MAI student designs a space activity capsule

18 March 2021

    It was exactly 56 years ago, on the 18th of March, 1965, when the USSR cosmonaut Alexey Leonov carried out the exit to the open space for the very first time in the history of mankind. In subsequent years, spacewalking became an integral part of the cosmonauts’ work, being at the same time one of the most complex and physically challenging tasks for a human.

    Auxiliary devices, such as sealed capsules designed for one or more people, might make work in space much easier. NASA experts are busy with the development of such equipment (FlexCraft, SEV). Applying their experience, the 5th course student of the Institute No. 6 "Aerospace" Anastasia Bychkova is currently working on her own concept of a small spacecraft to perform various orbit operations.

    Mobility and security

    Today soft spacesuits are now used for the open space. Every movement in such a protective suit requires a lot of energy to overcome the pressure that is experienced from the inside. In addition, the atmosphere with an increased oxygen content is maintained in the spacesuit, and a long-term respiratory training is required before going outside to the open space. After returning onboard, the cosmonaut needs at least one day of rest in order to recover.

    “The capsule will solve several tasks at once,” says Anastasia Bychkova. “First of all, it will be able to deliver astronaut to the place of work and might become a more maneuverable alternative to the manipulators that are used today. Secondly, the device will save time spent for space exit preparation, because the cosmonaut will breathe the same air as to that on the board of the station. Thirdly, the outside activity will be performed with the help of the manipulators installed, which means there would be no significant physical effort application and long rest required afterwards."

    In addition to the abovementioned advantages, the capsule will be less dangerous from the point of view of the accidental depressurization, it will increase the work time and the range of tasks performed in space.

    Five hands are better than two

    Anastasia has already defined the configuration and the main structural materials of the device. According to her idea, it will be in a form of a cylinder with five manipulators for various purposes. The radius of the working part will be 1 m, height is 2 m, and the mass of the device will be up to 700 kg. When not used, the capsule will be docked to the orbital station.

    “In order to dock the hermetic capsule to the space station and for the transportation of different objects two manipulator 10 m length each will be applied", says the girl. “For technological operations the capsule is equipped with three two-meter accurate manipulators. On the first one the equipment for welding, soldering and coating will be installed, on the second there will be the revolving head with various tools, and on the third there will be the usual grip to work with the connections and other operations. The working manipulators will be equipped with a monochrome television camera, backlit and data exchange systems."

    The device is planned to be equipped with the guidance, navigation and stabilization systems, power supply and thermostat, ensuring vital activity and emergency salvation, radio-electronic equipment. The illuminators and cameras of the outside review with the transfer of the image to the screens both inside of the device and to the station are provided.

    It is assumed that not only the cosmonaut himself will be able to control it, but also its colleagues from the board of the orbital station, and the experts at the flight management center.

    Transport system for the delivery of the device to the target orbit is also now being developed. Working on the project, Anastasia received the mass-dimensional characteristics of the carrier rocket and simulated the flight program.

    To Moon and Mars

    According to Viktor Beregovoy, the Associate Professor of the Department of 601 "Space Systems and Rocket Magnification" of the Moscow Aviation Institute, Anastasia Bychkova’s project has great prospects.

    “From the point of view of the development of cosmonautics, such devices are of great interest”, he says. “You can use them not only for the needs of the ISS, but also for many other tasks implementation. For instance, they might be used to maintain, repair, retrofit satellites, conducting research works, such as the research of the asteroids, garbage cleaning in orbit, etc. At the end of last year American and European space agencies NASA and ESA signed the agreement on the joint construction of the lunar orbital station, so there will always be work in the open space of that kind to do.”

    As Anastasia notes, the need for the device that is capable to perform complex operations in orbit grows every year.

    “The list of possible variants of the application of the device grows longer and longer: technological processes Moon and Mars exploration, assembly and installation work during the creation of large space objects, transportation of goods, rescue operations in space, and so on,” lists the student. “I am sure that humanity will continue to explore the outer space, and maybe I am able to contribute to the future success.”

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