Paragon has developed the only privately owned and operated facility for testing environmental and thermal control subsystems and systems rather than just components. Paragon’s ECLSS Human Rating Facility (EHF) is designed to test spacecraft and spacesuit systems and subsystems during nominal and off-nominal operational scenarios, measure human metabolic rates, aid in assessing integration issues, and more!
Paragon Space Development Corporation has created the only privately developed and owned Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) Human-rating Facility (EHF) (US Patent #7,441,473) for spacecraft system testing in a dynamic flight environment. This facility allows for simulating the very stressing dynamic changes in pressure, altitude and operating conditions experienced during human spaceflight, including suborbital and orbital flight profiles, as well as Martian and lunar environmental conditions. Simulating the dynamic response of changing mission phases is imperative to determine any complex interactions of pressure, thermal and gas constituent control that may manifest during flight. Testing of space suits, pressure suits and ECLS systems can also be performed for failure scenarios that are not able to be duplicated during flight testing. The facility allows for testing of ECLSS hardware before integration with the spacecraft, lowering ECLSS development cost and time, decreasing flight test time, and reducing program risk. The EHF also has the ability to perform metabolic testing on regular people, as most metabolic information, such as oxygen use, carbon dioxide production, and water vapor production is only available and used for people in peak physical condition, such as career astronauts.
The EHF is a 180 cubic foot stainless steel chamber with multiple flanges for incorporating hardware. The flanges are ConFlat flanges, which are a vacuum industry standard and can be adapted to a number of other types of fittings. There are 11-2.75″, 2-4.5″, 4-8″, 3-12″ and 1-16.5″ flanges so multiple types and sizes of equipment can be used. Two ‘antechambers’ are currently attached to two of the larger flanges to simulate external environment pressure. These antechambers can control pressure throughout rapid profile changes to simulate external environment pressures during a sub-orbital or orbital spaceflight trajectory. Solid flanges between the main chamber and the antechambers are used to attach equipment that may release gas from any system that is being tested. Additionally, the EHF has multiple high-precision sensors to measure CO2, O2, temperature, humidity and pressure. The interior can be modified to seat anywhere from 1-4 people comfortably with audio and video communication. Data Acquisition is performed by National Instruments software and multiple channels of information can be recorded for analyzing test results.