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NASA: Big Bite Valve

Seth: Seth here from CamelBak. We're outside of NASA in Houston, and we
are going to go in and check out how the bite valve is used in the space
suits that the astronauts wear when they need enhanced rehydration and
they're out in outer space or training in the facilities. We're at the NASA
pool watching some of the astronauts get suited up for some test rounds.

Robert: Hi, I'm Robert Knight. I'm one of the suit and tool engineers over
here at the NBL, otherwise known as the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.
Basically what I do is I get people fitted into a suit, and then once we
get them into the suit, we end up putting them into the training facility
here.

Seth: How much water does this hold?

Robert: A little under 6.3 million gallons of water.

Seth: Wow.

Robert: Most of the structure that's in the pool right now is the mock-ups
of the Space Station.

Seth: Now, how much hydration do they get?

Robert: We give them what we call a DIDB, a Disposable In-suit Drink Bag,
and we can fill this bag up with either 21 or 32 ounces of water. This is
the suit processing lab of the NBL. This is primarily where we build all
the suits up for the runs that are coming up in the pool. All hand built,
all double-checked. We have a lot of procedures and everything that we go
by.

This is one of our DIDBs. This is the actual drink bag that the crew is
drinking out of while they're performing their tasks under water. How we
basically adhere this inside of the HUT to the suit is via this bag right
here. This is what we call our DIDB restraint bag, if you'll notice all the
Velcro that's on the bag. So now you've got your hydration system enclosed
in a restraint bag that will fit inside of the HUT. And if you notice, we
do have a valve stem coming up right above the neck ring with the bite
valve here. This is where the astronauts get their hydration.

Seth: Keeps it hands-free, spill-proof. It's not going to leak and lose
any of that precious water when you're stuck inside a space bubble.

Keith: Hi, my name is Keith Blon [SP]. I'm with IOC Dopra [SP]. I'm a
design engineering manager. We're here at Johnson Space Center in Building
7 in the blue room where we do pressurized suit evaluations with the EMU,
which is the suit that we currently use on the NASA International Space
Station.

Seth: How's it feeling in there?

Man: It feels great. We're at just about at 4.3 psi, which is the suit
pressure when they do the EMU suit run on the International Space Station.
Myself and Steve [inaudible 02:25] are the suit techs. We take and make
sure that we monitor his pressures as cooling. Should it get too warm in
the suit, we can cool him down. He has to keep a certain airflow flowing
down over his face. It comes in the suit here and it flows through the
helmet. The air is flowing right down over his face and it pushes it down
into the suit.

Seth: And then the tubes that are in the suit you're wearing...

Man: It's what the cold water goes through. This is to cool him down.

Seth: I'm getting inside a space suit to try out the bite valve, how the
astronauts drink in outer space. Woo hoo! Snug fit. I can't put my arms
down.

Robert: So today here at the NBL we have astronaut candidates. What
they're doing today is they're going to be in the water actually practicing
some tasks. I'm here with Jeanette Epps, she's one of our AsCan astronauts.
Is it a four hour or a five hour run today?

Man: Six hour run

Robert: This is a six hour run today. What we're doing now is you've got a
couple tool technicians here that are actually placing the tools on the
suit. These tools are going to be used during this NBL event.

Seth: So they're going to be lowered in on this crane. The crane is going
to submerge them in the pool, and they've got weights attached to their
feet so they'll sink to the bottom, and then the support divers will take
the weights off, because being submerged in the water is the closest they
can get to zero gravity without being in outer space.

Yeah, we might take it for granted when you're out there on a hike or on a
bike and you can just grab the tube, but when you're stuck in a helmet and
you can't touch anything, you've got to be able to drink over those six
hours.

Robert: Being a one-way flow valve, it doesn't allow any water to escape
inside the suit, and in an environment like this, it's very important. If
we start getting water splashing around in there and it gets in the
crewman's eyes, it makes to be a bad day. The system works very well here.

Seth: Whole different situation when you're inside a space suit than when
you're out on a bike or out hiking on the trail if your drink interface
leaks. Thanks Robert, it's been great checking out NASA and showing us
around. Catch you guys next time.

Robert: Anytime. Come back and visit us again.

Seth: That's CamelBak, hanging out at the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Labs,
checking out the space suits.