Regardless of which astronauts are sent to perform, the engineers who send them have to solve two major problems: how to get space creatures out of the Earth (and in orbit or on the way to the moon or mars) and how to get them back again. With decades of experience in disposing of beneficial loads in space, the cosmic powers in the world have unanimously settled on chemical missiles as the best way to launch astronauts. The question the engineers are still debating is: What is the best way to land them?
Boeing and SpaceX, who are scheduled to send astronauts to the International Space Station next year, are required to respond to two major problems with the ingenuity, economy and technology for space challenges, yet one of the most visible elements of their privately-designed spacecraft will go up deep in the last century: They are shaped like capsules, relying on their blunted shapes and parachutes that delay them from orbit speeds up to 17,000 mph until recently which human inhabitants can survive when they strike the earth's surface.
The space shuttle had to finish all this when it first appeared in 1981, providing airplane comfort during its light flight. And in creating the next generation Space Space SpaceX, at first, it really tried to lean towards the future. Elon Musk and his team pushed for a new kind of dirt that relied on rocket launchers rather than parachutes to slow the ship and stretch legs to balance it when it touched – the so-called drive-on landing. "So a 21st century spacecraft must land," Muskus boasted in 2014 "everywhere on earth with helicopter accuracy." SpaceX has largely coped with the propulsion for its cargo delivery rackets – and impressively, landed on an oceanic barge or back in Cape Canaveral. But such improvements with living astronauts require time and money that NASA does not want to engage in a mission whose key selling point is the economy. At least that is what observers of space are aware of the greedy abandon of Musk's approach in 2017. So the parachutes came out again.
NASA's astronauts have acquired a nostalgic, if not a mythical, shade of half a century. But they were hairy things in real life. Gu Grissom almost drowned after Mercury's second flight in 1961 – a known incident more famous for his inaccurate image in the 1983 film. The right thingsNext year Scott Carpenter landed 250 miles from the course and spent three hours in a rescue boat before saving him from the USS brave,
The adventures of invasion in the campaign continue after the moon missions, even after more than a decade of rapid technological progress. The Skylab missions 4 of 1974 and the Apollo-Soyuz test year later were down in the ocean for a while when heavy seas caught their parachutes and took over the landing port. Apollo-Soyuz's problems were complicated by the exhaust in the cabin, which required the astronauts to catch oxygen masks that were more difficult to reach while they were head-down. Crew member Vance Brandt disappeared during the crash, and one of his crew had to put his mask for him. In both cases inflatable "spheres of straightening" outside the capsule are working as planned. The ships roared to the surface, and the astronauts went relatively unharmed.
Of course there is an alternative to landing at sea: a landing that the Soviet and then the Russian space program does right from the start. The Soyuz spacecraft, first launched in 1967 and still strong, returns to Earth on the vast walls of Kazakhstan. This is not the most comfortable experience, former travelers say. "It's like a series of explosions followed by a catastrophe," says Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut who has returned from Soyuz International Space Station in 2007. "After seven months in space, I do not feel great. "
In 1976, Soyuz encountered a fatal accident when the wind energy capsule drained and touched a partially frozen lake – five kilometers from the shore, at night, in the middle of a blizzard. The rescuers, who reached the partially submerged ship nine hours later, were not worried to open the hatch for two hours because they assumed that the astronauts were frozen to death. Resilient Russians survived, though they never returned again.
However, Lopez-Alegria prefers to return from space to land, given the choice. "The landing of water looks like a giant stomach, so I'm not sure the shot is much smaller," he says. "And then I think I will be happier on shore than to push in the ocean." Ken Bauerscox, another landing veteran in Soyuz, also believes the earth is safer than water. "You can have a rough rush on land and still get out of the vehicle," he notes. "If things do not work well on the water, it can be exciting quite quickly." Describing Bowersox's own introduction of "Sowu" in 2003 as "a bit rough landing" may be an understatement. The capsule cut into a ballistic landing that took him for hundreds of miles. But "we just waited a few hours," he remembers. "Outside, it would be much less comfortable." As far as the impact is concerned, Bowersox compares it with the landing of aircraft carriers who practiced as a fleet pilot. "It draws your attention, but it's no worse than the carnival trip," he says.
NASA has explored landing in different locations before the shuttle, but has rejected it for several reasons. At that time, the agency concluded that the United States did not have enough large, empty, flat territory in the neighboring countries. At least, compared to the open, undifferentiated space of the Kazakh plain, even the southwestern desert could not compete with canyons, plateaus, distant towns, and reserves. Destination targeting was simply not accurate and reliable. What the country had was a huge amount of open water: abundant access to two oceans, a coastal shot, and existing marine infrastructure to extract astronauts from the water.
