Invention of the Year

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2003 Award Winner

Government and Commercial Award Winner

Award Title:

Personal Cabin Pressure Altitude Monitor and Warning System

Lead NASA Center:

Kennedy Space Center (KSC)

Award Category:

Government and Commercial

Case Number:

KSC-12168-1

Summary:

A depressurized cabin on aircraft or any human-tended space vehicle (like Space Station or Shuttle) or planetary habitat (Lunar or Mars Base) presents hazards due to a pressurization system failure, vehicle impact/damage, or errant system configuration. It is not only possible but has all too often actually happened over the years--sometimes with fatal consequences. The Payne Stewart Lear Jet crash in 1999, the Progress/Mir collision in 1997 and Apollo 13 oxygen tank explosion in 1970 are highly visible examples where pressurization systems have impacted the mission and endangered or took the lives of crew members and/or passengers. When a depressurization event happens with the crew unaware, such as in a slow but significant leak, the nature of hypoxia can render the crew helpless in short order. The cognitive and mental ability is affected first, followed by physical incapacitation and then unconsciousness or even death. The premise behind the Cabin Pressure Monitor is to provide a timely warning, to the crewmember(s) while they are still mentally and physically able to take corrective/protective action. It is licensed to Kelly Mfg., the world's largest producer of general aviation instruments, for use in aviation and for other ground applications, such as mountain climbing, precise altitude measurements for use by utilities, etc.