Through the NASA SUITS program and MSGC funding, five members of the CLAWS (Compact Localized Augmented WorkStation) team from the University of Michigan traveled to Johnson Space Center in April 2019 to test a spacesuit interface that utilizes the Hololens User Interface (UI). The team had spent five months designing the UI, working through several iterations of the concept and performing a Preliminary Design Review with NASA before the approach was finalized. The trip to NASA in Houston, Texas capped off the months that students had invested in virtual reality with a game-changing week interfacing with NASA in living color.
The semester before the trip to NASA Johnson Space Center was spent engineeering the UI – a multistage process. The early review with NASA factored into determination of the most important features of the spacesuit interface – access to vital signs, information about the status of the suit, and the ability to see the next tasks the astronaut needs to perform. After establishing the priorities for the UI, CLAWS developed the software to perform the desired actions. The team preliminarily tested their design by working with other UM staff, such as Dr. Jim Bagian, a former astronaut. This helped the students further understand what is important to an astronaut and what is of less value.
During their time at Johnson Space Center, the students worked with NASA’s technical staff to test their system along with eleven other teams. The team was able to showcase their design to Extravehicular Activities (EVA) trainers and mission controllers. EVAs are also affectionately known as spacewalks. The feedback from these experts will help drive further development of the UI system at UM this coming year. CLAWS also valued the chance to present their design to industry professionals who were invited by NASA to visit.
The stellar experience has given the team insight into how NASA performs development and testing of a human spaceflight system. They also gained real-life experience through their use of cutting edge technology, participation in design reviews, and preparation of multiple reports.
More about the photo: NASA SUITS student members from the University of Michigan – Sahil Farishta, Cesar Mu, Rupal Nigam, Emily Rassel, and Riley Schnee – participating in the design challenge. PHOTO DATE: April 18, 2019. LOCATION: Building 9, Area between POGO and PABF. PHOTOGRAPHER: Josh Valcarcel