Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Stepping Out

NASA has decided to try repairing the loose flap on Atlantis' thermal blanket. This will be done on a fourth EVA that has just been added to the three for ISS construction. Engineers on the ground are busy testing various repair scenarios. Every Shuttle mission carries at least two EVA spacesuits, called Extravehicular Mobility Units. Three EMU's are kept onboard ISS, in addition to Russian suits.

The EMU's are composed of individual parts that are assembled to fit each spacewalker. NASA is currently down to just 12 functioning portable life support systems. The EMU is simply too big to fit onboard Orion. At the end of the Shuttle program several EMU's will be kept permanently on ISS until they wear out. Museums are concerned that there may not be shuttle-era spacesuits left on Earth to display.

An Orion mission will need up to six EVA suits because Orion will have no airlock. If one person needs to go out, the entire crew must suit up and depressurise the ship. Where will they keep six EVA suits? Has anyone factored a ton of spacesuits in the weight of a 10-ton spacecraft? That will be in addition to the suits crews will wear for launch and landing. NASA wants a single suit system for Low Earth Orbit Access and EVA's, but so far the contractor community has fallen short. You're Going Out in That?

Thank the crews' bravery, for the Space Transportation System is in a fragile state. Atlantis' flight was delayed three months because the external tank was damaged by a hailstorm. Falling foam from the tank doomed Columbia and its crew. The tiles of the TPS frequently fall off--whose idea was it to cover a spacecraft with tiles? NASA is returning to the old Apollo solutions with Orion. Future Space hardware should be built tougher.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shuttle was a poor design from the outset. It was a compromise between scientists and military "needs". they would have needed fewer tiles had they used titanium, but decided to save money and use more tiles. Hah!

The entire program has been plagued bu politicians making decisions on matters they have no knowledge of. The ISS was a stupid idea from the outset. The same bunch of republicans who voted for the ISS also voted to kill the supercillider in Texas, despite the fact that it was half finished.

O'Neal pointed the way long a moon base first, then use lunar materials to construct whatever is wanted in earth orbit. this not only uses less energy, it causes no pollution on earth, and can use unfiltered sunlight as an energy source.

I expect mankind will colonize space, the real question is whether they will speak mandarin ir cantonese.

11:12 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Good points. It is time to hang together and keep moving forward. These projects should be able to survive governments of both parties.

The Bush 41 administration proposed doubling the NASA budget for trips to the Moon and Mars. They also supported the Supercollider, since it was in Texas. Congress in 1993 cancelled the SSC and wanted to cut NASA's budget by 20%. That resulted in cancellation of Space Station Freedom, which was revived with Russian help as Space Station Alpha. Presently we are on the way to moonbase, which is one step forward.

7:40 AM  

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