Technologies Needed for a Spacecraft to Survive Deep Space

A spacecraft designed for humans to travel to deep space has to have various features to ensure that its occupants and crew members are as safe as visitors to Both the distance and duration of the mission demand that it have systems that can operate safely away from Earth.

Systems to Live and Breathe

The systems that will allow humans to live longer missions in deep space have to be reliable and high-quality. The systems for deep space missions will be built into the Orion spacecraft. A high-tech system being tested on the International Space Station will remove humidity and carbon dioxide from the vessel.

Water condensation can also be prevented from damaging the main pressure structure of the vessel.

The systems that will support the operations of deep space missions need to be highly reliable, especially since the astronauts won’t have the opportunity to receive frequent resupply shipments. Even small systems need to perform reliably in space, such as exercise equipment that will assist astronauts to stay in shape.

In addition to these, the spacecraft also needs to have space suits that can keep its occupants alive for up to six days in the event of an onboard depressurization.

Proper Propulsion

The propulsion systems of a vehicle traveling further into space should also be able to maintain their course and allow the vessel to reach its destination safely.

The powerful service module of Orion is designed to provide the necessary thrust to enable the spacecraft to carry out its various missions, such as going around the Moon and returning to Earth. It has 33 engines, which are capable of delivering a total of 3,600 revolutions per minute. One of these is the main engine that will power the vessel as it moves through space, and it can fire fast enough to get the ship out of the Moon’s orbit.

The additional tanks and propellant that are included in the service module of Orion are capable of holding almost 2,000 gallons of fuel. The vessel can also be brought home in emergencies.

The Ability to Hold Off the Heat

Getting to the Moon is not an easy feat, especially since traveling further into space will increase the heat that the spacecraft will generate once it returns to Earth. In order to safely return to Earth, the vessel needs to have technologies that can withstand extreme heat.

The temperature range that Orion will experience before it re-enters Earth will be from minus 150 to about 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Its onboard thermal protection system will keep the vessel cool during times of pitch-black darkness and direct sunlight.

Radiation Protection

During missions beyond Earth’s magnetic field, the vessel will be subjected to a significantly harsher radiation environment. This will expose it to higher levels of radiation, which can affect the vital equipment and systems on the ship. Humans are prone to experiencing various health issues, including chronic and acute radiation sickness.

From the beginning, engineers of Orion have been working on developing features that will help the spacecraft operate efficiently during radiation events. These features include redundant backup computers that can be used to restore the ship’s operations in the event of a malfunction. They have also tested the various systems and components to ensure that they can operate properly even during extreme conditions.

Constant Communication and Navigation

Sending a spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit is not as easy as it sounds. Orion will be able to keep in touch with mission control through NASA’s three space networks. As it approaches cislunar orbit, it will switch from one network to another, which is designed to provide communications for the agency’s other satellites in deep space.

In case the vessel’s primary systems get damaged or malfunction, it can still rely on backup navigation and communication systems to guide it. One of these is an optical navigation system, which uses a camera to take images of the Moon, Earth, and stars. It can then autonomously position the ship and keep track of its position.

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