NASA is currently developing an xPLSS for the next generation xEMU which is planned to replace existing space suits used for the ISS. NASA has identified technology gaps in using the xPLSS for deep space and surface missions, specifically Mars missions due to the amine swing-bed system not being designed for the partial atmosphere of Mars. To bridge this technological gap and simplify future adoption, Air Squared successfully fabricated the novel Spinning Scroll Boost Compressor (SSBC) designed to meet NASAs specification pulling vacuums down to 0.1 torr and outlet pressures tolerance over 15.2 PSIA in Phase I. The SSBC is a compact and ultra-reliable boost compressor which can run at a wide range of operating conditions and doesn’t need to run at tens of thousands of RPM’s to achieve performance.
For Phase I, the primary technical objective was to run the SSBC as fast as possible in order to confirm the high speed capability of the SSBC and select the operating speed for the ground up prototype to be developed during Phase II. This objective was accomplished. For Phase II, Air Squared will develop an Alpha Prototype in year one and a Beta prototype in year two. The Alpha will demonstrate the operation of the SSBC in a simulated Martian environment while the Beta prototype will include design updates which more aggressively decrease size and weight and increase life.
The SSBC will define next-generation PSA for xPLSS xEMU in Mars and Deep Space exploration. Capable of operating over several different partial atmospheric environments in a compact footprint, the SSBC will provide flexible and reliable xPLSS design adaptable to varied NASA missions and provide a foundation for both Lunar Gateway habitation and human exploration of Mars. This will accelerate the SSBC’s adaptability for the ORION Spacecraft. The SSBC would fulfill a vital function of PLSS CO2 removal in advanced extravehicular activities.
Given the improved pressure and flow rate, adaptability as a compressor and vacuum pump, and reduced complexity of spinning scrolls, several positive displacement solutions would benefit from the development of the SSBC. Qualified spinning scroll machines would upgrade the performance of aerospace environmental control systems, vacuum mass spectrometry, and the commercial space industry.