Successful Ventilation Loop Fan Life Testing for NASA’s Future Space Suits

Barber-Nichols is proud to announce the successful completion of the Ventilation Loop Fan Life Testing for the Exploration Portable Life Support System (xPLSS), a critical subsystem in NASA’s future space suits.

Since 2019, Barber-Nichols has been working in collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Center and Jacobs Technology Inc to design, manufacture, test, and deliver fans capable of safely supplying 100% oxygen to astronauts for breathing during spacewalks. Designing for human spaceflight has challenging requirements ranging from minimizing space and weight to high reliability and even noise constraints. Pulling together a final product takes thoughtful planning, precise execution, and thorough verification with the highest quality throughout the entire process.

After a 15-month test campaign and more than 9000 hours of runtime, this little fan has blown past all expectations including performance, power consumption, and endurance. The test loop was designed and built by Barber-Nichols to circulate nitrogen and monitor pressure, flow, temperature, vibrations, power, and more. Despite being pushed well past its specification life, the fan continued to run without any signs of failure or diminished performance.

Barber-Nichols is honored by the opportunity we’ve had to take on this challenge and help advance human exploration of the universe.  We look forward to the continued support of next-generation space suits through the xEVAS program.

CW from top: B-N space suit fan team; Space suit fan; Fan mounted in Life Test loop