Broadcast 3366 Ted Southern

30 Aug 2019 Ted Southern
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Guest:  Ted Southern; Topics: Spacesuits in detail for all types of missions.  Spacesuit engineering, costs, technology, mass, life support, and challenges.

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We welcomed back to the show after a nearly five year "holiday" Ted Southern of Final Frontier Design, maker of commercial spacesuits and components.  During our one segment seventy-six minute discussion, Ted not only talked in detail about what his company has been and is currently doing with spacesuits and technology, plus he talked about spacesuits in general, their capabilities, problems, costs, engineering, and challenges.  We also discussed the known plans for the private sector companies planning some form of human spaceflight where they would or should use a spacesuit.

We started our discussion with Ted providing us with updates on his company, Final Frontier Design, with news about their glove development from the 2009-2010 period plus NASA contracts and SBIR awards during the past recent years. He also talked at length about both the IVA launch and reentry suits plus the EVA suit and suit life support. We spent a good portion of time on these subjects, then on the next generation spacesuit, the XMU suit. Currently the EMU suit is in use with NASA.  Part of this conversation focused in on the two big spacesuit companies, David Clark and ILC Dover.  Part of this conversation included the need for spacesuits above specific altitudes, the risks of going with an all pressurized cabin and no spacesuit for the participants, and vehicle construction for today with can include a double hull for added pressurization protection.

Listeners asked several questions. For example, can a lunar suit easily evolve to being used on Mars.  In an emergency where you crash back on Earth with a launch failure, can you quickly and safely exit the vehicle and crash seen wearing a spacesuit or do you have to first rapidly get out of it.  Ted discussed the thermal outer garment construction on some suits as that was a listener question as well.  One point Ted made was that the pressurization of the suit made it difficult and exhausting to work in it.  He talked about being able to reduce spacesuit pressure to 3.5 PSI to make it easier to work in but noted the partial pressure of O2 on Earth is about 15 PSI.  The more pressure inside the suit, the more difficult it is to work in the suit, to stay cool, and to have extensive life support resources.  He said the pressure in the gloves was a key factor to being able to do work with your hands while wearing a pressurized spacesuit glove. 

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spacesuit design & engineering with Final Frontier Design

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