Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aerospace Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

David M. Klaus

Second Advisor

James A. Nabity

Third Advisor

Louis S. Stodieck

Fourth Advisor

Se-Hee Lee

Fifth Advisor

Jonathan G. Metts


The feasibility of conducting long duration human spaceflight missions is largely dependent on the provision of consumables such as oxygen, water, and food. In addition to meeting crew metabolic needs, water sublimation has long served as the primary heat rejection mechanism in space suits during extravehicular activity (EVA). During a single eight hour EVA, approximately 3.6 kg (8 lbm) of water is lost from the current suit. Reducing the amount of expended water during EVA is a long standing goal of space suit life support systems designers; but to date, no alternate thermal control mechanism has demonstrated the ability to completely eliminate the loss. One proposed concept is to convert the majority of a space suit’s surface area into a radiator such that the local environment can be used as a radiative thermal sink for rejecting heat without mass loss. Due to natural variations in both internal (metabolic) loads and external (environmental) sink temperatures, radiative transport must be actively modulated in order to maintain an acceptable thermal balance. Here, variable emissivity electrochromic devices are examined as the primary mechanism for enabling variable heat rejection. This dissertation focuses on theoretical and empirical evaluations performed to determine the feasibility of using a full suit, variable emissivity radiator architecture for space suit thermal control. Operational envelopes are described that show where a given environment and/or metabolic load combination may or may not be supported by the evaluated thermal architecture. Key integration considerations and guidelines include determining allowable thermal environments, defining skin-to-radiator heat transfer properties, and evaluating required electrochromic performance properties. Analysis also considered the impacts of dynamic environmental changes and the architecture’s extensibility to EVA on the Martian surface. At the conclusion of this work, the full suit, variable emissivity radiator architecture is considered to be at a technology readiness level of 3/4, indicating that analytical proof-of-concept and component level validation in a laboratory environment have been completed. While this is not a numeric increase from previous investigations, these contributions are a significant iteration within those levels. These results improve the understanding of the capabilities provided by the full suit, variable emissivity architecture.