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MEMP - Thesis Defense - Conor R. Cullinane

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 -- 2:30pm

MIT 3-133

​Evaluation of the Mark III Spacesuit
An Experimental and Computational Modeling Approach

The overall goal of this research was to investigate three research questions to address gaps in the field of spacesuit assembly (SSA) evaluations: [1] What are the mobility and agility limitations causing operators to experience performance decrements when wearing a SSA?; [2] What is causing operators to experience increased joint torques?; and [3] How does the distributed weight of an SSA effect performance? This research leveraged both experimental and computational modeling capabilities to evaluate SSAs with a human-centered focus, in ways previously unachievable.
The space suit evaluated for this research was NASA’s Mark III (MkIII) Planetary Technology Demonstrator SSA. The MkIII SSA was built as a technology demonstrator for the development of the next generation in planetary exploration capabilities, improving upon Apollo era technology.
An initial investigation, combining a pilot study and supporting modeling, revealed shortfalls in the current human-SSA system that may limit the operator’s mobility/stability and agility: the SSA degrees of freedom (DOFs), the SSA range of motion (ROM) envelope, the bearing resistances, the SSA component’s inertial effects, the SSA mass load transfer dynamics, and suit fit. The SSA architecture was then modeled to isolate components that contribute to the measured operator performance degradations and quantify the extent of their contributions. Isolating the components was only achievable through modeling, but was previously unachievable through other modeling tools. These investigations lead to suggestions for design requirements and evaluation techniques that can guide future SSA development and evaluations.

Thesis Supervisor:
Leia Stirling, PhD
Assistant Professor, Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Associate Faculty, IMES, MIT

Thesis Committee Chair:
Laurence Young, ScD 
Apollo Program Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, IMES, MIT
Thesis Readers:
Allison Anderson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, University of Colorado
Dennis E. Anderson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, HMS



Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 2:30pm to 4:30pm

MIT 3-133