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Flexible, MMOD- and Puncture-Resistant Shear Thickening Fluid/Textile Composites for EVA Suits University of Delaware/NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center, Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate

Backside view of bladder cloth in lay-ups containing Neoprene-coated nylon (top), STF-treated Kevlar® 1025 (middle), and STF-treated Kevlar® 1148 (bottom) as an active Layer.

Prof. Norman J. Wagner, Science PI, University of Delaware



Richard W. Russell, NASA Technical Monitor, Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA EPSCoR Stimuli 2014 -15

Astronauts are exposed to potential micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) threats during extravehicular activities. Puncture damage to space suits may also arise from other physical hazards such as tools, sharp edges on handrails or surface elements. Backup suits and gloves can be used to support missions in near-Earth space, but such redundancy and increased mass is not practical for longer missions or deeper explorations. Flexible, lightweight, multi-threat protective materials are needed to provide the durability and protection that will be required in future space suits. This includes adding both puncture resistance and MMOD resistance, as well as self-healing functionality. The former is provided by incorporation of the recently commercialized STF-Armor™ nanocomposite textile developed by the University of Delaware and the US Army Research Laboratory that has proven to be a highly effective protective puncture and ballistic resistant material in soft body armor applications. NASA funded research in our laboratory has the goal of developing STF-Armor™ specifically tailored for application in EVA suits. Furthermore selfhealing materials under development at UD also have tremendous potential to further improve astronaut survivability should the TMG be compromised. Ground-based UD research on advanced nanocomposite materials for astronaut and spacecraft protection, conducted under a current NASA EPSCoR award, proved the concept that high strength-to-weight textiles impregnated with shear thickening fluids (STF) can improve the micrometeoroid and orbital

debris (MMOD) and enhanced puncture resistance for the thermal micrometeoroid garment (TMG) of extra-vehicular activity (EVA) suits. Further research on self-healing materials based on the reversible additionfragmentation transfer (RAFT) mechanism is further proposed as a means to repair damage and restore pressure bladder integrity should the TMG be compromised. Based on the success of this groundbased research, the UD research team has been selected for an ISS experiment. In this experiment we propose to evaluate the stability and efficacy of advanced TMG suit lay-ups containing advanced nanocomposite textiles and self-healing materials in the extreme thermal, vacuum, atomic oxygen and radiation environment of low-earth orbit (LEO). The proposed material testing using the Materials on the International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) test station planned for the ISS is aimed at advancing the technology readiness level (TRL) of MMOD-resistant and self-healing materials developed and tested on Earth. Proof-of-concept and prototype testing (TRL 3 to 4) has been performed on MMOD-resistant STFtextiles in the full EVA suit lay-ups using hypervelocity testing at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and most currently, at White Sands Test Facility with the assistance of the NASA Johnson Space Flight Center’s Hypervelocity Impact Technology (HVIT) Group.

EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15  

NASA Office of Education’s Aerospace Research & Career Development (ARCD) is pleased to release NASA EPSCoR Stimuli, a collection of univers...

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