The American space Agency NASA has announced the beginning of cooperation with ten new companies, with whom they will develop new space technologies. Perhaps the most interesting among these agreements is the cooperation of NASA with private space company SpaceX. As indicated by sources, along with the brainchild of Elon musk, the state space Agency to develop technologies for refueling spacecraft in space.
SpaceX, along with our Research center Glenn Research center Marshall will focus on creating new technologies required for delivery of rocket fuel into orbit. For SpaceX it will be a very important step in the development of their spacecraft Starship — said in a press release from the Agency NASA.
Statement NASA company SpaceX commented, not hiding my enthusiasm:
We believe that the rockets and spacecraft SpaceX, including Falcon Heavy and Starship can be an integral part of the lunar and Mars plans of NASA, noted in the company.
Why NASA and SpaceX filling in space?
It’s all in the desire of both sides to explore deep space. NASA, recall that in the framework of the new lunar program “Artemis” is going to return to Earth and establish there a scientific ground and orbital bases with a permanent residence of the astronauts.
By the way, the head of SpaceX Elon Musk had previously “hinted” on the subject, he would like his company took the construction of the base to NASA to the moon part. In addition, SpaceX plans to use your spacecraft Starship to fly to the moon and Mars, with the prospect of founding there a permanent human settlement.
After the moon, NASA also 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 deeper into space.
How will the refueling in space?
The presence of gas stations in Earth orbit will allow to simplify and reduce the cost of space launches from Earth. It should be recalled that the bigger and heavier the rocket and the ship with payload, the more expensive it costs to run. In the presence of a refueling station in orbit launch vehicles and spacecraft do not need to refuel the eyeballs still on the ground. The fuel fill will be made only in such amount which would be needed to get the rocket ship into orbit. After reaching orbit, the ship will refuel rocket fuel at the space gas station, and then continue their mission into deep space. From an economic point of view, this approach would be cheaper.
It will look something like this: start from the Ground – refueling in orbit – mission to Mars – a fuel produced on the basis of local resources back to Earth
It is assumed that for the return flight to Earth for refueling the rocket will use fuel which will be produced from the same useful Martian and lunar resources. One can produce oxygen, water, methane and hydrogen, which will be used to produce rocket fuel.
Is it difficult to build a gas station in space?
Very. According to one of the chief engineers of SpaceX Sex Worcester, for the company this task 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 realize their ambitious plans related to Mars.
SpaceX has even calculated that the implementation of one mission to the red planet would require five “refills” of the conclusions of the ships from Starship into orbit around the Earth with hundreds of tons of new rocket fuel as the main payload.
In the past NASA has already conducted research aimed at understanding how to deliver and store rocket fuel based on liquid oxygen, hydrogen and methane and refuel spacecraft directly in the space environment. As it turned out, with all these substances is very difficult to work with. In the space environment they can evaporate. For example, it is notedthat atoms of the same hydrogen can easily evaporate, even through the metal shell of the fuel tank.
NASA is confident that collaboration with private companies will enable you to overcome all the technological difficulties that stand in the way of flying to the moon and Mars.