The Space Suit Boot Binding System for Surface Missions supports the next generation space suit. The crew dons a snug fitting Inner Boot, and slides it through the xPGS Leg Assembly toward the attached Outer Boot. Two spring loaded pins integrated into the Inner Boot Sole Plate (IBSP), inboard of the crew’s toes, mate with receiving bushings on the Outer Boot Sole Plate (OBSP). The crew presses down, compressing the OBSP heal plate until an Outer Boot spring-loaded latch firmly captures the Inner Boot. The binding system prohibits the crew’s foot from slipping but does not prohibit the toes or ankles from flexing at all.
The joined sole plates act as a spring system balancing an appropriate torsional stiffness needed translate rugged terrain with bending flex needed to walk and kneel easily. The toe pins and heal plate allow the Inner Boot to be fully captured while allowing the plates limited independence from each other. This aids in the sole plates spring system performance and enables different sections to expand and contract to different temperatures and coefficients of thermal expansion without restriction. The design includes limited thermal conductive contact between the crew and the surface. Due to their minimal contact area they act to prohibit heat flow to and from the crew, greatly mitigating risks to the crew caused by the extreme temperature range of the planetary surface.
To doff the outer boot, the crew pulls a cord to disengage the heal catch and frees the Inner Boot from the Outer Boot. The crew then slides their foot back out through the leg assembly. Any hardware associated with the binding system on the Inner Boot is very low profile and has all edges softened to prohibit any snagging during don/doff activities. This system is also very customizable for crews of different sizes and spring system stiffness preference.
The Lunar exploration market includes the U.S., E.U. countries, Russia and China and further extended by six different companies involved in NextSTEP Gateway Habitat and exploration advances by SpaceX. The integrated binding system could be marketed to these entities, enhancing suited crew exploration and an opportunity to use a derivation of this design to enhance life within the space ships and habitats. The crew uses Toe Bars to offsetting microgravity challenges, which has resulted in foot injury. This system could mitigate this crew risk.
Using the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at JSC to emulate experience in a microgravity environment, a crew member in a Space Suit is very similar to a diver within a diving suit. Deep sea divers often translate across cold, rugged surfaces for considerable periods. This system offers recreational, commercial and military divers the same no-slip translation with their feet being thermally isolated.