US 3363266 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Jan. 16, 1968 c. .1. SWET 3,363,266
MEANS FOR INCREASING SPACE SUIT MOBILITY Filed Oct. 13, 1965 FIG..Z.
CHARLES J. SWET I NVENTOR ATTORNEY United States Patent F 3,363,266 MEANS FOR INCREASING SPACE SUIT MOBILITY Charles J. Swet, Mount Airy, Md., assignor to the United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy Filed Oct. 13, 1965, Ser. No. 495,737 7 Claims. (Ci. 2-2.1)
ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLGSURE The present invention relates to means for facilitating the flexure of a portion of an internally pressurized suit by the movements of a wearer of the suit. More specifically, the invention includes an internally pressurized suit having at least one interior wall defining a chamber with in said suit. The chamber is sealed from the remainder of the suit by the wall and is provided with an external vent to the surrounding atmosphere. The chamber is sup plied with pressurized air from an air supply tube connecting the interior of the chamber with the interior of the remainder of the suit. A valve is provided in the air supply tube, which valve is actuated by the wearer of the suit in order to shut oi the air supply and simultaneously open the external vent, thereby relieving the internal pressure of said chamber. The suit area surrounding the pressure relieved chamber is thereby rendered limp and readily flexible by movement of the wearer of the suit. The internal pressure in the chamber is restored by actuation of the valve to reopen the air supply tube and close the vent to the surrounding atmosphere.
The present invention generally relates to a space suit which can be made flexible to allow freedom of movement. More specifically, the present invention relates to a space suit having internal pressure chambers which can be selectively evacuated to allow movement of the wearer.
A space suit, even when constructed of a flexible material, allows but restricted movements of the wearer. The presence of a relatively high pressure diiferential along the cross-section of the suit causes various sections of the suit to assume stitf tubular configurations. Certain movements of the wearer have a tendency to flex or bend the suit, and accordingly stiffness in the suit material is not desirable. The present invention provides a means for relieving the pressure differential across the suit to allow the wearer unrestrained mobility in the performance of dexterous operations while in an upper atmosphere environment. To this end the suit is divided into chambers. Each chamber can be selectively isolated and the internal pressure of the chamber allowed to escape to the ambient atmosphere. The suit area around the chamber then collapses and becomes readily flexible to allow free movement of the wearer. An attendant advantage of the present invention is that the need for specialized couplings or joints placed to allow freedom of move ment by the wearer is eliminated. An added advantage of the present invention is that the suit can be constructed in one piece and the problem of pressure leaks at seams and joints is thus minimized.
It is thus an object of this invention to facilitate flexing of a space suit by removing or reducing pressure differentials at specific joints without impairing the primary functions of the suit.
Another object of this invention is to provide a space suit which allows a wearer to have freedom of movement without a need for couplings or joints in the suit.
A further object of this invention is to provide a means for selectively relieving the pressure diiferential across 3,363,266 Patented Jan. 16, 15368 sections of a space suit to thereby increase its flexibility.
A still further object of this invention is to provide a means whereby the wearer of a space suit can relieve the internal pressure from a portion of said suit to permit unrestricted movement of his limbs.
A still further object of this invention is to provide a means whereby a wearer of a space suit can have full mobility and dexterity of his hands without the presence of a cumbersome internally pressurized glove.
Other objects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will be readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a front elevation, partly in section, illustrating a space suit having a sleeve with a chamber which can be evacuated for increased mobility of the wearers arm therein; and
FIG. 2 is an enlarged detail section, partly in elevation, showing a sleeve of a space suit and illustrating the attendant parts that allow a chamber therein to be evacuated.
With reference to the drawing in greater detail, a pressurized suit is shown generally at it An arm 12 of a wearer is enclosed within a limb portion such as the arm section 14. The wearers hand is enclosed within a pressurized glove 15. The arm section 14 has a chamber -16 therein which is separated from the remaining internal upper arm section 17 of the arm section 14 by a toroidal seal 18. The toroidal seal 18 forms a pressure-tight wall between the chamber 16 and the upper arm section 17, and has an elongated sleeve 20 which loosely encircles the upper arm 22 of the wearer. Pressurized air is communicable through the elongated sleeve 20 into the chamber 16. The toroidal seal 18 and the elongated sleeve 20 can be suitably constructed of a stretchable material such as rubberized fabric for the purposes of accommodating diiierent arm sizes and for engaging the arm 22 of the wearer in order to seal relatively pressure-tight the chamber 16, in a manner to be hereinafter explained.
The presence of pressurized air creates a pressure differential across the outer Wall of the glove 15. When a task requiring'full manipulation of the fingers is required, the wearer must relieve the internal pressure within the glove -15. The pressure difierential is then reduced to an amount which does not unduly constrict the movements of the wearers fingers.
