Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber
At the heart of the two PVAC [Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber] units were two back-mounted carpet extractor motors. These each created suction with a three-stage impeller, were powered by seven lithium-polymer batteries, and created a seal against the wall using connected handheld pads lined with closed-cell foam. A pressure release lever on each pad allowed it to be secured against the wall when being used by the climber to pull themselves up, then released so it could be lifted higher.
A gauge indicated safe vacuum levels, while a volt meter let climbers know if they were about to run out of juice (as it turned out, they just made it).
Hanging beneath each pad was a stirrup, with a foot rest made from fiberglass rebar. Users placed one foot in each stirrup, then set to climbing the wall. “The motion of the system is like that of climbing a ladder,” team leader TJ Morton told us. “The only difference is the climber must learn to correctly distribute his weight as he climbs.”
[read more] [Wright-Patterson Air Force Base] [Photo: USU]