SpaceX SpX-29 docks with the International Space Station with a new flag

SpaceX SpX-29 docks with the International Space Station with a new flag

Cargo Dragon C211 (SpX-29) is about to dock with the Harmony module. Credit: NASA Johnson via Flickr

Last November 11, the International Space Station witnessed the docking of the two vehicles Cargo Dragon C211 For the 29th SpaceX mission (SPX-29) In the context of Commercial resupply services NASA to support the site that departed two days earlier from the Kennedy Space Center. American astronauts Yasmine Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara supervised the automated approach of the refueling vehicle, and were ready to intervene if the situation called for it. About 200 meters from the goal, one of the support computers (SSC) Computer support station) in use in the dome suddenly restarted. Thanks to perfect teamwork with the Mission Control Center in Houston, it was possible to configure for this purpose one of the computers of the Destiny standby station, usually used on training courses, from which the Cargo Dragon’s telemetry could be monitored, receiving video signals or perhaps Giving commands to the vehicle.

Despite the inconvenience, docking at Harmony’s forward docking port was regularly completed at 11:07 a.m. here in Italy, ahead of schedule. For crew Mission 70 This is the second support mission for the US sector, following the arrival of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG-19 aircraft in August. The mission, in addition to giving the astronauts what they need according to the activities scheduled for the next few months, has the function of returning to Earth the scientific studies carried out in recent weeks, and is the only cargo vehicle so far (pending the Dream Chaser of Sierra Space) designed to overcome re-entry. to the atmosphere. In this way, the science conducted in microgravity becomes available again to the researchers, research institutes and relevant laboratories on Earth that conducted the study, so that the conclusions on which scientific research is based can be drawn. However, for NASA, there is the possibility of returning equipment from the outpost for refurbishment, either because it is defective or because it is functional but undergoing scheduled maintenance, and then returned to orbit.

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from a report From NASA on the mission There are approximately 2,950 kilograms of payload crammed into the hold and in the unpressurized outer section of Cargo Dragon, a mass derived largely from scientific investigations and technology demonstrations. Among these are listed Illuma-T Which goes hand in hand with the project LCRD – Laser communication relay display – Launched in 2021 As part of a satellite within the framework of the space test program of the US Department of Defense located in geosynchronous orbit. NASA wants to prove the feasibility of two-way laser communications between two stations in space and send the signal to receiving stations on Earth. The use of laser technology, with an invisible infrared light beam, compared to traditional communications systems with a wireless link, has the ability to transmit more data, images and videos in each single transmission. Moreover, the system is lighter and more compact in terms of weight and size, requires less energy for operation and can therefore be allocated to other useful loads. As a result, this plays an important role in robotic missions to the Moon and Mars, where improving mass and communications efficiency is even more important than in low Earth orbit.

ILLUMA-T extraction process from the non-pressurized handle with the help of a Dextre manipulator (attached to the end of the Canadarm2) and a Japanese robotic arm.

With SpaceX SpX-29, ESA’s Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen is in charge of delivering the mission Hydrophilic membrane-3an evolution of the study he first conducted in 2015 during the short-lived mission Iris It is now proposed again for Hugin. The operating principles are the same as the previous ones: using special proteins called proteins to filter the water aquaporins They are found in nature in some cells and tissues, for example in kidneys and vacuole membranes of plant cells whose purpose is to regulate water flow by osmosis. Current water filtration and filtration systems are large, heavy, require frequent maintenance to replace filters, and last but not least, consume a lot of energy.

Danish company Aquaporin Space Alliance He has patented the technology being tested: a membrane composed of aquaporin proteins embedded in hollow fibers. As a result of direct osmosis, aquaporin allows water to pass between the two membrane interfaces, but prevents ions and other contaminants from crossing at the molecular level with an electrostatic charge. The upside is that the membrane is less likely to become clogged than a microscopic mesh filter. Furthermore, maintenance intervals will be lengthened, without compromising stability over time. This is useful in space exploration missions or in hostile situations on Earth, think emergency situations after a disaster or in difficult locations.

Hydrophilic membrane-3 Waiting to be uploaded to Cargo Dragon. Credit: European Space Agency

Among recurring studies conducted at home and abroad, the ISS sees bacteria and the characterization of surface-dwelling species as champions. Recreating in the laboratory the sum of radiation effects and their change over time (months, years, decades) on microorganisms is not possible. It is well established that the immune system of astronauts in microgravity is more vulnerable than on Earth, and this is due to the concern to ensure the most sterile and safe environment possible so that the person’s health is not compromised. This does not mean that there are no threats to the body! Microbes and pathogens lurk on surfaces despite the precautions taken. Boeing in cooperation with ISS National Laboratory and other partners, they will compare the bacterial load on the most common coatings found on spacecraft with comparison samples treated with an antibacterial polymer coating.

source: NASA

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