Another important consideration in these Earth studies is the weight of the spacecraft. The water landing may end with a dip, but the liquid still has little to give; landing requires an additional function to compensate for the rigid stop, such as the retro rockets that Soyuz shoots when it is a few paces from the ground for the last brake in the second before the stroke. This equipment, however, makes a heavier vehicle, and in the early 1960s, NASA's brainwave, pressed for a while, did not think they could raise that weight to the moon (see sidebar).
But technology is improving and goals are changing. So Boeing reconsidered the landing issue when he started designing his Starliner crew around 2010. "Returning to land has an advantage over the sea as there is instant access to the crew and all cargo on board," says Michael McCarlie, Boeing Career who worked on the shuttle on his last flight before moving to the Starliner project as the leading return engineer. But the weight of this type of capsule is still a problem – or, as McCarley calls it, "the mass challenge."
Soyuz may have solved his massive challenge in the year the Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper, but the Russian ship can only sink into three astronauts – half the crew of the space station. One of the keys to the extended vehicle for seven passengers, landing, was to replace these retro-airbags. Starliner will rely on six of them (seventh, in the center, located only for an emergency landing). They are steamed with nitrogen and oxygen like those in the cars but are designed as bicycle tires with discrete inner and outer layers. The outer bag has holes that release the landing pressure while the inner tube remains rigid. Let's hope.
The airbag system is not only lighter than the Soyuz missiles, but it should be easier for bodies that are already exhausted for half a year in space, says McCurley. Ken Bowerox is an enthusiast. "If you look at the stunters jumping from the buildings and landing on airbags, this should be a very reasonable landing," he commented.
Then there's a personal McCarley pet project: the seat. In one way or another, the capsular zone, which returns to Earth under parachutes, slows down the atmosphere by about 4 Gs before the sudden stop, says Lopez-Alegria, who is still sitting at the NASA Human Resources Advisory Board. This compares with the permissible 1.5 Gs for the space shuttle on which it is boarded. But the impact on bodies of astronauts depends literally on where and how it sits. Or lie, in fact, as the human spine column and other vital organs are not designed to swallow 4 Gs in a vertical position. Soyuz passengers are already landing sloping, with a personalized seat. But McCurry decided to improve this with modern ergonomics. He started with a pile of plywood in his garage.
"The general concept of the seat has not changed from the plywood model, but we have added some more advanced materials," says McCurley. The company also adds 3D printing technology to form a complete seat for each Starliner traveler. Given the compact space available, this involved intensive study of types of human organs.
McCarley, who is inclined to the 6th grade, and Starliner engineer Melanie Weber, who is a little shy of five feet, were modeled for the outer limits of the permissible size. Moving deeper into the nuances, engineers worked, ("long hands that can practically reach the capsule," McCarley explains) or "T-Rex" (the broad body with short hands). By designing the range of extremes, the team can better adapt each seat by scanning of the astronaut's body.
The Boeing team also wanted to improve the Soyuz-era parachutes. For reasons lost in the Cold War scientific history, a series of parachutes on the Russian ship – pilot, dredger and finally the main chute – opens on one side of the capsule, followed by the pyrotechnic release of the rigging system that forces a capsule to hang straight down. Lopez-Alegria describes the result as "a very violent movement on the side of the country, like Mr Todd's Wild Ride." Boeing promises to smooth the process with two rains for symmetry, followed by three main chutes for extra stability, let alone a reduction.
Regarding the place where the capsule will be placed, Starlinger's team is more comfortable in their precise landing than at the beginning of NASA engineers. The company has a list of five sites in Western Europe – two on New Mexico's White Sands rocket, Utah's Edward's Doowwood, Edwards in California, and Wilcox Beach in Arizona – of which they will choose first and reserve places a bit before the end of each mission. Ground crew are fighting for long-forgotten telephone pillars and other obstacles and conducting extensive environmental and cultural studies to ensure astronaut safety and integrity on the ground. For example, the Dwungay exploratory site was created by the World War II army to test chemical and biological weapons, and has also been the archaeological treasure of 13,000 years of archeological finds.
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While the field engineers thought hard about the earth's details of dropping their hard-landed capsule, SpaceX began its work by dreaming of Mars. In January 2011, the company released a futuristic 15-second video clip depicting a staggered trapezoidal spacecraft that makes a non-stop vertical landing without a parachute floating on flames fired from the four corners of its base at an angle of approximately 30 degrees. Elon Musk, in the voice, described it as "a landing gear, something like that [how Apollo 11’s] The eagle landed on the moon. "It looked very cool.
But those SuperDraco firemen, who later called them Muk, were targeting more than pulling out the 14,000-pound "Crew Dragon" pouch on a helicopter pad all over the Earth. SpaceX insisted they could bring a safe ship of similar mass to the surface of Mars, where the atmosphere is too thin to land something of this parachute weight. The heaviest object that has fallen to date is NASA's "Rover for Curiosity", which has about a seventh of this mass and, of course, not a brittle human traveler.
