BIO 103: Microgravity Space Suit Evaluation

BIO 103: Microgravity Space Suit Evaluation

BIO 103 provides a foundation in the microgravity environment, microgravity research campaign planning and operations, human factors and spacesuit evaluation research, biomedical monitoring systems, science communication and public outreach. Students will evaluate prototype seat concepts, suit/seat interface, the umbilical interface, and ingress and egress procedures.



Reduced gravity aircraft provide up to 25 seconds of the near freefall (microgravity) environment. Space agencies and commercial space companies rely on parabolic flight campaigns to perform microgravity experiments and to advance the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of payloads before launching them into space. Project PoSSUM is advancing the TRL of its payloads in flight campaigns provided by the National Research Council of Canada in a modified Falcon-20 aircraft.

In this course, students will learn about Space Physical and Life Sciences experiments suitable for testing in parabolic flights. They will also learn the processes researchers must follow in order to perform their experiments aboard reduced gravity aircraft. A critical element leading up to the flight date is specifying the procedures for the payload operation, integration, testing and certification in a document called the Test Equipment Data Package (TEDP). The course will also describe the Interface Control Documentation that researchers must consult to ensure that their payloads will properly integrate into an aircraft’s mechanical and electrical systems. Students will also learn about the Internal Review Board and ethics review that must be done for experiments involving humans and other living organisms.

Lectures and Assignments:
The course will consist of nine one-hour webinars and seven assignments. Assignment will receive either a Pass or Fail grade. Each assignment will build upon each other to ultimately produce a student’s completed TEDP; by the end of the course, students will have completed a TEDP for an experiment of their choice. Students should be prepared to spend four to five hours per assignment. The expectation is that each student work on their own TEDP, though students are encouraged to solicit feedback and help from their peers; webinars 7 and 8 will provide students with an opportunity to present their experiment idea and TEDP, and to get feedback from the class.


Webinar 1

Introduction to microgravity platforms:

  • Learn about space science and why experiments are conducted in microgravity
  • Learn how to select the appropriate microgravity platform based on the experiment

History of parabolic flights:

  • Learn about the parabolic aircraft used by NASA, ESA, and CSA and what aircraft modifications are needed to convert a commercial aircraft into a microgravity research laboratory.
  • Learn about trade-offs and fine-tuning a parabola for best microgravity quality or the longest duration
  • Overview of NASA, CSA and ESA parabolic flight programs and funding sources
  • Technology Readiness Levels (Part 1)
  • Description of the logistics of planning a flight campaign and the certification process
  • Introduction to the Test Equipment Data Package (TEDP) requirements document

Assignment 1: review past TEDPs from PoSSUM, CAN-RGX, CSA, NASA, or ESA

Webinar 2

• Description of how a TEDP is used in the payload integration and certification process
• Description of the Interface Control Document (ICD)
• Discussion of the format of a TEDP (Part A):

  • Experiment overview (target audience)
  • Identifying campaign objectives
  • Experiment description

Equipment description
o Quick reference sheet
o Re-flying a previous experiment
o Flight plan and flight procedures (Part I)
o Ground support requirements

Assignment 2: Start a draft TEDP by proposing an experiment: describe the purpose of the experiment, scientific objectives, and rationale for reduced gravity testing. You do not need to provide details of how the experiment will be built or performed, only the justification of why the experiment should be conducted. What type of payload will it be (educational, science, technology)? Cite literature to show that the proposed experiment is unique and useful.

Webinar 3

Technology Readiness Levels (Part 2)

Discussion of the format of a TEDP (Part B):

  • Flight plan and flight procedures (Part II)
  • Ground support requirements
  • Cabin requirements
  • Project PoSSUM flight campaigns (Part a)
  • Space suit evaluations (FFD)
  • Biomonitoring (FFD, NRC, CSA)
  • Internal Review Board (IRB) / Research Ethics Board (REB) review process

Assignment 3: Continue writing the TEDP: describe the experiment hardware and how the experiment
should be operated, describe how the experiment will be performed; provide complete details of the
ground and in-flight procedures.

Webinar 4

Discussion of the format of a TEDP (Part C):

  • Hazard analysis and mitigation
  • Structural and electrical load analysis
  • Payload transport logistics

Assignment 4: Continue writing the TEDP: complete a mechanical load analysis and provide a method of
verifying the calculations “in the real world”, complete a hazard analysis by addressing at least 4 hazards
for key components of the reduced gravity testing of your experiment

Webinar 5:

  • Project PoSSUM flight campaigns (Part b)
  • Solid Body Rotation Experiment (UMES, MIT)
  • Fluid Configuration Experiment (UT, MIT)
  • Internal Review Board (IRB) / Research Ethics Board (REB) review process (Ted, Heather)

Assignment 5: Continue writing the TEDP: describe the procedure for mounting and integrating your
experiment into the aircraft. Describe all power requirements and all cabin requirements.

Webinar 6

  • Lunar and Martian gravity
  • G-jitter effects
  • Description of the 2019 flight campaign

Assignment 6: Finalize the TEDP by including a discussion of the tolerances of your experiment to the
effects of g-jitter and negative-g’s. Provide a description of the experimental controls, and ground
testing that will be done. What are the potential next steps for the payload (e.g. fly to station)?

