Escape Pods, Refuge Of ISS Astronauts From Space Junk
ISS astronauts ducked into "escape pods" to avoid oncoming space junk last week. The "pods" in this case are two Russian Soyuz craft kept handy for just this sort of emergency. As it turned out, the tiny piece of debris missed
Science fiction writers have long been interested in the idea of escape pods. In 1941, author Harry Walton wrote about a rescue ship - he called it a "lifeship" - in Moon of Exile. In 1946, Arthur C. Clarke published his first short story, titled Rescue Party, in which aliens on a survey mission arrived to try to evacuate humanity from Earth in the face of the sun going nova:
Alveron read the message from base: then, with a flick of a tentacle that no human eye could have followed, he pressed the General Attention button...
"We are approaching a sun which is about to become a nova. There are ten planets, with a civilization on the third. It is our tragic mission to contact that doomed race, and if possible save some of its members."
Fans of sci-fi movies of course recall the escape pods from the first Star Wars film in 1976.
(Star Wars escape pod)
Scientists and engineers have, of course, also considered this problem. Werner Von Braun pushed the idea of a manned space station in the 1960's; with it he also designed a protective ejection type capsule. A parachute with steel-wire mesh reinforcements and solid rocket booster would break the fall; antenna and radar beacon activate automatically.
(From Von Braun Rescue Vehicles)
After the 1986 shuttle Challenger accident, NASA started seriously looking at alternatives for the Space Station. Some proposals even included the use of refurbished Apollo lunar capsules from the 1960's. The only completed crew rescue capability ever provided by NASA is the Apollo CSM rescue craft. A kit was created to fit out an Apollo command module with five crew couches; in the event that a Skylab crew ran into trouble, a rescue CSM would be launched to rendezvous with the station.
This capability was created partly in response to the sci-fi movie Marooned, released in 1969, starring Gregory Peck, David Janssen and Gene Hackman (among many others). The movie explored what happens when a problem develops in space and astronauts are stranded.
(From NASA Rescue CSM craft)
During the last decade, NASA developed the X-38 prototype, which was intended as an emergency vehicle for up to seven crewmembers on the International Space Station. It would have been carried up to the ISS by shuttle, and attached to a docking port. The craft offered a seven hour life support system, a steerable parafoil parachute deployed at 40,000 feet to carry it through to landing. It was intended to have fully automated navigation and control systems. This program has been cancelled.
(From NASA X-38)
Via Daily Tech.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/12/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 7 )
Related News Stories -
Students! NASA Wants To 3D Print Your Tool Design In Space!
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1979
Flock Of Minisats Will Image The Earth
'We... dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV.'- Robert Silverberg, 1969.
The Manned Maneuvering Unit Story
'Little spurts of red-orange flame from the reaction pistol marked his companion's trail...'- Gordon A. Giles, 1937.
Bigelow's Inflatable BEAM Module Ready For ISS In 2015
'The bubble had inflatable seats and an inflatable table...'- Larry Niven, 1994.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Foodini 3D Printer
''...Food slot gave him flat reddish-brown bricks.'
Parrot Bebop Drone Pairs With Your Smartphone
'Over a radius of several miles Sonya's raytron apparatus could direct its flight [using] an image of all that the lens eye saw.'
SCRIBE Enables Distributed Genomically Encoded Memory
Genomic DNA for analog, rewritable, and flexible memory.
Artisanal 3D Printing By Martha Stewart
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'
Knightscope Robot Security Guards Ready
'A robot guard appeared, streaking toward them across the field.'
Bullet-Proof Kevlar Woven Electronics
'Check the watch imprinted on his sleeve...'
USAF 'BATMAN' Wrist Display
'The tiny screen in the bracelet's center...'
CoBots - Collaborative Robots Ask Humans For Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify... You give it a good look.'
Shape-Shifting Carbon Fiber
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'
'Digital Drugs' (Like Herbert's Semuta?) Dismays Saudis
'The effect (described as timeless, sustained ecstasy) is elicited by certain atonal vibrations...'
Mind Control Of Gene Expression In Mice
'We used your thought images almost entirely...'
Nixie Wrist-Ready Flying Selfie-Cam Drone
'He set his camera to follow him...'
DARPA Wants Airborne Launch Facility For Drones
This was tried with recon craft in WWII.
Lit Motors Self-Balancing Motorcycle
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems...'
Neuromorphic Brain-Chip Takes Flight
'Cultured brains on a slab.'
What Are Robots Thinking?
'Your clothes... give them to me.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories