Textile Damage in Astronaut Gloves


Shockey, D. A., Piascik, R. S., Jensen, B. J., Hewes, L. S., & Sutter, J. K. (2013). Textile damage in astronaut gloves. Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention, 13(6), 748-756. doi: 10.1007/s11668-013-9742-x


The ability of protective gloves to resist cutting, tearing, puncture, abrasion, and unraveling is critical for many activities, but particularly for spacewalk activities. Since astronaut safety requires that pressure boundaries not be violated, damage observed in the outer layers of ten gloves after excursions about the International Space Station in 2006 was of great concern. An urgent effort was initiated to determine how and why the damage occurred and how to prevent it in the future. A team of scientists examined the failed fabric, yarns, and fibers of the damaged gloves with high-resolution microscopy and conducted laboratory experiments to produce glove damage under known load conditions. This article describes the damage observations and results of the laboratory tests, deduces how the damage occurred, and presents guidelines for designing gloves that are more damage resistant.

Keywords: Astronaut gloves, Textile damage, Vectran®, Micrometeorite crater.

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