CONTEST #9170187



Test Methods for Assessing Damage to Space Suit Textiles



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The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) seeks proposals for test methods or procedures to assess wear/damage to candidate space suit textile materials.


As we move forward with human exploration, the function of the environmental protection garment will need to expand to include different pressure and temperature regimes as well mitigating the effects of working in the dust/dirt of planetary environments such as the moon, Mars, or large asteroids. However, the dirt and dust environment on the Moon and Mars is not the same as on Earth. The lack of commonality between the environments means that standard assessment tools for assessing the ‘goodness’ of a design solution with respect to minimizing dirt/dust caused abrasion and particle migration do not exist. We need to develop assessment tools that will work for these environments and can be validated against soft-goods that were exposed during the Apollo Program and on the Mars landers.







Space suits are multilayer garments that protect humans from the harsh environments encountered during space exploration. In general, the functions of the space suit layers can be divided into three functional areas: pressure retention (bladder), structural/load carrying (restraint), and environmental hazard protection (currently the thermal micrometeoroid garment (TMG)).  The current TMG is about 1/16” in thickness, contains layers of ortho-fabric (a blend of Gortex®, Kevlar®, and Nomex® materials), aluminized Mylar, and neoprene-coated nylon. 


Future space suits are being developed for extra-terrestrial exploration beyond low-earth orbit, which will require expanding environmental hazard protection to encompass planetary environments such as those on the moon, Mars, and large asteroids. A major consideration in these environments is the lack of commonality of the dirt and dust environment and those on Earth. A result of these differences is that there is not a standard assessment technique for determining the wear performance of newly developed environmental protection garment (EPG) designs vs current and past TMG designs.




Total prize pool of US$15,000 available in the form of three (3) US$5,000 prizes.

NASA will recognize prize winners through published announcements and individual profile stories. Successful applicants may also have the opportunity for future collaboration with NASA.


Acceptance of prize grants NASA with an unlimited royalty-free license to use winning methodologies.











There is currently not a good repeatable/standard test methodology for assessing candidate EPG textile layups with respect to wear during use in planetary exploration. Results from testing should indicate size and quantity of particles that migrate through the different layers of the EPG and catalog/quantify any degradation of the layers (cuts, abrasion, color changes, reduction in tear or tensile strength, reduction in thermal insulation). The proposed methodology may include a series of tests to be performed in a specified order.


The successful technology or procedure will:

  • Provide a textile layup abrasion method capable of being performed with lunar or Martian regolith simulants such as JSC 1a or JSC MARS-1.
    • This method should be able to replicate the type of fiber degradation made to the A7LB space suit after exposure to lunar dirt/dust. (See Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) data of Apollo 12 suits on pages 139-155 here.)
  • Indicate the size and quantity of particles that migrate through the different layers of the EPG.
  • Provide a clearly defined method to catalog and quantify degradation of the layers including: cuts, abrasion, color changes, reduction in tear or tensile strength, reduction in thermal insulation.
  • Have a correlation between separate administrations of the test of 0.7 or higher.
  • Have an absolute difference between two repeated test results that lies within a probability of 95%.

And preferably will:

  • Require no more than an hour to complete the test and/or run autonomously
  • Not require specific textile expertise to execute the testing or interpret the results


Please see the following literature detailing NASA’s efforts in this area:




Pam Semanik 


Paul Musille, PhD
Program Manager,



Welcome to NASA's Textile Test Methods Challenge. Questions? Feel free to post a thread for the community or send me an email.






Pam Semanik 


Lindsay Aitchison

Space Suit Engineer

NASA Johnson Space Center



Dana Valish 


Dana Valish

EC5 Space Suit & Crew Survival Systems

NASA Johnson Space Center