Liquid connectors for the Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garments (LCVG) within the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) suffer from mechanical defects including leaking after long durations, latching mechanism deficiencies, and un-optimized size and mass. Mainstream aims to solve all of these issues for the primary thermal loop connector (PTLC) and auxiliary thermal loop connector (ATLC). In Phase I, Mainstream replaced the liquid sealing mechanism to eliminate the cold-flow driven leakage that the PTLC and ATLC currently experience. In Phase II, Mainstream will develop improved PTLC and ATLC connectors for use on the xEMU prior to 2024. We will integrate the liquid sealing mechanism as a drop-in replacement to the PTLC and redesign the ATLC. After long duration testing for pressure drop, leakage, and cyclic behavior, Mainstream will deliver 5 production-intent PTLCs and ATLCs to NASA for qualification testing.
Mainstream’s primary goal is to develop an improved LCVG connector that eliminates the cold flow-derived liquid leakage that develops over long durations expected on future Moon and Mars missions. It has been stated in the Artemis Plan that “on the [moon] surface [in 2024], the crew will wear the new exploration extravehicular mobility unit or xEMU spacesuit”. Therefore, Mainstream is focusing primarily on improved connector components that can serve as drop-in replacements because the xEMU suit architecture is already selected.
The developed connector is highly specialized for the xEMU liquid connectors. Because the interface is unique to NASA, the non-NASA commercial applications are very limited.