Electronic Design

A New Kind Of Space Walk—The COLBERT Treadmill

NASA opted for the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) for use in the International Space Station. Quantum Controls Inc., working with Woodway USA (the treadmill supplier), Wyle Laboratories, and NASA, successfully met all expectations of motor control for the treadmill, and the required certifications for space travel.

Quantum’s design for the treadmill uses brushless dc motor technology and eliminates the typical flywheel used on treadmills, increasing efficiency. The main reason NASA chose the COLBERT (which, by the way, is named after Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report”) was to simplify the system, making it easier and less costly to maintain.

The design should also boost reliability, so that the treadmill is consistently available to the crew. The crew must work out daily to counteract the loss of bone and muscle density, which is a side effect of long-duration stays in orbit.

See associated figure.

TAGS: Components
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