NASA Astronauts Receive Award for Oxygen Mask Invention

HOUSTON, TX /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA announced today that astronauts Mark E. Kelly and Donald R. Pettit are the Federal Laboratory Consortium 2008 Notable Technology Award recipients for their work inventing an oxygen partial pressure sensor.

Kelly and Pettit's invention works by warning crew members when the partial pressure of oxygen in their oxygen masks decreases below a preset level. An electrochemical sensor provides an electrochemical monitor and tactile warning to the user to prevent hypoxia, which is insufficient oxygen levels the bloodstream.

The two were awarded a U.S. patent for the method and device in 2006, a Tech Brief award in 2003 and an Inventions and Contributions Board Space Act Award in 2007.

Kelly, an experienced naval aviator before joining the NASA astronaut corps, has logged 38 days in space as a space shuttle pilot and commander. He has logged more than 5,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircrafts and has more than 375 carrier landings.

Pettit flew aboard STS-113 on space shuttle Endeavour and spent five and a half months as the science officer for Expedition 6 on the International Space Station, returning on the Soyuz TMA-1. While on board, he conducted science experiments and logged more than 13 hours performing spacewalks outside the complex.