Featured Article From the Vault

Understanding Skill in EVA Mass Handling:
Integrated Methodology for Evaluating Space Suit Mobility and Stability

P. Vernon McDonald, Gary E. Riccio, & Dava Newman

In four volumes between 1997 and 1999, NASA Technical Paper 3684 describes the activities performed in the completion of work funded under the NASA Research Announcement 93-OLMSA-07. The project, entitled "Environmental Constraints on Postural and Manual Control" was a 3-year project designed to promote a better understanding of the whole-body skill of extravehicular activity (EVA) mass handling.

The final report in the series, Volume IV, provides a summary of the work performed with a particular emphasis on the operational implications of the phenomena observed in our empirical investigation. The report is worth revisiting because NASA again is seriously considering human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit, including missions to the Moon, Asteroids, and Mars.

In the sixteen years since its publication, there have been a diversity of developments that are auspicious for the kind of work described in this volume. NASA has gained considerable experience with human health and performance in weightlessness in support of the International Space Station. Biometrics and personalized health monitoring is moving into the mainstream of many industry verticals and transforming them through the convergence of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC). Cost, form factor, computational power, and availability of technology for  sensing and analytics are accelerating opportunities for the kinds of human-systems assessments described in this volume.

Moreover, exigencies of the Global War on Terror have resulted in leaps ahead in capabilities integration and development. There have been many lessons learned about how to utilize a diversity of methodologies concurrently and over nested time scales in continuous development of a system of systems including wearable computing and electronics. The multi-faceted approach described in this volume can build on these lessons learned. Finally, in the years since this NASA Technical Paper, Dava Newman has transformed our notions of what a space suit can be and, as a result, what is possible for human performance in space.

View the original Volume IV