BUT presented a new test platform for terrestrial simulations of space missions
At the Get-together: Analogue missions event, which deals with the topic of analog missions - the simulation of missions in any foreign environment, i.e. on another planet, Vratislav Šálený presented the new HELP habitat, of which BUT played a significant role in its design. Dr. Šálený has been designing habitats or means to ensure the life of astronauts in inhospitable extreme environments for thirteen years, and is a member of the team that developed the first European SHEE self-expanding habitat.
Habitats represent the central means of securing the life of astronauts in an inhospitable extreme environment - from as small as an astronaut's space suit to a space station for the entire crew. These habitats also require a multidisciplinary connection of several scientific fields: mathematics, engineering, architecture, electronics, information technology, chemistry and others. The habitats are then tested on analogue missions, i.e. simulated missions replicating the stay and activities of human crews in extreme environments, like the ones on the surface of extraterrestrial bodies.
The SHEE Habitat is an analog test bed for terrestrial simulations of space missions. SHEE was developed with the goal of easy transportability to a mission site. When collapsed, it is the size of a standard Euro shipping container and has the ability to automatically unfold, increasing the volume size of the habitat by a ratio of 2:1. It provides enough space for a crew of two. The total living volume is approximately 50 m2 and is based on current NASA/ESA studies which assume 20-25 m2 per person. It is equipped with internal facilities that allow for different uses and activities, including sleeping cabins, a work area, a multi-functional common area, a hygiene department and a small workshop.
The weight of the SHEE habitat is approximately 6 tons. Therefore, another addition to the HELP project habitat family was developed with less than half the weight and a better than 5:1 unfolded to packed ratio. These parameters further improve the compatibility and transportability of the habitat.
Analog missions abroad
Companies incubated at ESA BIC Czech Republic – startups such as Hydronaut, ICEE.Space or Entrant – subsequently presented themselves at the event. Other contributions from foreign participants showed that Europe and the world are currently experiencing a boom in interest in space activities in the field of manned flights, which was apparently started by the Artemis program with the aim of returning people to the moon. The dynamically developing interest in analog missions is also related to this program. One of the most interesting contributions was given, for example, by analog astronaut and director of the Austrian Space Forum (OEWF) Dr. Gernot Grömer and director of LunAres Research Station Leszek Orzechowski.
In his presentation, Gernot Grömer talked about the OEWF analog missions carried out in representative environments faithfully imitating the surface of the planet Mars. In particular, these were the missions: MARS 2013 in the northern Sahara near Erfoud in Morocco, AMADEE-18 in the Arabian desert in Oman and AMADEE-20 in the Negev desert in Israel. He emphasized that these missions are an excellent tool to gain operational experience and understand the benefits and limitations of remote science operations on other planetary bodies.
Leszek Orzechowski presented the LunAres Research Station built within the emergency hangar at the former Piła military airfield in Poland. He stated that the general goal of LunAres is to create a research platform for scientific and technological development in the field of manned space exploration, in which research experts from the fields of: extreme medicine, psychology, biotechnology, robotics and engineering, sociology, architecture and others participate in research.
Both experts showed that in neighboring Austria and in neighboring Poland they are engaged in analogue missions at a really high scientific level, although these countries are far from being among the big contributors to the ESA budget, such as France, Germany or Italy.
The organizer of the event was ESA BIC Czech Republic, whose operator is the CzechInvest agency. Its goal was to connect the research community and institutions with companies and startups that are already involved or are interested in dealing with the topic of analog missions. It is clear from this international meeting that the main driving force behind the development of analog missions are young people, who see in them a new interesting topic and apparently also a new hope. As one of the participants remarked during the event: "Perhaps all this in connection with climate change will be useful here on Earth."
|Author||Mgr. Jana Vyklická|