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EVA Pod Diagram by William-Black EVA Pod Diagram by William-Black
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EVA Pod Manned Autonomous Work System

Artwork featured: on Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rockets site, Space Suits and Tugs page, under Space Pod.

Concept art for a one-man EVA work pod designed for my Orion's Arm future history setting. The work pod is designed for extended EVA operations. Pilot operator would enter and exit the EVA pod in the shirt-sleeves environment of a pressurized dock. The pod maintains 101.3 kPa pressurization negating the need for pre-breathing and allowing immediate use under emergency conditions.

A space pod is a small pressurized vehicle with one or more waldoes or mechanical arms. They are often used for space construction and maintenance. In the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey, they were referred to as "EVA pods." In Wernher von Braun and Disney's Man In Space series, they were called "bottle suits." They are also known as "closed-cabin cherry picker", "manned autonomous work system", and the ever popular "man-in-a-can." One of their main advantages over a soft space suit is that they solve the depressurization problem.

— from Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rockets site.

As RocketCat sez Soft space suits are only terribly encumbering, like wearing three snow suits at once. This is their advantage. Disadvantages include the fact they can be punctured by a pair of kindergarten safety scissors, causing certain death. Oh, and they can only use low pressure because high pressure will make the suit spread-eagle you like a Saint Andrew's Cross. Low pressure means you have to do a few hours of pre-breathing or the suit will kill you with The Bends. Which is a problem if an emergency strikes and you don't have a few hours.

The work pod is designed to be housed in a shirt-sleeves environment hanger, it and the hanger in which it would be housed is pressurized to 101.3 kPa, which is the standard for NASA habitat modules. The operator would be able to enter and exit the pod in a pressurized environment eliminating the need to pre-breathe pure oxygen or acclimate to a low pressure space suit environment.

NASA’s current Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suits are semi-rigid low-pressure suits with an operating pressure of 4.3 psi (29.6 kPa). NASA EVA suits must operate at a low pressure, because too high a suit pressure and the accordion joints will become immobile and the operator will be unable to accomplish the required work. Donning current EVA suits requires the operator to pre-breathe pure oxygen to acclimate to the suit environment or risk a fatal case of the bends.

Not only does the work pod streamline EVA procedure, an important feature in large scale deep space or orbital construction work where crews prepping for EVA may be quite large, but being fully hard shell the work pod protects the EVA crew better against risk of puncture or tears which would kill a man in a soft suit in 90 seconds flat.

A contemporary design is The FlexCraft: A proposed EVA vehicle inspired in part by the EVA pod from 2001 that has some advantages over spacesuit EVAs, and is based on existing technologies like MMU propulsion. PDF Link: here.

—H/T Lilith von Fraumench.

In the System States Era of my future history large scale orbital infrastructure has been built in place around moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and around Mars as well.

Building industrial space platforms, along with the orbital propellant and volatiles depots required for a large scale industrial in-space economy, with populations in the millions living in large scale space colonies such as the Stanford Torus space colony here and Bernal Sphere space colony here requires integrated human and robotic systems, such as mass manufactured  EVA pods to carry out the work of construction and maintenance. (Sold in lots of a thousand or more – because every construction worker will need one of these on the job, that’s the scale of economy I am talking about.)

As example of the type of in space construction projects the work pod is designed for see the paragraph above for links to my Stanford torus space colony, and my Bernal Sphere colony. See links below for PDF documents on NASA’s SPS program, related SPS artwork, and NASA’s Space Settlements Design Study.

NASA Technical Memorandum 58238 Satellite Power System: Concept Development and Evaluation Program Volume VI1 -Space Transportation, PDF Link: here.

The SPS program envisioned construction of solar power satellites, generally compared in size to Manhattan Island, to be assembled  in sections in low Earth orbit, the sections then lofted out to geosynchronous orbit and there linked together. The SPS program was envisioned in the late 1970’s with construction infrastructure in place in the 1990’s.

SPS LEO Construction Base, courtesy Aerospace Projects Review blog, Link: here.

The artwork shows one of the SPS LEO construction bases. The size of the hanger is astonishing and the entire construction platform enormous. The base would be used to construct components of solar power satellites, which would then be slowly boosted to geosynchronous using electric propulsion. Even though the base would be dwarfed by the SPS itself, the base was monumental in scale compared to any other manned space facility proposed before or since.

SPS construction artist’s concept: An artists rendering of a solar power satellite under construction, courtesy Aerospace Projects Review blog. Link: here.        

Components assembled in LEO would be joined together at geosynchronous orbit.

Rockwell SPS construction artwork: Another piece of artwork depicting the construction of a solar power satellite, courtesy Aerospace Projects Review blog. Link: here.

This design features a “trough” design. Instead of a vast flat plain covered in PV arrays, this design had a central strip of PV cells between two walls of very reflective and very lightweight mylar (or a similar reflective foil). Thus the same total amount of sunlight would be directed to PV cells. Since PV cells generally work slightly better at higher illumination levels, in theory this type of PV array should generate more power for the same frontal area.

Shown slightly to the right of center is the aimable microwave emitter used to beam the energy to a receiving station on Earth.

NASA SP-413 Space Settlements, A Design Study, PDF Link: here.

NASA SP-413, “Space Settlements, A Design Study,” was published in 1977 and brought together the results of a 1975 NASA-Ames Research Center effort to do a preliminary study of a giant torus space station for several thousand permanent inhabitants.

Related Art:

Dione, Daybreak
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