Missions: Expedition Two, ISS Mission 5A.1, STS-102 Space Shuttle Flight & following
Experiment Location on ISS: Materials Science Research Facility
Payload Developer: David Reynolds, Lead Systems Engineer, NASA Flight Project Directorate Office, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
The Payload Equipment Restraint System (PERS) is the result of a project involving NASA and Industrial Design students at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.
PERS provides convenient access and restraint of tools, hardware and payload equipment aboard the International Space Station. It consists of modular components that assist the Space Station crew in controlling and carrying payload equipment and tools in the microgravity, or near-weightlessness environment of space.
The Payload Equipment Restraint System is designed to address the challenges of keeping items handy and secure for the Space Station crew. By using it, crews can work more efficiently and reduce the problem of items floating out of reach inside the Station.
The mobile restraints and work surfaces made possible by PERS were originally designed to assist the crew when they exchange equipment and experiments on the Materials Science Research Facility (MSRF). This facility is a three-rack structure that holds materials science investigations in a variety of interchangeable modules. This equipment will now be used throughout the Space Station.
The PERS system will eventually include five separate elements for the Space Station crews.
For this mission, the Single Strap and the H-Strap will be on board. Other system elements will be integrated during future missions. The straps are designed to attached to opposing rack faces that are approximately 86 inches (218.4 centimeters) apart.
The crew members will use the straps to hold cables, hand tools, Space Station bungee straps, payload hardware, odd-shaped items, samples and large boxes.
The Single Strap is made of Kevlar®, used for bulletproof vests; Nomex® webbing, used for protective clothing; elastic and Velcro®. It can be adjusted for tautness to make it a firm, yet easily moveable restraint. There are several ways to attach items to the strap, including Velcro®, elastic loops, cable ties and D-Rings. The Single Strap attaches via a seat track stud into the Station's rack seat track system, which is similar to seat tracks used in commercial airplanes.
The H-Strap has the same attachment features of the Single Strap, but is wider with mesh pockets for more temporary storage. Both straps are easy to work with, as a crew member can unroll it, attach it and -- when the work is finished -- return it to storage.
The Single Strap can be rolled or folded for easy stowage. The H-Strap is rolled up to a storage dimension of 11 inches (27.9 centimeters) long by 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) wide by 4 inches (10.16 centimeters) tall.
Both straps will be used with other PERS components -- the Belly Pack, the Laptop Restraint Belt and the Tool Page Case -- on future Space Station missions.
The Payload Equipment Restraint System began when NASA gave the problem of restraining loose equipment in space to an Industrial Design Class at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala. A Marshall Space Flight Center project manager and Auburn professors supervised 36 students in 12 teams as they tackled the design and fabrication challenge.
The students submitted more than 360 innovative ideas, and ultimately 12 concepts were selected for prototype development. The teams presented their proposals and prototypes to program managers and engineers at the Marshall Center in late 1998. Marshall managers selected three for further development. Those were presented to the astronaut corps and Space Station program managers in 1999.
An Auburn student who led one of the student design teams was hired by a NASA contractor to further develop the equipment with NASA engineers and program managers.
In late 1999, NASA directed fabrication of the development units that flew aboard NASA's KC-135 aircraft in early 2000 for testing and evaluation. The findings from those test flights resulted in the final design that was qualified for flight.
By having tools, hardware and payload equipment efficiently restrained -- and not floating freely about the Space Station -- crew members can reduce the set up time for experiments and increase the amount of time devoted to science on the Space Station. PERS will benefit the crews for the life of the Space Station.
It has been received enthusiastically by the astronaut corps, with requests for more Space Station units and inquiries about incorporating similar systems for SPACEHAB operations on future Space Shuttle missions.For more information about science aboard the International Space Station, visit: