Seeking to Improve Human
Performance on Space Vehicles
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Institute of Technology and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University have announced a year-long collaboration on research involving spaceflight with the goal of improving human performance inside spacecraft.
The joint effort involves Florida Tech’s Human Spaceflight Lab, or HSF, directed by Ondrej Doule, and Embry-Riddle’s S.U.I.T. (Spacesuit Utilization of Innovative Technology) Lab, and its principal investigator, Ryan Kobrick.
Both labs were founded in 2017 around the need for governmental and commercial research into human spaceflight, and both are directly related to the rapidly evolving space industry. Doule’s lab focuses on spaceship cabin and cockpit system architecture, human system integration, planetary outpost architecture and related simulators design, and Kobrick’s focuses on spacesuit development, performance assessment, human physiology, spacesuit systems design and related operations.
“With the commercial space industry at the beginning stages of operation, we believe this collaborative effort allows for faster research and development of many components critical to the success of human spaceflight,” Doule said.
“I think it’s great we have two universities that bookend the Space Coast region working on human spaceflight together,” Kobrick added.
Their labs’ respective hardware currently complements each other, as well. The S.U.I.T. Lab is equipped with an optical motion tracking system, while the HSF Lab includes a high-fidelity spacesuit trainer and related operational equipment.
Because both labs perform research on spacesuit operations, usability and safety, Kobrick and Doule realized collaboration would be beneficial to both programs.
The shared research is developed around Doule’s topic focused on understanding human performance inside a spaceship’s cabin or cockpit and a need for definition of motion and performance boundary conditions, known as envelopes, using the Florida Tech-owned Final Frontier Design spacesuit.
The spacesuit environment presents a number of physical ergonomic constraints that the researchers are trying to identify. Because the university’s spacesuit is size adjustable, they can study how suit performance changes when it is in different size configurations.
Once all data has been gathered that relates to the spacesuit’s unpressurized and pressurized configurations and motion patterns, it will be shared with industry designers so they can determine the best placement of critical control and display systems.