In the present invention, a commercially available type of plug valve is used to relieve the internal pressure from the glove 15. A plug valve is comprised of a housing having a plurality of external ports. The ports can be made communicable with each other by aligning the passageway within a plug located within the housing. In FIG. 2, such a plug valve is shown at 24 and is communicable with the chamber 16 by a rubber hose 26. It is also communicable with the upper arm section 17 by a rubber hose 28, and with the ambient atmosphere environment through a rubber hose 36. A plug 32, forming a part of the plug valve 24, has a curved port 36 therein. The position of the plug 32, shown in FIG. 2, permits pressurized air to be communicated from the upper arm section 17 into the hose 28, through the curved port 36, through the hose 26, and into the chamber 16. When the wearer desires full dexterity of his fingers, he will manually actuate a lever 38 to align the curved port 35 with the hoses 26 and 30. This position of the curved port is shown in dotted lines at at}. In this position pressurized air is retained within the upper arm section 17. Pressurized air is, however, permitted to flow from the chamber 16 into the hose 26, through the curved port 36, through the hose 30, and into the ambient atmosphere environment through comprising the elongated sleeve20 causing it to be compressed tightly about the wearers arm, thereby sealing relatively pressure-tight the chamber 16 from the remainder of the suit 10.
The lessened pressure in the chamber 16 relieves the pressure differential along the cross-section of the outer wall of the chamber 16, allowing it to be easily flexed by the wearers movements. In the embodiment shown, a task requiring full dexterity of the hand can be accomplished. The wearer additionally has full mobility and dexterity of his hand and fingers, since the internal pressure of the glove 15, as well as of the chamber 16, is selectively relieved by actuation of the plug valve 24 by the wearer, in
' a manner previously described.
The presence of a near vacuum within the chamber 16 and the glove would subject the wearer to undesirable physiological effects such as blood boiling or blistering of the skin. Thus, it is required that the chamber be evacuated sufiiciently to relieve the pressure difierential along the cross-section of the outer wall of the chamber 16; but not to the extent that the wearer would be subjected to the presence of a near vacuum. An existing air leakage through the elongated sleeve 20 permits the pressure within the chamber 16 and the glove 15 to be maintained at a minimum value. In addition, it was found that a back pressure valve set to retain a pressure differential of 0.5 lb./in. adequately safeguards against the above-mentioned dangers yet allows free manipulation of the wearers fingers despite the retention of a slight pressure differential. Thus the back pressure valve 42 is provided on the hose 30 to control and otherwise maintain a pressure difierential of 0.5 lb./in. between the ambient atmosphere environment and the chamber 16.
When a task requiring full dexterity of the fingers is completed, the valve 24 is closed for connecting the hoses 26 and 28, so that the pressure of the chamber 16 may be returned to normal. 1
As the pressure is restored, the elongated sleeve 20 loosens from about thewearers arm. Discomfort to the wearer is minimized by the relatively large surface area of the elongated sleeve 26 in contact with the Wearers arm. However, periodic restoration of the pressure within the chamber 16 is required to loosen the sleeve 20 from about the arm 12 of the wearer and thus insure that the wearers arm has proper blood circulation after performance of a time consuming task. A timed mechanism for periodic restoration of the pressure may be employed, but,
' by experiment, it was found that the wearer was subjected to no danger if he is permitted to manually control the valve 24 when he has sensations of discomfort resulting from prolonged restriction by the sleeve 20.
In practice, the present invention would be used on all of the arm, wrist, and limb portions of the suit and any number of chambers would be provided, as needed.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in the light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that witlnn the scope of the appended claims the invention may be.
practiced otherwise than as specifically described.
What is claimed is:
1. In an internally pressurized suit having,
an internally pressurized limb portion adapted to'receive a limb of a wear of the suit,
said limb portion having means for defining a chamber therein, and
valve means on said limb portion for admitting pressurized air from said limb portion to said chamber, said valve means being actuable to permit a decrease in pressure within said chamber to allow fiexure of said limb portion; said first-mentioned means including a sleeve of compressible material for receiving a portion of a wearers limb therethrough, said sleeve being compressible about the wearers limb in response to the decrease in pressure for sealing relatively pressure-tight said chamber from the remainder of said pressurized suit.
2. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein,
said first-mentioned means further includes a toroidal member attached to said sleeve and to said limb portion for forming a pressure-tight wall between said chamber and the remainder of said pressurized suit, said member being adapted to receive therethrough the limb of a wearer of said suit.
3. The suit of claim 2, and additionally including,
means operatively connected to said valve means for maintaining a minimum pressure within said cham ber.
4. The suit as defined in claim 3, including addition ally,
means for actuating said valve means to permit restoration of pressurized air in said chamber when fiexure of said limb portion is completed. 5. The suit as defined in claim 1, and further including, means operatively connected to said valve means for maintaining a minimum pressure within said chamber, and means for actuating said valve means to permit restoration of pressure in said chamber when said limb portion is unflexed. j 6. The suit defined in claim 5, wherein said first-mentioned means comprises a check valve.
7. The structure as recited in claim 2, wherein said toroidal member is made of a stretchable material;
References Cited FOREIGN PATENTS 3/1960 Great Britain. 7/1961 Great Britain.