I-Suit

I-Suit

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The I-Suit is a spacesuit model constructed by ILC Dover
ILC Dover
ILC Dover, LP is an engineering development and manufacturing company based in Frederica, Delaware. ILC specializes in the use of high-performance flexible materials, serving the aerospace, personal protection, and pharmaceutical industries.Best known for making space suits for NASA, ILC...

. The suit began as an EVA mobility demonstrator, developed to meet a contract awarded by NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 to ILC in 1997 for an all-soft suit.

The I-Suit is designed for multiple roles, including planetary excursion and microgravity EVA. The first generation I-Suit is configured to work with the existing Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 EMU
Extravehicular Mobility Unit
The Space Shuttle/International Space Station Extravehicular Mobility Unit is an independent anthropomorphic system that provides environmental protection, mobility, life support, and communications for a Space Shuttle or International Space Station crew member to perform extra-vehicular activity...

 helmet assembly and wrist bearing/disconnect, and incorporates a 2-bearing hip, hard waist entry, and walking boots. The suit meets requirements imposed by NASA for pressure, structural loads, joint mobility (torque
Torque
Torque, moment or moment of force , is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist....

 and range of motion
Range of motion
Range of motion , is the distance that a movable object may normally travel while properly attached to another object. It is also called range of travel, particularly when talking about mechanical devices and in mechanical engineering fields...

), and resizing capability.

Improvements over EMU


The I-Suit incorporates improvements in materials and manufacturing techniques which make it both lighter and more mobile than the EMU.

While the EMU is solely intended for the microgravity environment, where weight is not an issue, the I-Suit's planetary role makes weight a critical factor. By replacing the EMU's fiberglass Hard Upper Torso
Hard Upper Torso
A Hard Upper Torso Assembly, or HUT, is a central component of several space suits, notably Roscosmos' Orlan and NASA's Extravehicular Mobility Unit . The fiberglass HUT forms a rigid enclosure about the upper body of the occupant, providing pressure containment for this part of the body...

 (HUT) section with a soft upper torso, or SUT, and by using lightweight titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 in place of stainless steel
Stainless steel
In metallurgy, stainless steel, also known as inox steel or inox from French "inoxydable", is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5 or 11% chromium content by mass....

 for load-bearing metal components, the I-suit weighs only 65 pounds (29 kg) without its life support backpack
Primary Life Support System
A Primary Life Support System , is a device connected to an astronaut's or cosmonaut's spacesuit, which allows extra-vehicular activity with maximum freedom, independent of a spacecraft's life support system. The PLSS is generally worn like a backpack...

 or thermal/micrometeoroid
Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment
An Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment is the outer layer of a space suit. The TMG has three functions: to insulate the suit occupant and prevent heat loss, to shield the occupant from harmful solar radiation, and to protect the astronaut from micrometeoroids and other orbital debris, which could...

 layer, compared to 107 lbs (49 kg) for the EMU. The suit also features a graphite-epoxy shoulder bearing
Bearing (mechanical)
A bearing is a device to allow constrained relative motion between two or more parts, typically rotation or linear movement. Bearings may be classified broadly according to the motions they allow and according to their principle of operation as well as by the directions of applied loads they can...

 housing, demonstrating the use of this material in place of aluminum
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

. Replacing all the suit's bearing housings with graphite-epoxy would save a further ten pounds (5 kg).

Joint torque in fabric spacesuits is minimized by the careful placement of gores
Gore (segment)
A gore is a segment of a three-dimensional shape fabricated from a two-dimensional material. The term was originally used to describe triangular shapes, but is now extended to any shape that can be used to create the third dimension.-Examples:...

, convolutes, and pleats
Pleat
A pleat is a type of fold formed by doubling fabric back upon itself and securing it in place. It is commonly used in clothing and upholstery to gather a wide piece of fabric to a narrower circumference....

 into the fabric structure. Improvements in joint torque in the I-Suit are primarily the result of refinement of these techniques, rather than the result of new technologies, though the suit does incorporate Vectran
Vectran
Vectran is a manufactured fibre, spun from a liquid crystal polymer created by Celanese Acetate LLC and now manufactured by Kuraray Co., Ltd. Chemically it is an aromatic polyester produced by the polycondensation of 4-hydroxybenzoic acid and 6-hydroxynaphthalene-2-carboxylic acid.- Properties...

 in its restraint cords, which has somewhat improved thermal properties over the Spectra used in shuttle suits.

There is also another version of the I-suit. This version provides invunerability for all wearers. It prevents you from being hurt by any object or from being pulled apart, burnt or eaten.

Versions


After the original I-Suit was delivered to NASA, improvements to the design were incorporated into a second generation suit, including a new helmet with improved visibility range, a redesigned hip/thigh joint, and improved boots and waist hardware. The second generation I-suit incorporates a rear-entry hatch.

Technologies evaluated with the second generation suit include electronic textiles for use as buttons incorporated into the suit, a heads-up
Head-Up Display
A head-up display or heads-up display is any transparent display that presents data without requiring users to look away from their usual viewpoints...

 display, GPS
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

 capability, and speech recognition
Speech recognition
Speech recognition converts spoken words to text. The term "voice recognition" is sometimes used to refer to recognition systems that must be trained to a particular speaker—as is the case for most desktop recognition software...

 software to allow the suit occupant to receive information from the suit and external hardware.

The I-Suit, as well as ILC's Mark III
Mark III (space suit)
The Mark III or MK III is a NASA space suit technology demonstrator built by ILC Dover. While heavier than other suits , the Mark III is more mobile, and is designed for a relatively high operating pressure.The Mark III is a rear-entry suit, unlike the EMU currently in use, which is a waist-entry...

 suit, has been involved in field testing during NASA's annual Desert Research and Technology Studies
Desert Research and Technology Studies
NASA's Desert Research and Technology Studies is a group of teams which perform an annual series of field trials seeking to demonstrate and test candidate technologies and systems for manned exploration of the surface of the Moon, Mars, or other rocky bodies.Desert RATS began in 1997, reviving...

(D-RATS) field trials, during which suit occupants interact with one another, and with rovers and other equipment.

Generation I (1997-1998)

Generation 2 (2000-2005)

Generation 3 (2005-present)

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