Learn about how NASA and the European Space Agency have taken learning from the space shuttle fleet to create a new generation of astronauts.NASA and ESA’s Commercial Crew Program will deliver up to five astronauts to the International Space Station by 2020.
That number will likely grow as the space agency and ESA begin commercial crew programs, and NASA and its Commercial Crew partners will develop the next generation of vehicles.
But the lessons learned from the Shuttle fleet will also have to be applied to the new Space Launch System.
“There’s a whole new generation coming in that is going to be the next spaceflight generation,” says NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Chris Ferguson.
“And so we need to understand how they are going to get from one place to another, how they’re going to interact with the spacecraft, what kind of payload they’re carrying, what type of equipment they’re using and how they use that, and that’s going to inform us about what to do with those vehicles in the future.”
What NASA and EU are doingWith the Commercial Crew program, NASA and Europe have agreed to develop an automated flight control system, known as Mission Control, which will allow the astronauts to navigate the spacecraft autonomously, including the use of computers and software to keep the vehicle in a safe, controlled state.
NASA has already developed an automated system for the Space Shuttle.
The ESA is also developing a system called Mission Control that will be able to provide human crew with an overview of the flight of the vehicle, including all the hardware, crew schedules and environmental conditions that will impact the flight.
“We’re building a vehicle to allow human operators to understand and operate a spacecraft in the most natural and intuitive way, so that they can be comfortable and to do their jobs safely,” says Jean-Baptiste Boccardi, head of ESA’s human spaceflight programme.
“This is an entirely new vehicle, and we need it to be robust, capable and flexible.”
Boccardo said the vehicle would be able “to operate autonomously” to make sure the astronauts are getting the information they need and that the mission is progressing smoothly.
The European Space Shuttle fleet was retired in the late 1980s, after a total of eight crewmembers died on the space station.
It was also decommissioned in 2004.
But the Space Station was rebuilt and reopened to international guests in 2011.
It remains one of the most visited destinations on Earth.