Hamilton-Sundstrand Mars Suit Concept

Photos from AIAA Space 2000 Conference - Long Beach, CA - Sept., 2000

This is a suit simulator (like MARS suit!) based on some Hamilton-Sundstrand internal R&D work on advanced pressure suit design. It's not designed for pressurization, but was used in the Summer of 2000 for field trials at Devon Island in northern Canada, simulating Mars geological operations. The first group of pictures are the ones I took at the AIAA conference; the other group is off of the Devon Island web site. The people manning the booth at AIAA weren't knowledgeable about the technical details of the suit, so the comments are my guesses/interpretations/best estimates of what's happening...


Front of the hard upper torso (HUT) and helmet. The right-side fittings go the the simulated life support system in the backpack.


Emergency helmet release mechanism - looks like you pull up the velcro tab, release the pip pin, and the helmet releases.


Frontal view of the suit. The blue stuff seems to be an overlaid thermal cover - I don't know why it's only on one leg.


Closeup of the HUT front left side. Looks to be quick disconnects for fluids in the center, some sort of control upper left, and the electrical connector lower left. (I felt like I was taking pictures all over the place - now I wish I had taken more, and more closeups!)


Clearly not a pressure suit glove - these appeared to be thick woven cotton gloves. If you check the field pictures below, these are probably just for display purposes.


Side view of the HUT. Like most modern suit designs, it uses a hemispherical helmet integral to the HUT. Comments from the field trials addressed the lack of visibility straight down due to the helmet angle and HUT - you'd like to be able to see where you're putting your feet!


I suspect the lower blob is a secondary life support system - it appears that only the upper, larger backpack is the primary life support system ,and is changed out from the accompanying rover.


My guess is that these are supposed to double as fluid tubing carrying oxygen (and water?) between the HUT and PLSS, and also is a mounting pivot to allow the unit to be swung forward for changing. It would still be awkward, and I suspect it couldn't be done without help.


Not much to add - that's a (fake) shuttle EMU in the background.


Side view from the right


I found this to be very interesting - a double helmet! You can see the inner hemisphere coming out from the inner edge of the helmet mounting ring, and the outer one attached to the outer circumference. A nice feature, particularly if you're in danger of falling forward onto rocks. (I suspect operationally the inner one would be the pressure-bearing helmet, and the outer one would be for abrasion and protection. This function was performed on Apollo by the external visor assembly, which you would need here, too, to accommodate changing lighting conditions.)


I guess this is supposed to be a bearing assembly in the upper leg. There don't seem to be any waist or hip bearings, so it's not clear what good this one will do.


Overview of the suit and rover - provides a size reference for the rover, anyway.



Closeup of the tubes running into the backpack. Since the cross-pipe blends into the two that come around and mate into the HUT, it's not clear that these are directly supposed to carry fluids, or if they might just be structure and protection with internal piping.


Upper arm assembly. There seems to be a skye (shoulder) bearing, and an upper arm bearing. There would have to be a pitch articulation between the two. A close examination reveals that the outer securing rings (with the bolt patterns) are rapid prototype outputs. Shoulders are one of the suit parts that are a heck of a lot easier if it's not really going to be pressurized.


Closeup of the upper leg bearing(?) - it looks to me like the extra bulk around the thighs would be deleterious to walking.


Devon Island - this is not a suit picture, but these ATVs are used for transportation, and are analogous to an astronaut support rover.


Suit donning station - appears to be based on a couple of stepladders.


The handle at top is to aid the wearer in ingress/egress. You can see the background through the bubble helmet here - this (and other pictures) leads me to believe that this backpack may hinge at the bottom, and the wearer slides down from the top. I can't really believe that (for those of us who are pullup-challenged, egress would be a killer), but I haven't seen anything showing a side hinge or a picture of an entry in progress.


Some shots of walking around at a geology site. Clearly, this is a challenge in normal clothes, and a real bear in a suit. (And much worse in a real pressurized suit!)


You can get an idea that shadows will make vision tough in a lot of areas.


Looks like fun, doesn't it?


Based on the pose of her head, you can see she's straining to see down at her feet. This is an interesitng problem in suit design!


Notice that the backpack support tubes are painted white, instead of the exposed metal in the AIAA display. There are also blue rings around the skye joint, and in fact it appears here that the arms are not actually connected to the HUT. The backpack is also different, and clearly empty - not surprising if you have to walk around on rocks in Earth gravity.


There are a number of pictures taken without the helmet. I wonder if they had some capability to circulate air around the helmet - from limited MARS suit experience, I can tell you that you could only stand having the helmet on a short time without some ventilation and cooling! (Of course, in northern Canada cooling might not have been as much of a problem...) Also, these appear to be real (or at least more realistic) suit gloves, as compared to the cotton gloves in the display.


You can see here that both arm bearings have the blue ring. I don't know if this is cosmetic, or indicative of a different design, or what. (It does look more like a real arm segment attachment to the suit in this picture.)


Using the ATV as a transport for the suited subject. JSC field trials indicate that this is a very important function for an EVA support rover. I really don't think you want to have to swing a leg over a saddle to sit down in the operational version.