SpaceX introduced a prototype of the Crew Dragon in 2014 with great hopes for its prospects on two planets. In 2016 he published a test model video that stood confidently a few yards across a Texas platform. Then Musk shouted. While the Dragon team is technically still capable of landing, a space research and development conference at the space station in July 2017 would have been "making a huge effort to qualify for safety." The capsule still carries SuperDraco engines, but they should only be used in the event of abortion (see "Abort!" / October / November 2018.) A routine dragon crew movement seems to be designed to become a footnote for the history of the study, although SpaceX continues to work on technology for its other vehicles, including BFR Next Generation Rocket – Still Untested Spacecraft a bus that promises to revozi to 100 passengers to the moon or beyond. Plataea first client for this trip, the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezava was announced in September.
Fortunately, the company had proven Plan B to send the crew to the space station. While SpaceX was engaged in the futuristic ship crew system, as this magazine went to press its cargo ship, it quietly completed 15 successful missions to and from the space station, the capsule spraying without incident. So far, the company has reapplied four of the capsules despite the shuttle.
The crew dragon is about 50% heavier than the load model, so SpaceX compensates the extra mass with a system of four parachutes that are released symmetrically over the vehicle and offer greater density than the classic triangle that unfolds above the capsules 60s. More than Boeing's Starliner, the company statement implies: "The Crew Dragon Parachute System is the most effective system ever designed for packing density and aerodynamic braking performance."
An even more noticeable difference from the previous days will be the modest SpaceX fleet, which will benefit from the Dragon's astronauts at sea. Published plans require a single 164-foot vessel Go to the Searcher, with the support of several inflatable boats that can maneuver nearer to the capsule that has fallen. Best of all, Go to the Searcher will be equipped with a helicopter to transport astronauts quickly on shore if needed.
This is a dramatic contrast to the fleet of US Navy ships that have evaporated to meet space travelers in the 1960s and 1970s. Not less than 24 naval vessels await the scattering of John Glenn after the first orbital flight of the United States in 1962, with the Air Force's impatient reserve. Разтоварванията станаха по-точни обаче, а посрещащата партия падна на четири кораба от последния полет на Аполон Луната през 1972 г. Така че екипажът на SpaceX, който бе свален, не е толкова минималистичен, колкото изглежда. (Компанията има по-сложна система, чрез партньорство с военновъздушните сили, за възстановяване на астронавтите след аборт.)
SpaceX е също така предразположен да се стреми да разшири технологията си за повторно използване на екипажа Dragon. Екипът е натрупал богат опит в областта на хидроизолацията и предотвратяването на корозията, като по този начин оформи четири от своите товарни кораби. Но в момента SpaceX е одобрен само за да летят екипаж с нови космически кораби, създавайки някаква иронична ситуация, при която архиперест Боинг пуска многократно капсула преди SpaceX. Ракетните наблюдатели се досещат, че задържането ще бъде временно.
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Човешкото космическо поле неминуемо включва обитаване на най-лошите сценарии. "Винаги мисля, има ли нещо скрито, което не знаем?", Казва Майк МакКърли от Boeing. "Погледнах ли зад всяка врата и в гърба на всеки килер? Това е вид лична невроза, но също така и професионална невроза. "От началото на 60-те години на миналия век човешката космическа полет също така включва неизбежни закъснения и разочароващи корекции в средата на курса – от оздравяването само инженерите могат да се докоснат до построяването на цели обещаващи системи подобно на схемата за задвижване на SpaceX. В началото на програмата мисиите на търговските екипажи бяха оптимистично насочени за 2015 г. В момента те се стремят към средата на 2019 г.
Нито едно от тези неща не трябва да затъмнява факта, че частните изпълнители непрекъснато печелят доверие от НАСА и от астронавтите от миналото и бъдещето, независимо от начина, по който се стремят. – За мен не ми пука. И двамата ще работят ", заключава Кен Боуъроу. "Спускането на сушата или морето е нещо повече от икономическо решение."
Нито закъсненията в програмите обръщат ясна посока: полетите на търговските екипажи, системите за ретро кацане и всички посочват пътя към вълнуваща нова глава в космическите изследвания, където частни компании предприемат футуристични проекти от добива на астероиди до колонизацията на Марс. "Това е революционно в много отношения", казва Лопес-Алегриа. "Това е първият път, когато правителството развърза юздите на това, което размери да използва. Това ще бъде нещо като ренесанс. "Това е врата, която той и много други искат да минат. Сегашният концерт на Lopez-Alegria е ръководител на бизнеса за Axiom Space, който иска да построи частно финансиран наследник на космическата станция с прогнозна цена от $ 1,5 милиарда.
Но първо ще дойдат новите търговски превозни средства и техните драматични парашути връщат – не само на Земята, а за пръв път в продължение на почти десетилетие, в собствената си страна.