Orbital Outfitters, Inc. (OO), the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) of the Texas A&M University System, and Dittmar Associates, Inc (DA), have been selected as a team to develop new concepts for a â€œsoft shoulderâ€ for NASA’s new Constellation space suit that is to support future missions to the International Space Station and beyond. These missions include the return of humans to the Moon and potentially to Mars.
â€œThis is an excellent opportunity for NASA and OO as this area of technology is precisely where OO has been devoting its primary efforts for the last two yearsâ€, said Jeff Feige, CEO. â€œOur goal is to provide our clients in the newly emerging sub-orbital commercial space travel industry with comfortable yet safe suits for their crews and customers. There are common needs between this industry and NASA and this collaboration provides a strong linkage between the two.â€
The NASA Johnson Space Center issued a Request for Quotation as Delivery Order 40 under the Crew, Robotics, and Vehicle Engineering (CRAVE) Program on July 1, 2008. The primary stated objective was to â€œdevelop a shoulder mobility joint without a Scye bearing.â€ Successful removal of the Scye bearing (used in present suit designs) greatly reduces the potential for shoulder and other injuries under operations that become off nominal during launch and landing. Selection of the OO/TEES/DA team was announced on August 19. The team will collaborate in establishing new concepts for detailed evaluation. For concepts selected, OO will develop and fabricate test units for test and analysis.
OO’s internal team includes noted designer Chris Gilman, program manager Dennis Gilliam, and Peter Homer (winner of NASA’s $200,000 space suit glove prize).
OO first made news last year with the development of the world’s first space suit for use in the emerging commercial space travel industry. The suit, known as the IS3 (Industrial Sub-Orbital Space Suit), was developed specifically for the pilots and crew of these new vehicles. The first suits are scheduled for delivery to XCOR Aerospace of Mojave, CA for use in their initial sub-orbital flight tests. OO has a rapidly developing client base for work on space and non-space projects based on their expertise in survival and life support systems.