Status Report

NASA Solicitation: New Generation Extravehicular Activity Glove

By SpaceRef Editor
June 6, 2012
Filed under , , ,

Synopsis – Jun 06, 2012

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNJ12ZBH005L
Posted Date: Jun 06, 2012
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Jun 06, 2012
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Jun 29, 2012
Current Response Date: Jun 29, 2012
Classification Code: A — Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston Texas, 77058-3696, Mail Code: BH

Description

NASA/JSC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources to identify new materials, technologies, and manufacturing approaches that could enable development of a new generation extravehicular activity (EVA) glove, with enhanced mobility performance, durability, injury prevention, manufacturability, and/or capability above that of the currently flown Phase VI EVA glove.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) is seeking capability statements from all interested parties, including Small, Small Disadvantaged (SDB), 8(a), Woman-owned (WOSB), Veteran Owned (VOSB), Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SD-VOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) businesses, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)/Minority Institutions (MI) for the purposes of determining the appropriate level of competition and/or small business subcontracting goals for New Generation Extravehicular activity (EVA) glove. The Government reserves the right to consider a Small, 8(a), Woman-owned (WOSB), Service Disabled Veteran (SD-VOSB), or HUBZone business set-aside based on responses hereto.

No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation is released it will be synopsized in FedBizOpps and on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service. It is the potential offeror’s responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of any solicitation or synopsis.

Description:

NASA has identified several glove technology development research areas that it wishes to explore as part of this effort. While emphasis in the responses should address the identified research areas, alternative concepts, technologies, or approaches may also be suggested by the responder to more efficiently meet the primary EVA glove design functions and EVA glove design considerations below.

Primary EVA glove design functions include the following:

* Retain gas (Minimize leakage and withstand pressure and man loads)

* Provide mobility (Reduce torque, reduce mass, increase range of motion, improve fit/sizing)

* Provide tactility (Improve tactile perception by the wearer)

* Provide thermal protection against ambient environment posed during an EVA

* Provide thermal conditioning to optimize crew comfort

* Protect from cut/puncture/abrasion

* Prevent intrusion of foreign object debris(FOD) such as dust

* Limit microbial contamination and growth

* Prevent injury during use

Primary EVA glove design considerations include the following:

* Reduced manufacturing costs

* Reduced logistical overhead

* Decreased complexity for in-field repair

* Seamless integration of avionics hardware and interfaces

Background and Project Motivation:

The current flight EVA glove design, Phase VI, represents the current state of the art in fully functioning EVA gloves that operate at 4.3 psid in the low-Earth orbit environment. The glove assembly is composed of three primary sub-assemblies: the bladder/restraint layer, the combination wrist disconnect and bearing, and the thermal micrometeoroid garment (TMG). The bladder layer provides the gas retention function and uses convolutes molded into the fingers and wrists to provide basic mobility. The bladder is well integrated to the restraint fabric at several locations to help the materials move easily and consistently together.

The restraint fabric is designed to take all structural loads – both pressure and wearer induced. The restraint fabric is specifically patterned to allow mobility through the knuckles, carpometacarpal (CMC) joints, and wrist. Additional hard elements are mounted to the restraint layer in the palm to prevent ballooning in the area and provide a hard break point for the CMC joints to reduce hand fatigue; the wrist gimbal rings decrease the torque required for wrist flexion/extension and radial/ulnar flexion. The glove bladders are custom dipped for specific crewmembers but each finger and thumb length can be adjusted by pulling in or letting out the sizing cords that run along the outside seam of the restraint layer for each finger for a range of 0.5 inches.

The specific bladder/restraint materials and their primary functions are as follows:

* Bladder: Dipped Rucothane Urethane w/ cotton flocking (Glove – gas retention, moisture control); T-162 Teflon Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) liner (Wrist – gas retention, abrasion protection)

* Restraint: 3 oz. Dacron polyester (Glove/Gauntlet – to carry loads and hold shape)

o Upper and lower gimbal rings: Stainless steel – (isolates wrist flexion/extension from adduction/abduction)

o Palmbar: Stainless steel – (prevents “ballooning” of palm area)

o Palm plate: Composite – (prevents “ballooning” of palm area)

