Growth: Aerospace to Support NASA’s Extravehicular Activity Project Office

Astronaut Ed White during first American spacewalk in 1965. (Photo: NASA)

Many remember the first American spacewalk conducted on the Gemini 4 mission in 1965 by NASA Astronaut Ed White. Commander James McDivitt captured magnificent images of the 23-minute excursion, and whether you were viewing those pictures in the sixties or via the internet at a much later date, it was a poignant slice of history.

Hundreds of Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) have been conducted since that first American spacewalk, and Vaeros’ Human Space Flight Directorate has recently been granted a new contract to support the mission of Johnson Space Center’s EVA Project Office.

“EVA is anytime an astronaut goes outside of the space station or crew vehicle into the harsh and deadly environment of space to do repairs, install new equipment, or to do inspections,” said  Dr. David Bearden, general manager, NASA and Civil Space Division.

NASA’s immediate need is to consolidate contracts in an effort to provide seamless and objective support to manage its future acquisition activities, maintain proprietary data, and reduce the potential for conflict of interest issues, according to Bearden.

Within the next two to three months, 16 technical and support roles will be filled by Aerospace for this new project.

“The primary job will be the support of the planning, provisioning, and execution of spacewalks on board the International Space Station (ISS) to support systems servicing and ISS payload objectives,” said Jeffrey Hanley, principal director, Human Exploration and Space Flight. “Spacewalk events require months of pre-planning and review, and NASA conducts readiness reviews prior to each spacewalk to assure the risks are managed and the crew, procedures, and hardware readiness is acceptable,” he said.

The other function of the organization, according to Hanley, is managing the acquisition of new EVA hardware, which includes tools, crew aids, and spacesuits.

Although the current spacesuit was originally developed in the late 1970s, and it was first used on the shuttle in 1983, it is largely unchanged, he said.

“NASA has new technologies and techniques that can improve the lifetime of the spacesuit and its robustness, as well as the capability of performing NASA’s future mission goals beyond microgravity EVA to service the ISS,” Hanley said. “The present suit is not built for exploration,” he added.

The next EVA on the ISS is scheduled for late March. Aerospace senior management will be on hand in Houston to observe some of the EVA from the Mission Control Center and to meet new employees who will support this effort.

—Gail Kellner