NASA with SpaceX will create a filling station in Earth orbit
US space agency NASA has announced the beginning of cooperation with ten new companies, with which they will be engaged in development of new space technologies. Perhaps most interesting among these agreements is a NASA collaboration with the private space company SpaceX. As indicated by sources, together with the brainchild of Elon Musk State Space Agency will develop technologies for refueling spacecraft directly in space.
SpaceX with our Glenn Research Center and the Research Center of Marshall will be involved in setting up the new technologies needed to deliver propellants into orbit. SpaceX for most it will be a very important step in the development of their spaceship Starship, - said in a press release from NASA's.
Statement by NASA SpaceX company commented without hiding the enthusiasm:
We believe that the rocket and spacecraft SpaceX, including Falcon Heavy and Starship can become an integral part of the lunar and Martian NASA plans, - noted in the company.
Why NASA and SpaceX refueling in space?
The thing is desire on both sides to explore deep space. NASA's, recall that in the framework of the new lunar program "Artemis" is going to return to the Earth's satellite and founded a scientific ground and orbital base-residential astronauts.
By the way, the head of SpaceX Elon Musk has previously "stutter" on the topic that would like to be the company adopted in the construction of bases on the Moon NASA directly involved. Besides, the SpaceX plans in the future to use their spacecraft Starship for missions to the Moon and Mars, with the prospect of the base there permanent human settlement.
Read also: NASA will create together with SpaceX and Blue Origin lunar lander mission "Artemis"
NASA after the Moon, too, wants to fly to Mars. Earth satellite for the agency will be a kind of training ground for new technologies that will be used for flights to more deep space.
How refueling in space will happen?
The presence of gas stations in Earth orbit will allow to prevail and reduce the cost of space launches from Earth. It should be recalled that the larger and heavier rockets and payload, the more expensive its launch. If there is a gas station in orbit launch vehicles and space ships do not have to refuel the eyeballs still on the ground. Refilling of fuel will be produced only in such an amount that will be needed to output a rocket ship in a near-earth orbit. After reaching orbit the ship will refuel propellant in a space filling station and then continue its mission into deep space. From an economic point of view, such an approach would be cheaper.
It will look something like this: Start with the Earth - refueled in orbit - flight to Mars - fueling, produced on the basis of local resources - the return to Earth
It is assumed that for the return flight to Earth fuel will be used to fuel the rocket, which will be made from the same mineral Martian and lunar resources. From them it will be possible to produce oxygen, water, methane and hydrogen, which will be used for the production of propellant.
Is it difficult to build a gas station in outer space?
Highly. According to one of the main engineers SpaceX Paul Wooster, for the company's solution to this problem will be one of the most difficult technological problems. But to find the answer to it is necessary, as without this the company will not be able to implement its ambitious plans associated with Mars.
In SpaceX have even calculated that for the realization of a mission to the Red Planet will need to implement five "refills" conclusions Starship ships to orbit the Earth with hundreds of tons of a new rocket fuel as the primary payload.
See also: SpaceX has successfully tested a prototype spacecraft for missions to Mars
In the past, NASA has conducted research aimed at understanding how to deliver and store propellant based on liquid oxygen, hydrogen, and methane and refuel spacecraft directly to the space environment. As it turned out, all of these materials are very difficult to work with. In the space environment conditions, they can evaporate. For example, it is noted that the hydrogen atoms of the same can evaporate without problems even after the metal shell of the fuel tank.
The NASA believe that cooperation with the private sector will help to overcome all technical difficulties standing in the way missions to the Moon and Mars.
If you are interested in science and technology news, subscribe to our channel at Yandex. Zen. There you will find materials that have not been published on the website.