Un cargo Cygnus. En service depuis 2013, ce cargo a été conçu pour transporter du fret dont une partie pressurisée. Depuis cette date plusieurs améliorations ont été apportées dont la fonction « reboost » que la Nasa vient de tester. © Nasa

NASA has found a solution to raise the space station without Russia’s help

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[EN VIDÉO] ISS: Until 2030 and beyond?
The International Space Station will continue to welcome astronauts from all over the world for science missions until 2030. And to support missions of space conquest that must take humans to the moon and even to Mars. (in English) © NASA

Relations with Russia, and there is little chance that this will improve in the near future, NASA and its Western and Japanese partners are forced to find an alternative to the Russian Progress cargo ships used for “steering”. orbital complex.

However, disengagement with Russia is not on the agenda, nor is NASA’s preferred scenario at the moment. But, if there is no indication that Russia can carry out the threats of Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, then NASA is obliged to take this uncertain situation into account.

Since the withdrawal European ATVs (Automated Transfer Vehicle to Automated Transfer Vehicle), Progress cargo ships are the only vehicles used to raise the orbit of the International Space Station and correct its course to Avoid debris for example. The other two cargo ships in service, the Dragon from SpaceX and Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus and Thales Alenia Space, were not designed for this very specific mission.

Apparently, only the Cygnus cargo ship could replace the Russian advance. Among the improvements that have been made to Cygnus since it entered service in 2013 is the “reboost” function. So in condition because, for now, Cygnus hasn’t been shown to be able to perform this very important maneuver. Without a regular boost, the orbit International Space Station It’s going down relentlessly, week by week.

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Apparently decisive maneuver

NASA and Northrop Grumman have teamed up to test Cygnus’ ability to levitate the International Space Station. It’s not the first time this has happened swan It is used this way. In July 2018, Cygnus ignited its engine for about fifty seconds, raising the station’s height by 86 metres. A critical but insufficient maneuver to qualify the cargo ship for this task.

This test demonstrated Cygnus’ ability to raise the station’s orbit

A new attempt occurred on June 26. This time, the maneuver lasted longer. Cygnus moored at the station ran its engine for 301 seconds in excess rock bottom From the station about 0.8 km and so on apex Approximately 0.2 km. This test demonstrated Cygnus’ ability to raise the station’s orbit. The maneuver was successful. At least that’s the view of Steve Keren, Vice President, Civil and Commercial Space, Tactical Space Systems at Northrop Grumman who noted that ” Boosting the ISS with Cygnus adds essential space station flight capability “.

NASA has not communicated about the maneuver. So it’s too early to say whether future Cygnus trucks can be used as a complement or alternative to Russian Progress. In addition, the future of these compounds is somewhat uncertain! In fact, the Antares, the rocket launcher, uses the Russian RD-181 engine in its main stage, which is under a Ukrainian major contract. However, since the invasion of Ukraine before Russia, these two items are not available. However, Northrop Grumman confirmed that it had two Antares operational bombers and had a “contingency plan” after those two bombers, but gave no further details. to continue after that.

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NASA is urgently looking for a solution to test the space station without Russia

Article from Remy Decor Published on 05/03/2022

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman cargo ships, which supply International Space StationCould it be used to drive the orbital complex? So far, NASA has never bothered to find an alternative solution in the event that the Russians, the only ones capable of driving it, decide to abandon the station to its fate. Although Russian-American space relations always resist storms Past geopolitics, with the conflict in Ukraine, were nowhere near divided. Therefore, there is an urgent need for NASA to answer this question in the affirmative and find out how.

NASA wants to be far-sighted. In the event that Russian-American relations reach the point of no return, Russia ” Can withdraw from the International Space Station As Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, aptly said.

Obviously, Dmitry Rogozin did not say that he would offer the space station to the United States, but hinted that he could leave the Russian part deserted.

However, while the American side provides electricity and life support for the entire orbital complex, the Russians are responsible for propulsion, maintaining the ISS at an altitude of about 400 km, attitude control and course corrections.

Without progress in piloting it, the station’s orbit would be declining relentlessly, week after week.

For this, they use Progress cargo ships, one of which is permanently docked in the Zvezda unit. Without progress in piloting it, the station’s orbit would be declining relentlessly, week after week. He will also not be able to correct his path to Avoid debris for example.

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In this very ambiguous context, and although Russia is still cooperating with NASA for the smooth operation of the space station, NASA has decided to study emergency solutions to try it out. In case the Russians decided to leave him to his fate overnight.

American cargo ships maneuvering to command the station?

Northrop Grumman, which supplies the station with the Cygnus cargo ship (whose unit was built by Thales Alenia Space) and SpaceX that does the same with dragon shipHe suggested that NASA “do the job.” However, if the industrialists’ cargo ships could be transformed and adapted to the ISS’s “retransmission” mission to raise its orbit, it should be known that the docking ports of American cargo ships are in a very bad position to do so. the mission.!

dock Across ports least developed countries units of unity and harmonyCompact Mating Transformers) Equipped with an active CBM system for cargo pickup. This is also the reason whyEuropean Space Agency ATV It docked at the same place where the Russian cargo ships Progress docked to board the station’s orbit.

It will be interesting to see the solutions suggested by Northrop Grumman and especially those of SpaceX when we know thatElon Musk He always has very original and daring ideas!

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