Webinar 7 & 8

  • Student presentations of their experimental ideas and TEDP
  • Students should prepare a presentation of their TEDP with schematics, photos, or videos of their proposed payload.
  • The class should be prepared to ask questions and provide feedback to each presenter.

Assignment 7: Completed TEDP is due July 28, 2020, giving us a window of 4 weeks to potentially have
selected TEDPs and experiments approved for flight.

Webinar 9

Briefing with details related to the September 2020 NRC Flight Campaign

  • Logistics Review
  • Flight Roster
  • List of experiments and research objectives
  • Ground and Flight crew roles assigned


Flight Campaign:
Students in the course will apply their knowledge and skills learned in the webinars in a parabolic flight campaign with Integrated Spaceflight Services and the National Research Council of Canada. The flight campaign will take place (tentative dates) September 28th to October 2nd 2020 (inclusive) at the NRC Flight Research Lab (FRL) located in Ottawa, Canada. The address is 1920 Research Private, Ottawa, ON K1V 1J8, Canada and is suited within walking distance of the Ottawa International Airport. Students should plan to arrive at 8AM each day. A typical day will end by 6PM. Students should plan to stay until 6PM on the last day of the campaign. Additional details of the flight campaign will be provided in the webinars.

Students will need to provide the following information one month prior to the flight campaign:
• Full legal Name
• Date of Birth
• Nationality
• Passport Number and scan of passport photo page

Notes on COVID-19:
• The NRC has indicated their full intention to carry out the September 2020 flight campaign as of May 2020, but the situation may change.
• Students should not book non-refundable flights to Ottawa or accommodations unless advised otherwise by the Instructor.
• The NRC is a Government of Canada agency and we will comply with all Canadian health regulations regarding COVID-19.
• Students are advised to monitor the travel restrictions regarding the US/Canada border.
• Students in need of travel visas should contact the Instructor as early as possible.

2021 Course Schedule


17apr(apr 17)6:30 pm21(apr 21)5:00 pmPoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 2001 and 2002

19apr(apr 19)8:00 am23(apr 23)5:00 pm2020 PoSSUM Academy - Red Sprite Group

24apr(apr 24)6:30 pm28(apr 28)5:00 pmPoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 2003 and 2101

26apr(apr 26)8:00 am30(apr 30)5:00 pm2020 PoSSUM Academy - Blue Jet Group


01may8:00 am05(may 5)5:00 pmOPS 102 Spacecraft Egress and Rescue Operations On-SiteOn-site compliment to OPS 102 course providing aircraft egress and sea survial training to complement post-landing human space flight system engineering instruction

06may(may 6)8:00 am09(may 9)5:00 pmFeaturedBIO 104: Advanced Egress - Spacesuit Landing and Post-Landing Testing

10may(may 10)8:00 am12(may 12)5:00 pmOPS 104 On-Site Mission Simulation TrainingOn-Site compliment to OPS 104 Orbital Mechanics and Mission Simulation using the IIAS Orion simulator to provide high-fidelity simulation of ISS rendezvous and docking missions.

13may(may 13)8:00 am16(may 16)5:00 pmEVA 105 Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory EVA Operations CampaignOn-Site compliment to EVA 105 Fundamentals of Underwater EVA Operations using the IIAS Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. This NAUI-certified prepares on to evaluate actual EVA space suits in analog underwater conditions.

17may(may 17)8:00 am21(may 21)5:00 pmFeaturedBIO 103 Microgravity Research CampaignMicrogravity Research Campaign supporting the IIAS BIO 103 Program

25may(may 25)8:00 am28(may 28)5:00 pmEVA 102 Operational Space Medicine Field CampaignField component to cover wilderness medicine in extreme environments, culminating with a 4-day on-site lab portion devoted to triage, scenarios and skills pertaining to wilderness medicine

29may01junEVA 103 Planetary Field Geology Field CampaignEVA 103 course covers the requirements and design considerations for EVA systems and tools for conducting planetary field geology


06jun(jun 6)8:00 am12(jun 12)5:00 pmFTE 102 Fixed-Wing Performance Flight Test CampaignOn-Site compliment to FTE 102 Fixed-Wing Performance Flight Testing using Turbo Mooney aircraft.

13jun(jun 13)8:00 am19(jun 19)5:00 pmFTE 103 Fixed-Wing Stability and Control Flight Test CampaignOn-Site compliment to the FTE 102 Fixed-Wing Stability and Control Flight Test Course using Turbo Mooney, Piper Twin, and Pitts S2B aircraft.


10julAll Day20FeaturedAER 103 Noctilucent Cloud Imagery Field Research CampaignField campaign as part of AER 103, Airborne Noctilucent Cloud Imagery course to study noctilucent cloud formations through coordinated ground, airborne, and balloon observations.


01nov8:00 am05(nov 5)5:00 pmFeaturedEVA 104 Gravity-Offset EVA Space Suit Evaluation CampaignGravity-offset research campaign to evaluate the Final Frontier Design EVA space suit by applying the tools and techniques developed through EVA 102 and EVA 103 courses

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