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NASA is seeking commercial respirator systems to protect against fire events and ammonia leaks (10,000ppm). These specialized flight masks would be used by crews on exploration vehicles in the event of a fire or leak event and the crew has nowhere to escape the contaminated environment. Respirators function should be sufficient to allow crews to stay in the environment for a minimum of 8 hours before space suits need to be donned.


A potential fire event on the Orion vehicle would release gases and particulates. In this event, crews would require a respirator to protect themselves from the environment while releasing a portable fire extinguisher in the small volume to put out the fire. The clean-up effort following the fire may take a minimum of 4 hours to bring down concentrations of contaminant gases, so the respirator must provide 8 hours of protection to the crew. Previous mask solutions achieved this using cartridges containing media to scrub gas constituents from the air. This is not the only acceptable solution, but a gas source may be difficult to achieve the required 8 hours.


Respirator systems must:

  • Have a clear field of view that won’t fog under extreme heat or humidity conditions
  • Be able to be donned by crew in 30 seconds or less
  • Meet functional and performance requirements for at least 8 hours
  • Operate at a total inlet flow rate of 21.6 lpm at 37-133 °F and 9.5-15.5 psia
  • Not have any after-flame longer than 5 seconds or drip, melt, or develop a hole visible to unaided eye after exposure
  • Not have any after-flame longer than 5 seconds after exposure to and removal from a flame source
  • Not allow particulates greater than or equal to 0.3 microns
  • Reduce the maximum concentration of provided air constituents to concentrations as given by NASA


Additional desirable features include:

  • An exhalation air flow resistance not exceeding 20mm water column below ambient pressure at air flow rate of 21.6 lpm
  • An inhalation air flow resistance not exceeding 127mm water column below ambient pressure at air flow rate of 21.6 lpm after exposure to particulates
  • Ability to operate in 100% relative humidity
  • No latex

Desired outcome of the solution:

Looking to purchase commercially available solutions in the next 3 years.

Field of use and intended applications:

Contingency breathing apparatus for the Orion vehicle.

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