Human accommodations requirements will eventually dictate the necessity of simple, safe, routine, robust, ergonomic, and effective means for a broad variety of human accommodations clean-up activities in a broad variety of spacecraft. A low-g wet/dry vacuum provides one such solution. If such a low-g accommodating device could be delivered to NASA with the quality, durability, and performance of terrestrial vacuums, a significant contribution could be made in that the device might have significantly broader impact value to the crew.
In this Phase I research we propose to develop a cross-cutting ‘vacuum’ device for clean-up activities in space and more. We intend to exploit recent advances in low-gravity liquid-solid-gas transport and separation systems to develop a multiphase vacuum for spacecraft capable of a cross-cutting variety of tasks, from the mundane to the mission critical. Our solution is a 3-phase omni-gravitational vacuum cleaner. Our breadboard design approach will employ a current commercial chassis but replace the body with a novel capillary fluidic element that exploits recent advances in passive low-g phase separation technologies where geometry, wetting, and surface tension forces are harnessed providing a no-moving-parts solution to the liquid, particulate, and bubble separation.
We will provide test data from the proof-of-concept study, with projections for system size, mass, power draw, and crew time for use and maintenance. Our report will detail the path toward a high- or even flight-fidelity prototype delivered to NASA in Phase II, after or during which proof of concept demonstrations could take place aboard the ISS for highest TRL.
A low-g wet/dry vacuum provides simple, safe, routine, robust, ergonomic, and effective means for a broad variety of human accommodations clean-up activities in a broad variety of spacecraft. Applications for NASA may include routine dry, wet, and wet/dry clean-up, spot laundering, bio-sample collection, stubborn particulates such as lunar dust, hygiene liquids, and others.
The device is expected to have commercial applications for human spaceflight, including private spaceflight operations, and serve as a multipurpose device for low-gravity and partial gravity environments. The enabling technology may also be applied to a variety of applications with certain components enhancing terrestrial systems.