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Ted Southern, Tuesday, 12-23-14 December 24, 2014

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Ted Southern, Tuesday, 12-23-14


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Guest:  Ted Southern.  Topics:  Commercial IVA space suits & SAA agreement between NASA & Final Frontier Design (FFD).  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed Ted Southern, President & co-founder of FFD to talk about his company, IVA space suit design and their newly awarded NASA SAA for space suit development.  During the first segment of our 1 hr 44 minute program, I asked Ted how he went from a classical musical background and education to designing and making space suits.  Ted told us an interesting story regarding his evolution to space suits including professional costume making.  I’m sure you will enjoy his personal and company history.  Ted then talked about space suit gloves, the various astronaut glove competitions and why the glove is extremely critical and complex.  As you will hear, there is a constant push to advance the design and capability of the space suit glove.  We talked about the importance of mobility for space suits.  A current NASA IVA suit runs about $250K while the EVA suit might cost as much as $12 million each!  FFD is working to lower the cost & improve the mobility of the IVA (intra-vehicular activity suit) launch and re-entry space suit for orbital space flight.  Listeners asked many email questions including questions about materials, air consumption, helmets, heat, cooling and more.  We also talked about 3D printing for replacement parts while on orbit.  Toward the end of the segment, we talked about space tourism suits, the size of the potential market & why Ted has focused more on the commercial orbital market.

In the second segment, Ted was asked about advances in the face plate and the helmet.  Ted then spoke to issues of both a soft helmet and the hard shell helmet.  Don’t miss this interesting discussion.  Penny asked him about an emergency wearing the space suit and how easy it would be to get out of it and if one can run away from a downed spacecraft wearing a space suit.  Ted mentioned the weight of the suit, compared it to other suits, and then spoke to the challenges of getting out of the suit in a hurry.  Robert sent in a question inquiring about the mechanical counter pressure suit that Dava Newman at MIT has been working on (Dr. Newman addressed this on TSS in January 2014).  I then asked Ted about self-repairing space suits the way we now have self-repairing tires.  Ted explained why the tire technology does not work for a space suit plus they don’t have self-repairing materials for a space suit.  Joe inquired about using a heads up display in the helmet.  Before I took a call, I asked Ted about the pressure in a fire hose and how that differed from a space suit.  We talked some about fire hose usage based on my old Navy firefighting training.  Stay tuned to hear the pressure in a fire hose which is many many times greater than the pressure used in a space suit. Doug called to inquire about space suit fashion and putting FFD suits in a fashion show.  Doug and Ted talked about space suit colors and 3D printing for insitu repair. As the program was ending, Ted told us about his company’s Space Suit Experience for $400 and an advanced reservation.  You get to try on and wear a space suit.  Note the discussion about size issues for being able to wear a space suit.  Ted brought up the issue of high blood pressure being better for high G acceleration. Don’t miss this and his other final comments.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach Ted Southern through is website, http://www.finalfrontierdesign.com or me.



1. Andy Hill - December 30, 2014

Are the joints on the spacesuit normally always bearings or could they use something like a compressible O ring, something similar to a child’s inflatable swimming aid.

I was thinking that having a stack of hollow rubber rings filled with a fluid of some sort at the elbow/knee bends in a suit would give more mobility, compressing one side of the stack would inflate the other side, allowing the joint to bend. Not fully filling the rings would allow the excess material to give a greater range of movement and not require as much stretching.

Not sure what materials would be suitable for use in space to produce something like this but I would have thought that it would have been less susceptible to wear than a bearing and be cheaper to produce.

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