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Space Exploration Achievements: Falcon 9 Rocket Ignites Historic Firsts on ISS

In the introductory video report, you can watch the ignition of the rocket engines, which signals several firsts in the history of space exploration. On board the International Space Station (ISS), with the help of this mission, robotic surgeons, 3D metal printing or autonomous semiconductor production can be tested for the first time.

You can listen to and view information and footage in the introductory video report.

The Falcon 9 rocket and the Cygnus cargo ship on top of it also won their first place. They took off together for the first time from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday at 18:07 CET.

The Californian manufacturer of aircraft and space technology Northrop Grumman (NG) has until now used its own Antares launch vehicles. The last type 230+ was able to lift the ship weighing up to five tons into orbit to a height of 200 kilometers, and from there it approached the ISS by itself, which then captured and anchored it with the CanadArm 2 mechanical arm.

“The ground center and the crew up here did an amazing job. The craft itself was as stable as it could be – I’m not aware of any hiccups, so it was a really great day,” astronaut and flight engineer Michael Hopkins described the first Cygnus docking with the ISS on October 29, 2013, a decade ago.

The threat of space primaries by Russia

The Russo-Ukrainian war changed that. The first stages of the missiles of the American armory were produced in Ukraine and used Russian RD-180 engines, the export of which was banned by the authorities after the Russian attack.

How did space exploration change Russia’s attack? The Czechs also paid extra

A similar fate to Northrop Grumman and its Antares rockets befell another American company, United Launch Alliance (ULA) – a joint venture between the aircraft manufacturer Boeing and the arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Russian RD-180 engines were also used by his Atlas and Delta models, which carried spy satellites into space for the US Air Force and were also key in a number of NASA missions, for example to Mars or the Sun.

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NG has therefore concluded a contract with the Texas company Firefly Aerospace, from which it will purchase the first stages of its Beta rockets under development with Reaver engines, and use them to manufacture its new Antares 330 type. this year and next, Northrop Grumman must launch its cargo ships on top of the Falcon 9.

The Cygnus itself didn’t need much modification. SpaceX, however, had to add a new hatch measuring 1.5 by 1.2 meters to the aerodynamic cover of its rocket carrier so that time-sensitive cargo could be loaded at the last minute shortly before launch. It is not yet publicly known what exactly it is, it will most likely be of an organic nature, but SpaceX, NG and NASA have not made its essence a secret.

The first 3D metal printing in space

And now, finally, to the payload of the Swan on top of the Hawk, i.e. the NG-20 mission to the ISS.

It’s about 3.7 again cargo, of which 1.1 tons are supplies for the crew and another 1.2 tons are hardware for the station and equipment for spacewalks. Scientific experiments make up the largest part, i.e. 1.3 tons of cargo. Among the scientific payloads, three special instruments received a lot of attention.

“We have a 3D metal printer there, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). It will print small steel components that will be returned to Earth to compare the structural differences between those printed in space and those printed on Earth,” Meghan Everett, NASA’s representative for science experiments on the ISS, said in an introductory video report.

A printer called Metal3D for ESA was helped to produce the European aircraft and space company Airbus. It can work with metals that melt at temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Celsius and will be the first such device on the International Space Station. The American company Made in Space, for example, has already delivered a 3D printer to the ISS, but it printed from plastic. According to manufacturers from Europe, the metal one could help astronauts print various tools, as well as shields against radiation, and its use goes much further.

“The reason we’re doing this is that when we’re talking about space vehicles for long-term missions that won’t be able to carry supplies, we’ll have to be able to print small components in space to preserve their integrity over time,” adds the scientist.

Robosurgeon in orbit controlled from Earth

Another of the three main experiments is a robot weighing less than a kilogram, roughly as long as a human forearm, which houses two controllable arms – one with a vice at the end and the other with scissors. Developed by Virtual Incision from Nebraska, USA, it is expected to be the first robotic surgeon sent into space.

“We will investigate the ability to perform an operation in space, but which will be controlled by doctors on Earth. And don’t worry, we won’t be operating directly on astronauts just yet. We will use rubber strips that mimic human tissue. This way we can test things like the delay in communication and see how we can handle these small actions in space,” describes another of the experiments, Meghan Everett from NASA.

“It has great benefits on Earth too – for remote areas with hard-to-reach care, or where we don’t have that kind of practice. We hope that the results of the experiment will be transferable from space to Earth,” adds the representative of the office’s department overseeing scientific experiments on the ISS.

Better semiconductors and components from ISS than from factories

And thirdly, it is a platform on which the US National Laboratory and NASA want to test the possibilities of semiconductor production in space. It will begin by examining how microgravity affects thin surface layers, or films, that have a wide range of applications – from energy harvesting to advanced sensor technology. It is a so-called MSTIC experiment, i.e. Manufacturing of Semiconductors and Thin-Film Integrated Coatings.

“We will look at 3D printing of semiconductors and other crystalline structures in space and compare the structural integrity of pieces printed in space with those made on Earth. There is preliminary data showing that we can actually make better products in space than on Earth, which would lead to better electronics in power-producing capability. It would be a huge advantage to be able to print these products in space and bring them to Earth,” adds Everett from NASA in the video report.

The Cygnus ship and the entire cargo of the NG-20 mission should arrive at the ISS on Thursday, February 1, around a quarter to ten in the morning CET.

Moving people, industry and healthcare into space

The ultimate goal of private companies and NASA is to transfer the production of any necessary parts and entire machines into space. Airbus for example he claims, that within four years he wants to use larger 3D printers to build entire satellites from space debris in orbit. And Blue Origin said it made the first photovoltaics from moon dust.

And within already more than 3000 experiments since 2000, they have been trying to grow different crops on the station and also observed the effect of weightlessness on living organisms, including humans. As shown by the first robo-surgeon on board the Cygnus ship, people would also like to get the option of complete medical care in space, without which longer missions such as to the Moon and the Gateway lunar orbital station as part of the Artemis program or even to Mars are indispensable.

2024-01-30 17:29:47
#robosurgeon #controlled #Earth #metal #printer #fly #space #News #List

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