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Tech & Science This Spacesuit's 'Take Me Home' Button Could Rescue Astronauts Adrift In Space

05:21  07 december  2017
05:21  07 december  2017 Source:   gizmodo.com.au

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“Giving astronauts a sense of direction and orientation in space is a challenge because there is no gravity and no easy way to determine which way is When enabled, the suit ’ s “ take me home ” system can operate the jetpack autonomously, or provide the the astronaut with directions using sensors or

When enabled, the suit ' s " take me home " system can operate the jetpack autonomously, or provide the the astronaut with directions using sensors or via the helmet' s visor display. The self-return system can be initiated by the astronaut , the crew onboard the space station, or members of mission control

Sandra Bullock in a scene from 'Gravity'.© Heyday Films Sandra Bullock in a scene from 'Gravity'.

Imagine the frightening scenario - dramatised in movies such as Gravity and 2001 - where an astronaut gets sick or disoriented during a spacewalk. Confused, and on the cusp of losing consciousness, she struggles to operate the suit's jetpack. Unable to get her bearings, and without a tether to keep her secured to the space station, she drifts farther and farther away until all hope is lost.

Now instead of that scenario, imagine the struggling astronaut presses an emergency button which automatically takes her back to the International Space Station or another space-based habitat. Such a system is currently under development at Draper Labs, and it could soon become a standard feature on spacesuits.

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"Lost in space " is a nightmare scenario for astronauts , but they soon could be sleeping easier. This system is, essentially, a " take me home " button . [The Evolution of the Spacesuit in Pictures]. Lead inventor Kevin Duda, a space systems engineer at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge

An astronaut who gets separated from the International Space Station could very quickly lose track of where in the endless sea of inky black sky the space station is located, and any rescue mission would similarly struggle to figure out where a lost person might be found. Draper' s patent, then, covers a

To develop this "take me home" technology, Draper's engineers had to design a system capable of pinpointing an astronaut's location relative to the return point, and compute an optimal return trajectory taking time, oxygen consumption, safety and clearance considerations into account. There's no GPS in orbit, of course, and preventing the astronaut's head from smashing against a solar panel would probably be a good thing. Fundamentally, the technology needed to be able to guide a disoriented (and possibly unconscious) astronaut back to the awaiting craft. To that end, Draper's new system is capable of monitoring movement, acceleration and relative position of a spacewalking astronaut to a fixed object, such as the ISS.

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This message coming from an untethered astronaut flying freely in space could soon be a thing of the past. Developments in spacesuit technology would Engineers in the Draper Lab have filed a patent for a “ take me home ” button which will rescue astronauts if their crew mates cannot reach them.

Draper Labs is developing a ‘ take me home ’ button for spacesuits to help guide lost or unconscious astronauts back to their base in space ! Currently, astronauts on spacewalks are tethered to the International Space Station, but if they become disconnected, they can use a jet backpack called

"Giving astronauts a sense of direction and orientation in space is a challenge because there is no gravity and no easy way to determine which way is up and down," explained Kevin Duda, a space systems engineer at Draper, in a statement. "Our technology improves mission success in space by keeping the crew safe."

When enabled, the suit's "take me home" system can operate the jetpack autonomously, or provide the the astronaut with directions using sensors or via the helmet's visor display. The self-return system can be initiated by the astronaut, the crew onboard the space station, or members of mission control down on Earth.

Duda and his colleagues at Draper only recently filed a patent for the system, so it may be a while before we see functional, space-capable versions. Importantly, however, NASA co-funded this spacesuit project, so there's a major player interested in its development. That said, this system could be applied to other applications, such as when firefighters are incapacitated by smoke, or scuba divers struggling in the ocean.

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Now, a new spacesuit concept could add the ultimate layer of protection against being lost in space . Modern day astronauts are equipped with space suits that have manual propulsion systems that they could , in theory, use to rescue themselves in the event of an accident. These systems provide the

automatically guide an astronaut home during an emergency in space . Right now, NASA astronauts on board the ISS already have numerous redundancies The “ Take Me Home ” button would basically get rid of the need for that SAFER control box. Instead, astronauts would be able to press a button

[Draper]

Space capsule with 3 astronauts returns to Earth .
Three astronauts on Thursday landed back on Earth after nearly six months aboard the International Space Station.A Russian Soyuz capsule with NASA's Randy Bresnik, Russia's Sergey Ryazanskiy and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency descended under a red-and-white parachute and landed on schedule at 2:37 p.m. local time (0837 GMT; 3:37 a.m. EST) on the vast steppes outside of a remote town in [email protected] exits the Soyuz spacecraft that brought him home from the station 250 miles above Earth less than 3.5 hours earlier. #AskNASAhttps://t.co/yuOTrZ4Jutpic.twitter.com/uMJGLEtbqq— Intl.

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