Sketches, by Dr. Cameron M. Smith, of Restraint Layers of Pressure Garments Mark I, II, III and IV; Marks I-III are described below. Note reduction of bulk and number of through-fittings between Mark I and Mark III. The Mark IV garment was built in three months in 2015, based on years of experience with earlier models, and will be described later.
Between 2009 and 2013 Dr. Smith and the Pacific Spaceflight team designed and tested a proof-of-concept pressure suit rated to fly to 50,000 feet. After many successful tests, including underwater leak-detection, skydiving stability tests, and altitude chamber tests, we are confident of the essential design, which delivers breathing gas, maintains appropriate pressure, and regulates the pilot’s temperature. You can read a bit about these suits below.
UPDATE: you can see two of our suits, and hear about their design, building and testing, by clicking here to see our 2015 TEDx Portland presentation!
The Mark I suit (the Tsiolkovski) was the first complete build that allowed life support and maintained sufficient pressure through pressurized that lasted over an hour. This suit was used in capsule integration and altitude chamber tests with Copenhagen Suborbitals in Denmark, in summer 2013. The garment was sufficient for many tasks, but suffered from being heavy, complex and somewhat immobilizing at high pressures.
By February 2014 the Mark II suit (the Gagarin) was fabricated, including refurbished gloves, improved coolant garment features, incorporation of a combined temperature and humidity indicator and, most importantly, convolute, ‘constant volume’ elbows that significantly increase elbow mobility at high suit pressures. The suit’s coverall was also improved and integration with an inflatable life vest was tested.
Above: Dr. Smith wearing the Mark II suit with convolute elbow section providing significantly greater suit mobility at high pressures. Summer 2014
As of September 2014 the Mark III suit (no model name) is being designed and fabricated; this model will be radically lighter in weight and cheaper than the Mark I and II models, featuring 3d-printed gas fittings, low-profile convolute joints, a small, low-profile suit pressure gauge and simple C02 monitoring.
Above: A. Magruder testing out the new lighter weight convolutes. April 2015.
Our newest suit, built in 2015, is the Mark IV (model Zaphod), which is lighter, simpler and less expensive than prior models, and gives us much better mobility at high suit pressures. We’ll be releasing more photos and videos of this suit in 2015 – 2016. For the moment, you can get a glimpse at the end of our 2015 TEDx Portland talk! Below: close-up of a Mark IV suit glove, Summer 2015.