Since in the tasks of the AmericanNASA Aerospace Agency is worth a man's return to the moon, the department is trying with all its might to make this return as safe and prepared as possible. Not so long ago, we reported the launch of the 23rd NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) mission, in which astronauts will live and work for several days at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida in a special underwater laboratory, conducting research and verification of technology that the agency is going to use in the lunar missions since 2024. So, within the framework of this expedition, NASA, together with the European Space Agency, are conducting tests of a new prototype of a special device, which will be entrusted with the serious task of saving people on the Moon in case of such a need.
Because the ocean floor is the perfectanalogue of the environment, which allows to simulate not only activities on the lunar surface, but also in general in space, many aerospace agencies have resorted to the practice of training their astronauts under water. NASA uses the Aquarius underground laboratory, located at a depth of 19 meters 5.5 kilometers off the coast of South Florida, to prepare its astronauts for future flights to the Earth’s satellite.
Why is it difficult to raise a fallen man on the moon?
The European Space Agency has developedprototype of the Lunar Evacuation System Assembly (LESA, “Lunar Evacuation System”), which allows one person to lift a wounded astronaut from the lunar surface and move with him in low gravity conditions, then lay on a stretcher for further transportation to a lunar module with normal atmospheric pressure.
The whole process of deploying a special folding pyramidal structure with wheels, special wheel stretchers, as well as fixing an early crew member on them takes less than 10 minutes.
Tests of the LESA device during the NEEMO 23 mission
Space suits designed to work outside a spacecraft or a landing module are very cumbersome, inconvenient, and quite severely limit the possibility of movement, they say in ESA.
"Under no circumstances an astronaut,dressed in a spacesuit to work in space, will not be able to carry a wounded colleague on his shoulders. Our task is to develop a method that will allow us to perform all the necessary rescue actions inside such a spacesuit, ”comments Herve Stevenin, head of the ESA training program for spacewalks.
"The LESA device can be transported asgolf course, then quickly deployed next to the fallen astronaut, so that with the help of a lifting mechanism it can be quickly lifted onto a stretcher, which is very easy to use even alone. Having fixed the wounded astronaut on a stretcher, the rescuer will be able to quickly deliver him to a safe place, ”adds the engineer.
Early device prototype testedESA experts with the participation of European Space Agency astronaut Pedro Duque and NASA astronaut Chella Norwood Lindgren in 2017 as part of the NEEMO mission 22.
The participants of the NEEMO 23 mission, in whose group alsoSamantha Cristoforetti (ESA) and Jessica Watkins (NASA), two astronauts, are joining this week to test a new version of the LESA device. To test the device, Cristoforetti and Watkins use space suits that imitate suits for working in space and impede movement.
“ESA participates in the NASA NEEMO program inover the past eight years. Both agencies share the idea and the desire to return man to the moon by 2024, so working together and testing new technologies within the framework of the NEEMO 23 mission opens the way to potential future joint projects between our space agencies, ”adds Stevenin.
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