The TMG sub-assembly provides environmental protection for the bladder/restraint and wrist disconnect/bearing sub-assemblies. The TMG is integrated to the restraint fabric at each finger and thumb with the gauntlet extended loosely over the cuff of the space suit lower arm. The palm-side of the glove is more ruggedized to prevent cuts/punctures/abrasions as astronauts interact with surfaces on the International Space Station that could potentially contain sharp edges created by micrometeoroid strikes. The TMG is designed for a specific size glove but cannot be resized in the same manner as the restraint layer. The outer layers and thermal protection layers are stitched together in such a way to minimize intrusion of FOD and limit the thermal shorts caused by the stitching. The number and types of layers in the TMG varies with location on the glove. Small resistive heaters are attached directly to the tips of the fingers and wires run to the back of the hand to increase thermal comfort when working in cold conditions. The thumb and forefinger locations have been specially reinforced with Turtleskin(R) to protect from cuts following an on-orbit incident at the cost of increased torque and reduced mobility.

The specific TMG materials and their primary functions are as follows:

* TMG:

o Back of Hand and Gauntlet Outer layer: T-162 Teflon PTFE cloth (Glove finger back/Gauntlet)- For abrasion protection

o Front of Hand Outer Layer: Molded Knit Vectran (Palm); room temperature vulcanizing (RTV) silicone pads (Palm); dipped RTV (Fingertips) – For abrasion protection and grip

o Gauntlet Inside Layer: Kevlar/Nomex/Gore-tex Weave (aka Orthofabric) -For abrasion protection

o Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI): 5x Aluminized Mylar polyester film reinforced with Dacron polyester scrim (Gauntlet); 3x Unreinforced Aluminized Mylar polyester film with non-woven Dacron layered spacers (Glove) – For thermal and micrometeoroid protection

The wrist disconnect/bearing assembly is made from stainless steel and is flange mounted to the bladder/restraint layers with an aluminum clamping ring. It provides wrist pronation/supination with minimal torque. The glove wrist disconnect/bearing is the hard linkage to the spacesuit lower arm disconnect which captures the glove component using spring-loaded locking dogs. Dual lip seals within the wrist bearing limit gas leakage from the glove assembly and provide failure redundancy.

An additional ‘comfort’ glove is worn next to the skin primarily to aid moisture management within the glove. Without the wicking comfort glove, hands are prone to sticking to the bladder and causing the bladder fingers to invert back into the palm area when the glove is doffed – a time consuming issue to correct. The comfort glove also provides some protection from chaffing against the hard pressurized interior glove surfaces and minimal padding. The comfort gloves come in five sizes (XS – XL) and three thicknesses that are selected on user preference.

When pressurized to 4.3 psid and used with the TMG, the Phase VI EVA gloves provide approximately 20% of barehanded range of motion, and approximately 20% of barehanded grasp strength. Furthermore, the force required to operate a glove, coupled with the humid environment and hand fit inside the glove contribute to hand injuries reported by the crew. An additional performance limitation of the Phase VI is that although it has been certified for 25 EVAs of use, the TMG on a flight glove is usually replaced after 5-8 EVAs of use due to higher than expected abrasive wear.

Given the aforementioned performance limitations, the High Performance EVA Glove (HPEG) Technology Development Project aims to address pressurized glove performance, hand injury reduction, and durability.

Specific goals for the HPEG Project include:

Increasing range of motion and/or grasp strength from ~20% to 60% when used at 4.3 psid with all layers combined

Increasing durability of the TMG to support more than 10 EVAs of use in both low-earth orbit (LEO) and planetary environments

Reducing hand injury potential for both single and cumulative use concerns

Other goals for EVA glove improvement will be explored in the HPEG Project based on merit, feasibility and cost.

To meet these goals, any and all enhancements to EVA glove design functions and EVA glove design considerations will be weighed as part of a comprehensive improvement effort. While the current Phase VI EVA glove is not severely lacking in any one particular area, the modest improvement of several of the EVA glove design functions and/or considerations is expected to vastly improve gloved mobility, durability and injury potential.

The HPEG Technology Development Project is currently scheduled to be two years in duration and will involve the awarding of competitive contracts. Although the purpose of these contracts will be to build glove components and subcomponents based in part on information received in this RFI, NASA is under no obligation to issue a solicitation or to award any contract on the basis of this RFI.

