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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 come up with a solution to lift the space station without Russia’s help

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[EN VIDÉO] ISS: Until 2030 and beyond?
The International Space Station will welcome astronauts from around the world for scientific missions until 2030. It will also support space missions that will take humans to the Moon and Mars. (In English) © NASA

Relations with Russia are unlikely to improve in the near future, forcing NASA and its Western and Japanese allies to find alternatives to Russian development cargo ships. Orbital complex.

Disengagement from Russia is not on the agenda, nor is it currently the preferred scenario for NASA. But if there is no indication that Russia will be able to carry out the threats of Dmitri Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA is obliged to take this uncertainty into account.

Since withdrawn European ATVs (ATV for Automated Transfer Vehicle), only progress cargo ships are used to raise the ISS orbit and correct its trajectory. Avoid littering For example. The other two cargo ships in service, Dragon from SpaceX and Northrop Grumman and Cygnus from Thales Alenia Space, were not designed for this specific mission.

Apparently, only the Cygnus cargo ship could reverse the Russian advance. Among the improvements made since Cygnus entered service in 2013 is the “ReBoost” function. Conditional, because Cygnus has yet to demonstrate that it can perform this oh-so-important maneuver. Orbit, without the usual boost International Space Station Week by week inevitably falls.

Obviously the last trick

NASA and Northrop Grumman are teaming up 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 station’s altitude by 86 meters. A solid maneuver, but not enough to qualify a freighter for this task.

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

A new attempt took place on June 26. This time, the intrigue lasted longer. Cygnus remained on station and turned on its engines for 301 seconds Perigee About 0.8 km from the station and its apogee Almost 0.2 km. The test demonstrated Cygnus’ ability to raise the station’s orbit. The ruse succeeded. That’s according to Steve Green, vice president of tactical space systems, civil and commercial space at Northrop Grumman. This ISS boost using Cygnus adds an essential capability to fly the space station “.

NASA has not released information about the maneuver. It is therefore too early to say whether future Cygnus cargo ships will be used as a complement or replacement for the Russian advance. Additionally, the future of these vehicles is uncertain! Indeed, Antares, their designated launcher, uses a Russian RD-181 engine for its main stage, which is under a Ukrainian prime contractor. However, from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, these two items are not available. However, Northrop Grumman confirmed that it has two operational Antares launchers and a “contingency plan” after these two launchers, but did not provide further details. Then continue.

NASA is urgently seeking a solution to pilot the space station without Russia

The article Remy DeCourt Published on 05/03/2022

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman cargo ships, which deliver them International Space Station, can they be used to pilot an orbital complex? Until now, NASA has never bothered to find an alternative if the Russians, who are capable of operating it, decide to abandon the station to its fate. Although Russian-American space relations have always been antagonistic Storms In past geopolitics, with the conflict in Ukraine, they have never been closer to breaking apart. So NASA has a certain urgency to see if there is a definitive answer to this question and how.

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NASA wants to be visionary. If Russian-American relations reach a point of no return, Russia ” Can leave the International Space Station Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, aptly put it this way.

Dmitri Rogozin did not explicitly say that he was planning a space station in the United States, but hinted that he might leave the Russian part.

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

Without progress to power it, the station’s orbit will inevitably decline week by week.

For this, they use progress cargo, one of which is permanently attached to the Zvezda module. Without progress to power it, the station’s orbit will inevitably decline week by week. It will not be able to correct its course Avoid littering For example.

It is in this highly uncertain environment that NASA has decided to explore emergency solutions for piloting the space station, even though Russia is still cooperating with NASA to keep it running smoothly. If the Russians decide to abandon him to his fate overnight.

Are American cargo planes maneuvering to pilot the station?

Northrop Grumman supplies the station with the Cygnus cargo ship (its module was built by Thales Alenia Space) and SpaceX does the same. Dragon cargo ship, was proposed to NASA to “work on”. However, if the cargo ships of the two industrialists can be modified and adapted to the “reboost” mission of the ISS to raise its orbit, it should be known that the docking ports of American cargo ships are actually very poorly located. Mission!

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They are Moore via Ports LTC Unity and Harmony Modules (Pressurized mating adapters) equipped with an active CBM system to capture cargo. This is also whyEuropean Space Agency ATV Russian progress cargo ships docked at the same location to board the station’s orbit.

It will be interesting to see the solutions proposed by Northrop Grumman and especially SpaceXElon Musk There are always more original and daring ideas!

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