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Students to Conduct Post-Landing Testing of Prototype Spacesuits with Project PoSSUM

The tests this April will evaluate prototype spacesuit technologies in spacecraft egress and sea survival situations using a full-scale mockup of NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

Two students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who are also Project PoSSUM graduates will serve as test subjects for the first post-landing, or splashdown, tests of a commercial spacesuit developed by Final Frontier Design of Brooklyn, N.Y. The tests will be held at Survival Systems USA in Groton, Conn., this April and are an essential step toward certifying the spacesuit for flight.

The physical tests and analysis of the third generation intra-vehicular activity spacesuits (3G IVA) will involve the use of a full-scale fiberglass and aluminum mockup of NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The post-landing tests will evaluate various spacesuit technologies including a life preserver unit, neck dams, parachute harnesses, egress systems and an emergency breathing apparatus, with the model spacecraft in the water in right-side-up and upside-down configurations.

For the 3G IVA tests, Embry-Riddle graduate student Heidi Hammerstein and undergraduate mechanical engineering student Amy Ramos will join eight other citizen scientist-astronaut candidates who have received an intensive educational and physical training program through Project PoSSUM, including completion of PoSSUM’s Spacecraft Egress and Rescue Operations (SERO) course. This training was introduced in April 2016 as a collaborative effort between Survival Systems USA and Project PoSSUM to educate students on the landing and post-landing phase of crewed space missions. The upcoming PoSSUM post-landing test and training protocols have been developed by former NASA astronaut instructors and is similar to the experience NASA astronauts receive.

“Outside of government space agencies, there is no spaceflight-focused emergency operations training available to researchers, academia or civil spaceflight operators,” said PoSSUM’s Astronautics Training Director Ken Trujillo. “The courses, tests and hardware we are developing will hopefully build an industry database and lead to improved systems, operations and safety to all involved in the civil space industry.”

PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization that conducts NASA-supported upper-atmospheric and space technology research and communicates the science through various educational outreach programs.

In addition to qualifying the technology, the spacesuit tests will validate training procedures that would later be used to qualify PoSSUM graduates to use the suit for flights in excess of 50,000 feet in high-altitude aircraft, a mission the team hopes to accomplish later this year.

“I am honored to be a part of a team working toward revolutionizing the space industry,” said Ramos. “Our intensive training and late nights studying always seem to pay off during missions. The pressure gets real when testing spacesuits in simulated spacecraft, but I have never felt more excited for a mission.”

The next PoSSUM citizen-science programs will be held at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., from March 31 to April 4. Interested individuals should apply online at www.projectpossum.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Dr. Jason Reimuller, Executive Director, Project PoSSUM Inc.; Office: (720) 352-3227; jason.reimuller@projectpossum.org

James Roddey, Director of Communications, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla.; (386) 226-6198; james.roddey@erau.edu.


ABOUT PROJECT POSSUM
Project PoSSUM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization using citizen-science astronautics to enable novel measurements of our mesosphere, the most sensitive region of global climate, while inspiring and educating the public on the critical roles this region plays in the overall understanding of our global climate through immersive educational programs. Project PoSSUM is administered by a team of scientists and much of the training takes place at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. To learn more about Project PoSSUM, visit www.projectpossum.org.

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ABOUT EMBRY-RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s largest, oldest and most comprehensive institution specializing in aviation, aerospace, engineering and related degree programs. A fully accredited university, Embry-Riddle is also a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. A nonprofit, independent institution, Embry-Riddle offers more than 100 associate, baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. The university educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through its Worldwide Campus with more than 135 locations in the United States, Europe and Asia, and through online programs. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.