Glove Technology Development Research Areas:

The goal of this RFI is to identify key technologies, new materials, and new manufacturing techniques that can improve on this design. NASA has already developed a list of glove technology development research areas it would like to explore as part of this effort. These research areas of varied approach and technology readiness levels (TRLs) include:

* Self-healing bladders

* Upgrade traditional bladder with improved material with increased flexibility but maintain strength properties

* Reduce scrap rate of the bladder during fabrication

* Improve abrasion resistance of the bladder caused by other components of the glove or intrusion of FOD

* Dual-purpose layers (e.g.,anti-microbial/structure, hold shape/retain gas, etc.)

* Replace current glove disconnect with lower-mass options (e.g., ceramics, plastics, metallics, composites) while still meeting existing design requirements for pressure loading, man loading, and oxygen and vacuum compatibility

* Shape-changing materials for finger sizing (length/circumference)

* Dynamic shape change materials that optimize fit and performance for specific tasks

* Re-pattern restraint layer without changing materials to increase mobility, durability, and comfort

* Re-pattern TMG without changing materials to increase mobility, durability, and ease of installation

* Upgrade comfort glove with improved material or design to address moisture management, skin abrasion, and/or microbial growth

* Upgrade traditional restraint with improved material without major re-patterning to increase mobility, durability, and/or comfort

* Upgrade traditional TMG layers with improved materials without major re-patterning to increase mobility and durability

* Replace heat sealing with laser sealing or other new technique

* Seamless finger knitting

* Replace pinch seams in the finger with less bulky seams

* Optimize fingertip layup for increased tactility

* Incorporate haptic feedback for tactility

* Incorporate E-textiles for fabric-based displays or controls

* Incorporate E-textiles for heart rate or temperature sensing

* Replace traditional multi-layer insulation with Aerogel

* E-textiles for carrying/generating power for glove heater

* Integrate piezoelectrics to power glove heater

* Integrate heating elements into existing layer

* New approach or materials for thermal protection of the glove

* Employ disposable cover layer for use in dust/dirt environments

* New approach or materials for protecting the glove against dust/dirt (e.g., bearing penetration, bladder and restraint abrasion)

* Mitigating fingernail delamination

* Moisture-wicking materials for comfort glove

* Anti-microbial materials/coatings/treatments for comfort glove

* Anti-microbial material for bladder

* Reduce manufacturing costs

* Improve physiological interface between glove and hand

Responses to this RFI should include the following:

* Availability of, or new research regarding, a material or process specifically listed in the above glove technology development research areas that would be feasible for incorporation into a flight glove within the next 5 years

* Availability of, or new research regarding, a material or process not specifically mentioned in the above glove technology development research areas, but may serve to efficiently meet one or more of the overarching EVA glove design functions or considerations and would be feasible for incorporation into a flight glove within the next 5 years

* Availability of, or new research regarding, any material, technology, or fabrication technique, the application of which the respondent considers could meet one or more of the overarching EVA glove design functions or considerations, and would be feasible for incorporation into a flight glove within the next 5 years

* New emerging, low TRL materials, technologies or fabrication techniques that may not yet be feasible for application into a flight EVA glove in the next 5 years, but should be tracked and/or developed for future design iterations

To Initiate an RFI Response:

This RFI is open to responses from all commercial entities, international organizations, academia, NASA Centers and other government agencies. Responses must be submitted electronically via email as a PDF attachment.

Responses must be submitted electronically, via email, as a single .PDF file for each response. Each responder may respond to any or all aspects of this RFI as listed above. Each individual response to this RFI is limited to 4 pages. If a responder is submitting information regarding more than one technology, material, concept, approach, or manufacturing technique, a separate submission (email) for each item is required. Interested respondents should submit a response package as described here:

Each RFI response shall include a cover sheet with the following information:

1. RFI Solicitation Number and Title

2. Responding Company/Organization (including address,POC and phone number)

3. A brief synopsis of the RFI response in less than 20 words

4. The EVA glove design function/consideration or specific glove technology development research area your response is addressing

Each RFI response shall include a capability statement of 4 pages or less indicating response to the items listed below:

1. Address ONE of the following:

o Availability of, or new research regarding, a material or process specifically listed in the above glove technology development research areas that would be feasible for incorporation into a flight glove within the next 5 years.

o Availability of, or new research regarding, a material or process not specifically mentioned in the above glove technology development research areas, but may serve to efficiently meet one or more of the overarching EVA glove design functions or considerations and would be feasible for incorporation into a flight glove within the next 5 years.

o Availability of, or new research regarding, any material, technology, or fabrication technique, the application of which the respondent considers could meet one or more of the overarching EVA glove design functions or considerations, and would be feasible for incorporation into a flight glove within the next 5 years.

o New emerging, low TRL materials, technologies or fabrication techniques that may not yet be feasible for application into a flight EVA glove in the next 5 years, but should be tracked and/or developed for future design iterations.

2. The availability of the company/organization for a site visit during the week of July 9, 2012 to discuss your response.

3. Should NASA wish to pursue the technology your response entails, any objections to specific contractual arrangements regarding such.

Interested offerors/vendors having the required specialized capabilities to meet the above requirement should submit a capability statement of 4 pages or less indicating the ability to perform all aspects of the effort described herein. The attachment must be sent as a single .PDF file for each response. Each responder may respond to any or all aspects of this RFI as listed above. If a responder is submitting information regarding more than one technology, material, concept, approach, or manufacturing technique, a separate RFI response (email) for each item is required.

Responses must also include the following: name and address of firm, size of business; average annual revenue for past 3 years and number of employees; ownership; whether they are large, or any category of small business, number of years in business; affiliate information: parent company, joint venture partners, potential teaming partners, prime contractor (if potential sub) or subcontractors (if potential prime); list of customers covering the past five years (highlight relevant work performed, contract numbers, contract type, dollar value of each procurement; and point of contact – address and phone number). This RFI is used solely for information planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation. In accordance with FAR 15.201(e), responses to this RFI are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. The Government is under no obligation to issue a solicitation or to award any contract on the basis of this RFI. The information provided in responses to this RFI will not be made public in an effort to protect any propriety company information. Nonetheless, respondents should clearly and properly mark any propriety or restricted data contained within its submission so it can be identified and protected. Respondents are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. Responses to this RFI will not be returned, and respondents will not be notified of the result of the review.

Please advise if the requirement is considered to be a commercial or commercial-type product. A commercial item is defined in FAR 2.101.

This synopsis is for information and planning purposes and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government nor will the Government pay for information solicited. Respondents will not be notified of the results of the evaluation. Respondents deemed fully qualified will be considered in any resultant solicitation for the requirement.

All responses shall be submitted via email to Lindsay Aitchison at [email protected] no later than 5:00pm local time June 29, 2012. Please reference NNJ12ZBH005L in any response. Any referenced notes may be viewed at the following URLs linked below.

Further Reading for Consideration:

Benson, E. et al. Use of Traditional and Novel Methods to Evaluate the Influence of an EVA Glove on Hand Performance. JSC-CN-20142, 2010.

Graziosi, D., Stein, J., Ross, A. and Kosmo, J. Phase VI Advanced EVA Glove Development and Certification for the International Space Station. SAE 2001-01-2163. 2001.

McMann, H. and Thomas, K. US Spacesuits. Springer Press, 2006.

Mitchell, K. Phase VI Glove Durability Testing. JSC-CN-23266, 2011.

Ryan, S et al. Hypervelocity Impacts on ISS Handrails and Evaluation of Alternative Materials to Prevent Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Glove Damage During EVA. JSC-17548, 2009.

Ryan, S et al. Mitigation of EMU Glove Cut Hazard by MMOD Impact Craters on Exposed International Space Station Handrails. NASA/TM-2009-214783, 2009.

Thompson, S et al. The Effects of Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Glove Pressure on Tactility. JSC-CN-20034, 2010.

Point of Contact

Name: Ashley E. Harral
Title: Contract Specialist
Phone: 281-792-7979
Fax: 281-244-5331
Email: [email protected]

Name: Stacy G. Houston
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 281-483-9649
Fax: 281-483-7890
Email: [email protected]

SpaceRef staff editor.