in the spacecraft, so NASA is altering the ACES suits for multiple uses both inside and outside the spacecraft. The crew escape suit, along with Orion, will contain all the necessary functions to support life and is being designed to enable spacewalks and sustain the crew in the unlikely event the spacecraft loses pressure.

Colorado-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems leads the Orion industry team as the prime contractor building the Orion spacecraft. Orion will carry astronauts on deep-space missions beyond the moon, to asteroids, and eventually Mars.