Real-life astronauts test the habitat module of humanity’s first distant space station

Sometime very soon our species will have created its first habitat in orbit around another celestial body. It is called Gateway and will be placed above the surface of the Moon to support the operations of the Artemis astronauts. That will happen soon, so new and exciting developments are on the horizon.

Several international space agencies are working on the Gateway project, including the US NASA, the European ESA, the Japanese JAXA and the Canadian CSA. Backing them are a host of private companies, including SpaceX, Maxar and Northrop Grumman.

The space station will consist of three main components. They are the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) and the Lunar International Habitat (Lunar I-Hop). It is the latter that interests us most today.

The lunar i-hob, being assembled in Europe, is where the astronauts will live and work, but also where life support systems and camera equipment can be housed.

Before sending it into space, the module must be thoroughly tested. To make that happen, a European company called Thales Alenia Space is working in parallel on two versions of the spacecraft: a full-scale replica of the module and one that will be sent into space in the future for testing purposes.

I-Hab is responsible for the latest developments in the project. As promised in April, the European Space Agency has begun and completed human-in-the-loop testing of the hardware, focusing extensively on accessibility and maneuverability while inside the module. Day-to-day activities were also implemented within the block.

The system used real-life astronauts for the mission, four of them. Part three ESA (Luca Parmitano, Rosemary Coogan, and Marcus Wantt), and one from the American partner NASA – Stanley G. Love. Parmitano and Love are veterans of the International Space Station, while the other two are new to the business.

READ  A strategy to enhance the light-induced superconductivity of K₃C₆₀

Experiments with astronauts were carried out at the Thales facility in Turin, Italy. „Critical step in module design and development.” All four were on site to identify problems with interior design, detect hidden hazards, and ensure tools and other gear were within easy reach.

Thales Alenia Space will use astronaut input to modify the design of the I-Hab that will actually go into space. The complexity of replication will gradually increase and it will start connecting interfaces as well. Once all tests are performed, the module enters the System Critical Design Review phase.

Lunar I-Hab will fly to the Moon as part of the Artemis IV mission scheduled for 2028. Both modules, PPE and HALO, should already be in place by then, as they will take off next year. Falcon Heavy Rocket.

The same Artemis IV crew that delivered I-Hab to lunar orbit is now working to bring the station fully online and prepare it for the first lunar surface mission that will use Gateway as a staging post.

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *