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ESA wants to be present on the small international space station near the Moon

The European Space Agency has kicked off its participation in the future space station near the Moon by signing, with Thales Alenia Space, the first contracts for the study of two elements that will be carried out by Europe for this advanced post. This study will enable ESA to present the funding application to the Member States at the 2019 Ministerial Conference. Franco Fenoglio, Thales Alenia Space Director of Space Transport Operations and Xavier Roser, Head of Service Activities in orbit, also at Thales, explain these two elements.

Succeeding The International Space Station (ISS), the only orbital station in service, represents a major milestone for the … "data-image =" /images/midioriginal/d/3/4/d34dc1c390_50084100_iss-01.jpg "data-url =" / sciences / definitions / astronautics-space-station-international-2571 / "data-more =" Read more ">International Space Station and prepare the first human missions to Mars, the NasaThe European Space Agency represents for Europe a gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of European space capabilities and to make … "data-image =" /f/09f0b05e28_50034401_logo-esa-fs.jpg "data-url =" / sciences / definitions / univers-esa-2466 / "data-more =" Read more ">ESA and other members of the ISS have decided to send a space station on an orbit in astronomy
In astronomy, the orbit designates the closed trajectory followed by a celestial body around another celestial body periodically, under the influence of the … "data-image =" https: //fr.cdn.v5 / buildsv6 / images / midioriginal / 9/2 / e / 92eefd02ac_49145_iss-earth-sun-nasa-s-marshall-space-flight-center-flickr-cc-nc-20.jpg "data-url = "/ sciences / definitions / universe-orbit-873 /" data-more = "Read more">orbit cislunaire. christened Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), this outpost will be used as a transit for exploration and study of deep space and will serve as a starting point for the missions inhabited around the A moon with a tiny "L" is the satellite of a planet. For example Phobos and Deimos are the two moons of the planet Mars.
The moon
The Moon with a capital "L" is the only natural satellite of the Earth; it probably results from a collision there is 4.4 … "data-image =" /c785911d64_50034415_lune-05.jpg "data-url =" / sciences / definitions / universe-moon-2550 / "data-more =" Read more ">Moon, at destination of Mars and its moons, as well as towards asteroids. Unlike the International Space Station (ISS), permanently occupied by a crew of six astronauts, this outpost will not be inhabited permanently but visited as needed for periods of about 30 to 40 days. It will accommodate a crew of four, which corresponds to the transport capacity of the Orion vehicle from NASA.

A station to prepare the next stages of exploration

This outpost will be installed in an NRHO orbit (Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit) in the Earth-Moon system, neither circular nor elliptical, and linked to the Lagrange points are … "data-image =" midioriginal / 1 / eee / 1ee29c0d91_50034744_point-lagrange-nasa-wmap-science-team-01.jpg "data-url =" / science / definitions / universe-point-lagrange-4540 / "data-more =" Read the more ">Lagrange points L1 and L2. This position, close to the Moon, offers enough stable orbits close to the Earth's Structure … "data-image =" /midioriginal/8/4/e/84ff7edce5_123534_terre-apollo8.jpg "data-url =" / planet / definitions / structure-earth-land-4725 / "data-more =" Read more ">Earth to allow a relatively fast return in case of emergency. It is also located in a spatial environment representative of deep space. It is a good compromise found between proximity of the Earth and the Moon, test bench for exploration technologies and assembly station for future transport vehicles that will make the long journey to Mars, for example.

The first element will be launched by 2022-2023; the LOP-G should be completed in 2026-2027 for a contractual life of at least 15 years. Most of the elements will be launched by the SLS launcher (Space Launch System) of Nasa, as the manned flights of the capsule Orion. Commercial launches are also planned, including freighters for logistics services (food, water, parts, etc.).

Although the participation of the European Space Agency in this outpost will be decided at the end of 2019, during the session of its council at the ministerial level, ESA has just signed with Thales Alenia Space the contracts for the preliminary design studies of the Esprit Scientific and I-HAB module, two elements of the LOP-G program. This phase, A / B1 in the jargon of ESA, is very important. It will enable ESA to submit the application for funding to Member States at the 2019 Ministerial.

  • Spirit is a small scientific airlock. It includes propellant storage and refueling systems (General
    Symbol: XeNuclear number: 54Electrons by energy level: 2, 8, 18, 18, 8Mass Atomic: 131,293 Most important Isotopes … "data-image =" https: //fr.cdn.v5.futura-sciences. com / buildsv6 / images / midioriginal / 0/8/1 / 0815641520_75195_xenon.jpg "data-url =" / sciences / definitions / chemistry-xenon-14902 / "data-more =" read more ">Xenon and hydrazine) of the electric propulsion element (first US element of the LOP-G), moon communication systems, interface points for external payloads and an airlock for deploying scientific payloads.
  • I-HAB is a pressurized module seven meters long with a diameter of 4.5 meters. It is equipped with liveability and life support functions, providing mooring capabilities to provide interfaces and resources to passing vehicles.

For now, these are studies of " feasibility and definition of technical data that should lead to a preliminary design of the two elements Explains Franco Fenoglio, the director of manned space transport activities at Thales Alenia Space Italy. This phase makes it possible to set main technical options, the development plan and the costs as well as the specifications of the subsystems and equipment ". It also makes it possible to finalize the choice of the industrial team. This phase, sanctioned by Preliminary Design Review, is expected to last until autumn 2019, when ESA will decide at the ministerial conference in late 2019 whether it finances the construction of these two elements. ".

" The legacy of Space station will be very present in the realization of the housing module I-HAB ", Says Franco Fenoglio and recall that Thales Alenia Space is the" second ISS module provider after Boeing ". Thales Alenia Space's previous developments for the Space Station are therefore " serve as a starting point for the realization of the elements of this lunar station ", To meet specific needs specific to the LOP-G program.

One of the most important challenges is The reduction of the unit of mass: the kilogram
The mass is represented by the symbol m and, in … "data-image =" jpg "data-url =" / sciences / definitions / physics-mass-15213 / "data-more =" Read more ">mass
". These mass gains are " very popular, because it is much more expensive to transfer 1 kg in lunar orbit than in the low orbit of the ISS ". But, as around the moon there is no debris, he is possible to play on the thickness of the materials and on the parts that will be used for docking, which will be smaller and therefore lighter ". The American shuttle is no longer in service, it will also be necessary to consider NASA's SLS performance and capabilities that will be used to launch LOP-G elements ". The launch mass of the LOP-G elements should be as low as possible, which will involve the use of lighter structures, both for pressure hulls, for example by reducing their thickness, and for internal secondary structures that will accommodate equipment ".

This explains why the mass of the housing module I-HAB, inspired " for the shape and mass of the nodes (nodes), and that we realized for the ISS ", Will be less than nine tons maximum, against 14 tons for the junction module number 3. Another strong constraint, the architecture of this module will have to be of a very great functionality and take into account of" accommodation solutions favoring more comfortable living spaces ". If the ISS has several modules offering the opportunity to move, to deliver and work in all of them The LOP-G will be smaller. It is therefore important to focus on the "human factors" aspects and be able to " provide more habitable rooms And to already prepare the future modules that will then be part of the long journey to Mars In which the crew will stay in the same module for up to 1,000 days. Hence the need to start designing more comfortable modules for the crew, in smaller spaces to which astronauts are accustomed ".

As for the Esprit scientific airlock, which can be pressurized and depressurized, its purpose is to recover payloads or experiments that would arrive at the station by pressurized cargo ships and install them outside the station thanks to the robotic arm which will be provided by Canada. He " works a bit like a torpedo tube Explains Xavier Roser, head of service in orbit at Thales Alenia Space. This airlock essentially combines functions that rely on a legacy of pressurized modules made by Thales Alenia Space for the ISS ".

Esprit is also equipped with propulsion, avionics and interplanetary telecommunications subsystems to enable communications between earth, moon and station Which they are the inheritance of technological bricks developed for theorbiter TGO of the ExoMars 2016 mission, also developed by Thales Alenia Space.

What you must remember

  • ESA launches the first studies of the two European elements of the future space station near the Moon.
  • This advanced exploration post will be carried out in cooperation between the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Canada and Europe.
  • This first phase is important because it will allow ESA to submit the application for funding to Member States to the 2019 Ministerial, which should formalize participation in this project.

After the ISS, a small international space station near the Moon

Article of Rémy Decourt published on the 30/04/2018

NASA wants to reconquer the moon and send humans to Mars. The 2019 budget makes it possible to place the first orders in the industry next year with the objective of launching in 2022 the first element of this space station, which will be, in fact, an advanced exploration post. As for the role of the European Space Agency, Bernardo Patti, the Director of Exploration, explains it to us.

In the United States, the renewed interest in the Moon is confirmed. Pushed by the Trump administration and a good budget, NASA has just announced that the first contracts for the future advanced lunar exploration position will be signed as early as 2019. These first contracts will concern equipment needed for the future modules of this advanced position.

This exploration outpost located near the Moon, recently renamed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), will be used as a transit zone for the exploration and study of deep space. It will serve as a starting point for manned missions around the Moon, destination of Mars and its moons, as well as to asteroids. It should be noted that NASA does not explicitly mention sending humans to the moon.

This advanced position is sized for a crew of four – the transport capacity of the Orion vehicle – for stays of up to three months, at least at the beginning of the use of this structure. of the durations longer, but will depend on the responses to the problem of radiation and refueling crews on board.

Strictly speaking, it will not be a space station, but rather a vessel that will have the ability to navigate. This orbital outpost will "See how he can support lunar missions robotic and inhabited and will help us develop a vehicle to explore Mars with humans "explained in September 2017 Frank De Winne, Advisor to the Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations at ESA and Director of the European Astronaut Center.

This outpost will be installed in an orbit NRHO (Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit), a type of halo orbit in the Earth-Moon system, neither circular nor elliptical, and related to Lagrange points L1 and L2. If the Delta V to dock at this station is not very interesting, such an orbit nevertheless has several advantages. First, it is stable, always exposed to The Sun is the closest star to the Earth, from which it is distant about 150 million kilometers. The Sun is located at 8.5 kparsecs from the center of the Milky Way. In the classification of stars, the sun is a star of type G2.
The mass … "data-image =" "data-url =" / sciences / definitions / universe-sun-3727 / "data-more =" Read more ">Sun and permanently visible from the Moon and Earth, which will facilitate communications. In the longer term, this orbit could also be used for telescopes space, to transmit, relay information, etc. It is therefore a bet on the future.

ESA will be present on this outpost

The participation of the European Space Agency in this outpost "Will be decided at the end of 2019, at the ESA Council meeting at ministerial level"explains Bernardo Patti, the director of exploration programs at ESA. The agreement found with NASA "What role ESA could play and what it could provide will be proposed to our Member States at this session".

This agreement door sure "The supply of a number of service modules for the Orion vehicle as well as two major elements of this advanced station: the housing module and the Esprit module ». Spirit is "An unpressurized module that will house communication easements with the moon, the earth and the approaching vehicles". It will also ship the tanks of xenon and hydrazine. It will also be equipped "An airlock, but not for astronauts". This passage will only be used for the transfer of scientific experiments or technological demonstrations from the pressurized part of the advanced station to the non-pressurized part.

As for the housing module, baptized International Habitation Module, ESA will be "The Role …" data-image = "" data-url = "/ home / definitions / home-master-work-10765 /" data-more = "Read more">project manager and the integrator of the different equipments that the other partners of the program will provide ». The European mooring mechanism IBDM (International Berthing and Docking Mechanism) "Will be proposed to NASA". This mooring system has the distinction of being the first designed according to standards common to all ISS space partner agencies, so that a common docking interface is available, which is not the case. the case today. It will equip the cargo and manned version of the Dream Chaser.

ESA's participation in this space station will be based on "A different scheme from that of the International Space Station". Today, funding for the use of the Station is made within the framework of " barter agreement ", A system put in place by the ISS partners where each one finances its share of the use of the Station by the provision of a service of the same amount as its contribution. Until 2017, ESA has discharged its ATV missions. For the period 2017-2020, ESA is paying its "rent" to NASA by financing the development of the service module for NASA's future space exploration vehicle worth 450 million euros.

Under the LOP-G, no rent to pay: "ESA becomes a shareholder of the structure somehow". In concrete terms, each partner makes a contribution and on the "The basis of this contribution is entitled to profits that may be flights and stays of astronauts, moorings or use of facilities for example".

After the ISS, NASA considers a space station near the Moon

Article by Rémy Decourt published on 18/09/2017

To prepare for the human exploration of the Moon, Mars, or even an asteroid, the International Space Station (ISS) partners are thinking about sending an outpost near the Moon. This Deep Space Gateway would be more of a vehicle than a space station. Explanations with Frank De Winne, former astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA) and director of the European Astronaut Center.

Nearly twenty years after the launch of the first module of the International Space Station (ISS), Zarya, in November 1998, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the other partners of the program are thinking about projects to succeed this station at an altitude of 400 kilometers and which has brought the communities closer to scientists and engineers from many countries.

"With all the partners, we are looking at how, in the near future, we will be able to serve the low orbit and beyond"explains Frank De Winne, advisor to the Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations at ESA and Director of the European Astronaut Center. The idea that prevails today is a " bridge to deep space[[Deep Space Gateway, in English]".

It will not be a space station, but rather a "Vehicle that will have the ability to navigate". This orbital outpost will "See how this vehicle can support robotic and inhabited lunar missions and help us develop a vehicle for explore Mars with humans ". It will be installed near the Moon, in an orbit that is not yet specified.

The Deep Space Gateway, an outpost of space exploration

This gateway to deep space is not an officially approved program. For the moment, "It's just very preliminary studies". The ESA teams are working on a minimal and very basic configuration consisting of three modules with a diameter identical to that of the ISS (4.5 meters): we will count "A module of life, a service and the module of propulsion which will be electric". This future vehicle will have at least two mooring ports using " a common standard to all space agencies partners in the ISS program for mooring spacecraft ". ESA could propose the standardized mooring port it is currently developing with the Belgian company QinetiQ Space NV. This standard (International Docking System Standard or IDSS) should also be adopted by Russia and the private sector, suggesting that it would become an international standard. Finally, this vehicle will be served by the Orion ship, NASA, "To which ESA participates by providing the service module " and who will be able to carry four astronauts. The hosting capacity of the Deep Space Gateway will also be four astronauts since it will be "Dimensioned according to the transport capacity of the Orion vehicle".

With a total mass of less than 20 tonnes, compared to the 400 tonnes of the ISS, this Deep Space Gateway could be "Assembled into orbit in just four launches". The construction of this outpost of exploration could begin in "The first part of the 2020s", which would require the Ministers of ESA Member States "Authorize [cette dernière] to participate in this program » at the ESA Ministerial Council meeting in 2019.

This program will be international. For now, ESA has not decided what will be " his role […] but different options are being studied ». The agency has shown interest in "Electric propulsion, life support systems and telecommunications". With a significant legacy, with iconic programs of the know-how of the European space industry (such as " the module Columbus, Spacehab shuttles or the automatic vehicle ATV "), ESA will want "Capitalize on what she knows how to do".

The uncertain future of the ISS

As for the International Space Station, its " end of life is expected in 2024 or 2028 ". The program partners obviously do not intend to leave the low orbit and all "Have the will to maintain a human presence". Here again, several scenarios are under study, including one "Extension of the Station that could be done in the framework of a partnership with the private sector".

Like NASA, ESA is ready to accompany the "Commercialization of the low orbit in order to stimulate its space industrial sector". Nor does it exclude the use of private services for the supply of this Deep Space Gateway. "We will be open to the best options that will come to us when the time comes. "

After-ISS: a future station near the Moon?

Article by Rémy Decourt published on 2016-09-16

What will ISS space agencies do when the Station, at the end of service, is rushed into theatmosphere, presumably by 2028? All want to pursue similar collaboration, which has brought communities of scientists and engineers from many countries closer together. One of the hypotheses is that of another station, perhaps in lunar orbit, which would be used for distant explorations and permanent activities, maintenance services for spacecraft or tourist stays …

In recent years, discussions have intensified on the projects that will succeed the International Space Station. The idea is less to define a roadmap than to study the best way to use the financial resources of the space agencies of this historic program when it has ended. Eighteen years after the launch of the first module, Zarya, in November 1998, it is planned to desorb it in 2024 or even 2028. The partners of the program have agreed tooperate until 2024, with the exception of the European Space Agency, which will vote in December at the next session of its Ministerial Council.

The Station may not be a great scientific achievement, but since 2012 it has provided much of the potential for which it was designed. This international achievement is above all an unprecedented political and technological success. Initiated during the Cold War, this project allowed the United States to take the Russians first in the field of low-Earth orbit exploitation and to keep whole sections of the Russian space industry afloat. Technically, it is also a unique and successful example of international cooperation that has brought together very different working methods and standards.

From the Moon to Mars

Despite political tensions between Russia and other nations, cooperation between space agencies is doing well. Recently, NASA and Roscosmos have come together to discuss the future of this program and what to do next. And the ideas are not lacking. In the private as well as the public, we are working on this new conquest of space and everyone is building his strategy and his mission scenarios, like Elon Musk who promises a colonization of Mars.

Among the hypotheses studied, one stands out from the pack: to install near the Moon a space station that could serve as a platform for the exploration of our natural satellite but also as a springboard for manned missions to Mars or asteroids. This station would be more like an advanced exploration post. It will be equipped with mooring ports meeting the same international standard, which will allow it to accommodate space vehicles from all countries. It will serve the maintenance orbital modules and vehicles, assembly and repair of vehicles that will move beyond the Moon. A segment of this station could be reserved for the private sector for the commercialization of scientific activities, research and space tourism.

ESA imagines a space hub

Absent from this meeting, the European Space Agency also has its idea on this subject. It is studying the interest of a habitable space station, smaller than the ISS and located at point Lagrange L2 of the Earth-Moon system. Served by the inhabited vehicle Orion Nasa, to which ESA participates by providing the service moduleshe would not be permanently busy.

This remote station would be inhabited by astronauts for durations that would remain limited at first. It could for example be used to tele-operate robotic missions to the Moon surface. This stop could also be used for transits of samples returned from the Solar system before coming down to Earth. It would also be a kind of " hub For astronauts traveling to the moon.

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