Micro-G NExT

"Quintessence" recently completed the Micro-G NExT design challenge, a challenge put forth by NASA for undergraduate students to design technology to be used by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) during Extravehicular Activity (EVA).

The first round of the challenge had Quintessence design and test a prototype of a camera attachment mount and positioning system, then write a technical proposal detailing the function of the design, the process of building it, and planned outreach with regards to the competition. The second round of the challenge involved finalizing the design and manufacturing a proof of concept to be used during a one week test session at JSC in Houston, Texas, where their tool will be tested by NASA divers in the simulated microgravity environment of NASA’s 6.2 million gallon indoor pool (the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory) where astronauts train for spacewalks. The team with the "best" design at JSC will get the opportunity to present their design at Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and possibly even have their design used by astronauts aboard the ISS.

The Camera Locking and Modular Positioning System (CLaMP) was designed as a submission to this challenge. Per NASA's Micro-G NExT official challenge documentation, "Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), or spacewalks, on the International Space Station (ISS) are currently viewed through cameras mounted on the astronauts’ suits. There is a desire to have another view of the EVA tasks from a separate camera that the astronauts can carry with them and attach to the ISS exterior nearby their worksite. The camera will need to be attached to a stanchion that allows for clocking and adjustability of the camera angle. Since the tasks performed on EVAs are different and take place in a different location each time, the stanchion will need the ability to attach to different interfaces. These interfaces include ISS handrails, the ISS truss segment frame, and the CETA cart square grid". Quintessence has performed static analysis, stress testing, and underwater testing to determine the validity of the Camera Locking and Modular Positioning System (CLaMP) as a functional tool in neutrally buoyant environments. The CLaMP is composed of three distinct subsystems, the attachment mechanism that fastens to three distinct surfaces on the International Space Station (ISS), the connecting arms and joints which allow for pitch adjustment, and the camera positioning system which allows for yaw adjustment.

To learn more about the CLaMP, see a redacted version of Quintessence's design proposal.