July 15-19, 2012
Extravehicular activity (EVA) is one of the most critical enabling capabilities for human spaceflight. Performing EVA is both technically challenging and physically demanding, requiring many hours of training and detailed preparation. As a result of working and training in the extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) spacesuit, many astronauts sustain musculoskeletal and minor injuries. Although injuries are typically minor and self-limited, they have the potential to impact mission success. We outline our research methodology to investigate EVA injury ultimately providing solutions that can be implemented both in the EMU and in future spacesuit designs. We review the issues and mechanisms causing injury as documented in the literature. The result of this work will be an injury database with input from many NASA stakeholders. We also highlight our work to model the astronaut performing realistic EVA motions to study the interaction between the person and the suit. Spacesuit models of the EMU and Mark III spacesuits will be used in combination with a human body model driven by the biomechanics of EVA motions. We will investigate joint torque, muscle activation, and contact pressure between the body and suit. This modeling effort informs our spacesuit injury countermeasure designs and recommendations. We present our design process for protection devices that ameliorate current astronaut suit-induced injuries.