20 years on the International Space Station: Aging to repair and repair has not yet been replaced

Since 2000, despite all the inherent dangers in space, humans have lived on the International Space Station for 20 years and completed a variety of scientific experiments. A small but persistent air leak is intensifying. ‘It’s not going to endanger astronauts’ lives, absolutely not,’ NASA said. But if you’re on a spaceship 400 kilometers above the ground, any leaks are a bad problem.

20 years on the International Space Station: Aging to repair and repair has not yet been replaced图示:2017年,远征54、55号任务的宇航员准备从哈萨克斯坦的拜科努尔航天发射场发射升空前往国际空间站

Author . . Chen Chen

Products . . NetEase Technology “Know No” column group (public number: tech_163)

The astronauts isolated the Russian compartment on the International Space Station. But a few weeks later, they still couldn’t find the exact location of the leak. Last month, an astronaut did a little reconnaissance work when he opened a tea bag and watched the tea leaves drift slowly into tiny gaps in the weight-loss space environment, hissing slowly leaking air.

The International Space Station has been around for too long. It leaks from time to time and requires constant repair by astronauts. The toilet is broken and the battery needs to be replaced. On top of that, it has to avoid tiny meteorites in orbit: this year alone, the International Space Station has had to make three maneuvers to avoid being hit by meteorites. Sometimes it’s winning, like 2016 when a piece of space debris broke a window on the International Space Station.

Despite the inherent dangers of no air in space, radiation, and debris in orbit flying around several times faster than bullets, astronauts managed to live on the International Space Station for 20 years.

On November 2, 2000, NASA astronaut Bill Shepard and his Russian counterparts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev became the first astronauts to live and work on the space station for a long time. This month, NASA launched a series of commemorations to mark the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station’s scientific work, including scientific experiments such as 3D printing of human organs, the cultivation of protein crystals and the study of the effects of the space environment on the human body.

The International Space Station is not only man’s greatest engineering feat, but also a way for astronauts to learn to live and work in space and prepare to land on the moon and Mars.

20 years on the International Space Station: Aging to repair and repair has not yet been replaced

Pictured: In 2011, during a six-hour, 34-minute spacewalk, NASA astronauts Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew installed an electric extension cable, moved a failed ammonia pump, and installed a camera and other equipment. The International Space Station has been in continuous use for 20 years, and ongoing maintenance remains a challenge.

But as the International Space Station ages, there are concerns about what will happen next and whether the U.S. will fall into a similar disadvantage in 2011, when NASA’s space shuttle retired without a backup, leaving it dependent on Russia to send astronauts into space. It wasn’t until earlier this year that SpaceX’s successful launch of the Manned Dragon spacecraft ended this ignominious chapter as part of NASA’s commercial astronaut program.

The worry now is whether the International Space Station will one day need to land back on Earth before its successor is ready, a well-coordinated but spectacular process of falling into the ocean.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has warned Congress in recent weeks about the need to better fund the International Space Station and plan for the future.

“We think of the Apollo era, and although we love it, it’s coming to an end,” he said at a recent Senate hearing. After the retirement of the space shuttle, we had an eight-year gap before the commercial astronaut program was implemented. We want to make sure that the United States has no gaps in low-Earth orbit. “

The next space station used by U.S. astronauts could be replaced by a company like Axiom, which NASA owns and operates. Axiom is building a commercial space station, which it says will be based on the traditional foundation of the International Space Station, but will be less expensive to assemble and easier to maintain.

From the outside, the new space station looks a lot like the International Space Station, with a habitation module, solar array and interface. But the interior is quite different, with “the largest glass observation deck ever built for space”.

“We want our customers to feel great, comfortable and luxurious,” said Mike Suffredini, co-founder of Axiom, which has been in charge of NASA’s International Space Station program for a decade. “We’re even looking at how to cook food on the track… Make the food a little more delicious. “

The interior design of the new space station is the responsibility of Philippe Starck, a French architect and designer. Stark is known for designing furniture, yachts and corporate headquarters. His vision for the Axiom space station was “to create a nest, like a comfortable and friendly egg, inspired by the raw universe.” “

In other words, it’s a far from the International Space Station.

20 years on the International Space Station: Aging to repair and repair has not yet been replaced

Pictured: The International Space Station seen from NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour on May 29, 2011. This is Endeavour’s last mission.

There is no doubt that the International Space Station is a miracle, a huge device that humans assemble and form in orbit.

“To date, I think the International Space Station is the largest space construction project in human history, with a very high level of magnitude, ” said former NASA astronaut Jolyon. “We really succeeded.”

The challenge is not just the harsh vacuum environment in space. “We’re doing it with people who speak different languages and have different ethnic cultures,” said Pam Melroy, a former NASA astronaut.

“Anyone can watch the rocket launch and be inspired,” she said. “But I want people to see the International Space Station for themselves, because it’s a great engineering feat. When you approach it, it looks like a modern work of art. “

NASA has a service called The Positioning Space Station, where astronomy enthusiasts can enter their e-mail and location and be notified when the International Space Station skims overhead. In the clear night sky, the International Space Station is often the brightest point in the sky, rushing toward the horizon at 28,000 kilometers per hour, circling the Earth every 90 minutes, arcing through the night sky like fireworks.

Photographers sometimes capture silhouettes of the International Space Station, huge solar panels that look like the wings of a sci-fi spacecraft.

Despite the romanticism of space flight, real-life space exploration is a difficult and potentially deadly undertaking that requires the resourceful and dedicated team of astronauts and mission control experts to monitor the system 24 hours a day.

“I mean, it may sound crazy, but it’s proved very difficult to design and build a reliable life support system, ” he said. “Our life support system is always broken, always needs to be restarted, always needs spare parts.”

In addition to dealing with air leaks or avoiding space debris, sometimes pipes in the International Space Station can go wrong.

On one occasion, he and his teammates smelled “the scariest smell you can imagine,” he recalls. “We thought, ‘What would that be?'” Let’s turn up a block cover and look at it. Then we picked up the panels near the toilet, and these terrible green balls were coming out of the panels. ‘Oh, my God. ‘”

In September, NASA announced it would ship a new toilet to the International Space Station. At $23 million, the new toilet is smaller, lighter and more suitable for women, while also converting more urine circulation into drinking water.

The International Space Station is also a laboratory where researchers can eliminate gravitational variables that have always existed on Earth.

“The ability to eliminate variables is the way forward for science,” said Eugene Boland, chief scientist at Techshot, an Indiana research firm. “So from the point of view of no sustained gravitational impact, it is exciting that the International Space Station can continue to operate for 20 years. As a scientist, you know, this is a shiny new tool that most scientists never get. “

If an organ is created using 3D printing technology on the ground, gravity will cause it to collapse like custard, so scientists will have to reinforce positions such as the cavity wall of an artificial heart. But then scientists began to think about the space weightless environment: “What if we no longer needed to add extra brackets to support the open chamber?” Boland said. What if an object props up on its own “because there is no gravity”?

The International Space Station has also conducted a series of studies on changes in the human body in space. Scott Kelly has been in space for nearly a year, and researchers have been studying comparing him to his twin brother Mark for years. Kelly has undergone physiological and chromosomal changes in space, such as changes in gene expression and telomeres that protect the ends of chromosomes from getting longer in space.