Physiological Aspects of the New Propellant Handler's Ensemble
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION COCOA BEACH FL JOHN F KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
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Processing of spacecraft involves the handling of toxic materials such as hypergolic propellants. These toxins mandate full suit enclosures for the protection of the respiratory system and the skin. The weight, structure, and operating parameters of the suit may have a significant effect upon the metabolic and thermal responses of a worker, especially in medium to heavy work situations. This paper involves the initial physiological testing of the new Propellant Handlers Ensemble PHE. Two men and one woman performed a work-rest protocol at ambient temperatures of 20 and 110 F with the backpack CAT I configuration and at 74 F with the hoseline CAT IV configuration. Measurements consisted of heart rate, skin temperatures, rectal, suit and room temperatures and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the helmet area. It was concluded that weight and suit configuration significantly influence physiological stresses on the user. The weight, at 64 pounds for the backpack configuration, proved to be a significant stressor, especially on the women subject. This stressor is clearly evident in the heart rate response. High workloads also tax the limits of the environmental control system because of the increased respiratory requirements. Oxygen levels dropped as much as 4 percent during exercise from resting values. Mean carbon dioxide levels exceeded 3.9 percent during the second exercise period causing respiratory distress in all subjects.
- Stress Physiology