PoSSUMs can swim! (Even in a space suit!)

It’s been a wonderful, exhausting and rewarding two weeks. After basic survival training, we dove straight into testing spacesuits in various water landing scenarios.

I discovered that the maneuvers needed to survive a water landing are varied, and a bit tricky - but especially when you factor in the spacesuit! Part of Project PoSSUM’s Bioastronautics Program tests the Final Frontier Design (FFD) spacesuits in different scenarios. I’ll share with you now a bit of what we did to test the spacesuits.

Parachute drop test

In the parachute drop test, you drop into the water, free yourself from the parachute, and climb into a life raft. Fairly straightforward. Until you factor in the spacesuit. Each of the nine person test team did the drop test providing valuable data for FFD on their suits. It is really difficult to do on your own in the water. Safety is key of course, so we had awesome safety divers from Survival Systems USA present to help!

Side Hatch Egress: Team Yorktown

For the side hatch egress (exit) tests the test crew was broken down into teams. I was on team Yorktown! The teams were named after rescue ships. The USS Yorktown was the Apollo 8 rescue ship. The other team was Team Hornet named for the USS Hornet which was the rescue ship for Apollo 11 and Apollo 12.

A scale replica of the Orion capsule in the four person crew configuration was used in the test. This was mounted so that we could board on the pool deck, be carried to the pool in the capsule, and lowered to a position to simulate the Stable 1 position. Stable 1 is the upright floating position of the capsule. Stable 2 is upside down and floating. In this test, we specifically focused on the Stable 1 position.

Each team did two runs with half of the crew in spacesuits. This allowed for multiple spacesuit operators to test the operational capabilities of the suit. Upon ‘splashdown’ we went out the side hatch and entered the life raft. It was definitely a whole lot easier with help. Here are pictures from Team Yorktown’s two side hatch scenarios.

Team Yorktown: Run 1

Team Yorktown: Run 2

Docking Hatch Egress

The final day we did docking hatch testing. Here are some images I took of the egress test!

Completed testing!

After days of testing we finally wrapped up.


Camera curtesy of @adastraaimee

Photography:  @adastraaimee & @kanemeganm