The Portable Life Support System (PLSS) on the Advanced Space Suit will carry consumable cooling water maintained at ambient pressure within an array of soft-walled, flexible reservoirs known collectively as the Feedwater Supply Assembly (FSA). The FSA system is charged to a high pressure and slowly drains of water making up for cooling system evaporation during the course of an EVA. The system is required to cycle between a full state and an empty state many times with possibly long periods of time between uses delivering clean water to the cooling system. The existing FSA bladder design does not meet these needs. The design includes multiple regions where folds and stress concentrations lead to structural failures over time. Creare’s solution incorporates novel geometric design and advanced materials to remedy these failure modes and provide high cycle life, long shelf life, and clean cooling system makeup water. In Phase I, Creare plans to demonstrate key aspects of the design in a subscale prototype system. In Phase II, Creare plans to produce a full-scale prototype and develop plans to integrate the prototype into the existing xPLSS.
The FSA bladder system to be developed here offers a robust alternative to storing cooling water in the PLSS. Reducing the dry component volume and mass mean more volume devoted to cooling water, extending EVA mission duration. The robust, lightweight design could also be employed in other high reliability components like drinking water supplies. Future life support applications like hydroponics and aquaculture requiring water and other liquid feed supplies could also benefit from this lightweight, robust liquid storage technology.
Man-portable hydration systems and personal liquid fuel supply benefit from lightweight, robust bladders by reducing carry load. UAVs could utilize the lightweight, robust fuel bladders to reduce airframe mass, boosting power-to-weight ratio and flight duration. Flexible bladders also could offer compliance in the event of a structural failure where a rigid container would otherwise fail.