NASA has found a solution to elevate the Space Station without Russian help

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[EN VIDÉO] ISS: until 2030, and after?
The International Space Station will continue to welcome astronauts from around the world for scientific missions until 2030. And to support space conquest missions that should take humans to the Moon and even Mars. (in English) © NASA

Relationships are what they are with Russia, and with little chance that they will improve in the near future, NASA and its partners in the West and Japan have been forced to find an alternative to the Russian Progress cargo ships used for “drive» to orbital complex.

As such, secession from Russia is not on the agenda, nor is the scenario favored by NASA at the moment. However, if there is no indication that Russia could handle the threats of Dmitri Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, NASA is obliged to consider it an uncertain situation.

Since the withdrawal of European ATVs (ATV for automatic transfer vehicle), Progress cargo ships are the only vehicles used to elevate the ISS orbit and correct its trajectory to avoid debris for example. The other two cargo ships in service, the Dragon from SpaceX and the Cygnus from Northrop Grumman and Thales Alenia Space, were not designed for this specific task.

Apparently only the Cygnus freighter can replace the Russian Progress. Among the improvements Cygnus has made since its entry into the service in 2013, there is a “reboost” function. So on condition because, so far, Cygnus has not shown that it can perform this very important maneuver. If there is no regular uplift, the orbit of the International Space Station fall uncontrollably, every week.

An obviously conclusive maneuver

NASA and Northrop Grumman are working together to test Cygnus ’ability to lift the ISS. This is not the first time Cygnus used in this way. In July 2018, a Cygnus ignited its engine for about fifty seconds, raising the altitude of the Station to 86 meters. A conclusive maneuver but not sufficient to qualify the cargo for this task.

This test demonstrates Cygnus’ ability to elevate the station’s orbit

A new test took place on June 26. This time, the maneuver took longer. Cygnus landed at the station running its engine for 301 seconds adding perigee from the station about 0.8 km and its apogee almost 0.2 km. This test demonstrates Cygnus’ ability to elevate the station’s orbit. The maneuver was successful. At least that’s the opinion of Steve Krein, Vice President, Civil and Commercial Space, Tactical Space Systems at Northrop Grumman who points out that “ this ISS boost using Cygnus adds a significant ability to fly the space station “.

NASA did not communicate the maneuver. So it’s too early to say whether future Cygnus shipments could be used as a complement or replacement to Russia’s Progress. Plus, the future of these cars is uncertain! In fact, Antares, their designated launcher, is using Russia’s RD-181 engine for its main phase, which is under the main Ukrainian contractor. However, since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, these two things are not applicable. However, Northrop Grumman confirmed that it has two operational Antares launchers and that it has a “contingency plan” after these two launchers, but did not provide further details. Proceed then.

NASA is urgently looking for a solution to pilot the Space Station without Russia

Article on Remy Decourt published on 05/03/2022

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman cargo ships, which supply international space station, can it be used to pilot the orbital complex? To date, NASA has never bothered to find a replacement solution when the Russians, the only ones able to pilot it, decided to leave the Station to its fate. Even if Russian-American space relations have always resisted storms in the past geopolitics, with the conflict in Ukraine, they have never been so close to disintegration. So there is a certain urgency for NASA to answer this question positively and to see how.

NASA wants far-sightedness. In the event that Russia-American relations reach the point of no return, Russia ” can depart from the International Space Station as Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, aptly put it.

Dmitri Rogozin clearly did not say he would plan the Space Station in the United States, but hinted that he could leave the Russian side.

However, while the American side provides electricity and life support to the entire orbital complex, the Russians are responsible for operating, maintaining the ISS at an altitude of nearly 400 kilometers and controlling behavior and corrections. of course.

Without Progress to pilot it, the Station’s orbit would go down uncontrollably, every week.

For this, they use Progress payloads, one of which is permanently attached to the Zvezda module. Without Progress to pilot it, the Station’s orbit would go down uncontrollably, every week. It is also unable to correct its trajectory avoid debris for example.

In this uncertain context, and even if Russia is still cooperating with NASA for the smooth operation of the Space Station, NASA has decided to study emergency solutions to pilot it. In case the Russians decide to leave him to his fate all night.

Are American cargoes maneuvering to pilot the station?

Northrop Grumman, which supplies the station to the Cygnus cargo ship (whose module was built by Thales Alenia Space) and SpaceX doing the same as his dragon loader, NASA suggested “do the job”. However, if the cargoes of the two industrialists can be modified and adapted to a “reboost” mission of the ISS to elevate its orbit, it should be noted that the ports of call for cargoes in America is too bad a location to make it. work.!

They prayed by the ports LDCs Unity and Harmony modules (Pressurized Mating Adapter) is equipped with an active CBM system to capture shipments. This is also the reason why theATV of the European Space Agency landed at the same place as the Russian Progress cargoes to ascend into the orbit of the Station.

It will be interesting to see the solutions proposed by Northrop Grumman and especially at SpaceX if we know thatElon Musk always have original and daring ideas!

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