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TechnologyOn Apollo, using the bathroom was ‘messy.’ America’s next moonshot will be radically different in many ways

16:05  23 june  2019
16:05  23 june  2019 Source:   msn.com

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America ’ s next moonshot will be radically different in many ways . Orlando Sentinel 6/23/2019 Chabeli Herrera. © MIKE BROWN / Reuters Photo. Now, the United States is again talking about going to the moon as early as 2024, this time on a craft that resembles Apollo in only its shape.

America ’ s next moonshot will be radically different Pressfrom ^ | 23 June 2019. The three Apollo 10 astronauts are zipping through the desolate expanse of space, the Earth a small blue marble behind them, on a mission poised to set the stage for one of humanity’s seminal achievements, when

On Apollo, using the bathroom was ‘messy.’ America’s next moonshot will be radically different in many ways© MIKE BROWN / Reuters Photo

The three Apollo 10 astronauts are zipping through the desolate expanse of space, the Earth a small blue marble behind them, on a mission poised to set the stage for one of humanity’s seminal achievements, when, suddenly, astronaut Tom Stafford called out from inside the cramped spacecraft: “Oh — who did it?”

After some confusion, he repeated himself: “Who did it?”

He was laughing.

Then astronaut Gene Cernan spotted the source of the commotion: “Where did that come from?”

“Give me a napkin quick,” Stafford said, horrified. “There’s a turd floating through the air.”

Ah, the glamour of space travel.

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Ray San Fratello remembers the Apollo 11 moon landing from Batavia, New York. He remembers his father's excitement in the time ahead of Woodstock and the idea that footprints will remain on the On Apollo , using the bathroom was ‘ messy .’ America ’ s next moonshot will be radically different .

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In the 1960s, an entire nation set out to complete a presidential mandate to get men on the moon by the end of the decade. They did it with Apollo, a craft that at the time was built to perform that exact purpose — a mission to the moon and back — with the bare bones required to make it happen.

That meant no toilets.

Now, the United States is again talking about going to the moon as early as 2024, this time on a craft that resembles Apollo in only its shape. When the U.S. goes to the lunar surface this time, it’ll do it in a vehicle called Orion that has benefited from the 50 years that have elapsed since the first moonshot.

For one, privacy curtains are a thing now.

“Although we bear a striking resemblance to Apollo, boy, the mission engineers then would not recognize [Orion],” said Jim Bray, director of the Orion crew and life systems for Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the program. “They folded in all the lessons learned from Apollo, all the lessons learned from [the Space] Shuttle ...We are taking advantage of what the world has done over the past 50 years."

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Like the original moon shot , these are big, hard problems that demand significant investments of time and money, along with innovative technology and thinking. But these projects differ in two critical ways . First, they demand nowhere near the resources the United States used to reach the Sea of Tranquility.

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Bray, who was been working on Orion since the start of the program in 2005, said it all started with a strict set of requirements from NASA. The teams worked through various different shape designs before settling on the one used on Apollo, said NASA Orion engineer Stu McClung, who has worked on the program since 2007.

They found that the “blunt body shape works” to get a spacecraft into deep space.

“Physics hasn’t changed,” McClung said.

But technology and our understanding of radiation and effects of long-term exposure to space on the human body has.

And that’s there where Orion started to deviate from its ’60s era twin.

Living in space

Solid waste collection on Apollo was primitive at best and dysfunctional at worst.

The astronauts only spent a few days in the capsule and they were given Lomotil, a medication typically used to treat diarrhea that decreases bowel movements, as well as low-residue foods for the same purpose. They weren’t expected to use the bathroom much in space and if they did, well, they could just strap on a bag and use that to collect their waste. It would stay in the craft until landing.

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This is a most inspirational presentation of, perhaps, the most famous space speech ever given. This is a very large file of 189 megabytes and only suggested for those with DSL, ASDL, or cable modem access as the download time on a 28.8K or 56K modem would be many hours duration.

— Chabeli Herrera, orlandosentinel.com, " On Apollo , using the bathroom was ‘ messy .’ America ’ s next moonshot will be radically different ," 21 July 2019 Flying backward, the main engine in Columbia's service module ignited at 1:21 p.m. on July 19, burning for five minutes and 57 seconds to

In a paper Bray co-authored comparing Apollo and Orion, the clean-up process and “potential loose stools" were described as "a health concern that many Apollo crews shared, as the bagging and storing process was described by them as simply being ‘messy.’”

Taking lessons from the International Space Station, which required astronauts to stay in space for months at a time, Orion has a built-in toilet system with a privacy curtain that collects solid waste without risking fly aways because it gets compacted and stored in canisters that don’t tear like the Apollo bags sometimes did. (Urine collection, though, will be similar as on Apollo, with urine kept in a tank and then released to space.)

The privacy introduces better conditions for a mixed gender crew, too. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has repeatedly said he expects the planned 2024 lunar landing will carry the first woman to the surface of the moon.

The astronauts who take that journey — and other potential missions to deep space — will also have more leg room. Orion is about 40% to 50% larger than Apollo, allowing room for a crew of up to four. The seats collapse, giving the astronauts more space to move about the cabin.

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It’s also enough space to add better exercise machines.

Missions to the space station have revealed that humans need a lot of exercise to fight back the effects of the weightlessness of space on muscle and bone mass degradation.

The switch from a rudimentary exercise device on Apollo — essentially a cloth and a rope — to a pulley system with resistance weight on Orion is designed to keep astronauts healthy on long flights. Environmental control systems on Orion accommodate for the heat, moisture and smells produced by exercise.

The spacecraft will also adjust for the harsh radiation environment in deep space, providing astronauts with a safe stowage area where they can take cover in the event of a solar flares.

“Since Apollo, we’ve learned that radiation is a significant item that we need to monitor, measure and control,” Bray said. “They launched in areas where the solar flares were kind of low. We want to have anytime, anywhere capability.”

Better technology, tougher challenges

If the main engine on the Apollo capsule didn’t ignite, if it failed, the astronauts were not coming home.

At the time, the systems on Apollo were severely limited to the scope of the mission and the technology at time. Back-up systems were lacking on several components, raising the risks involved in the missions.

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Orion endeavors to correct some of those limitations. The vehicle has eight auxiliary thrusters on the service module as backup in case the main engine fails. Its flight software’s read-only memory capacity is 925 times larger and it has 5,000 times faster processing speeds, freeing up astronauts to perform more science onboard.

Orion also uses solar arrays that keep the vehicle powered by the sun, instead of fuel cells, allowing it to travel farther.

All of those changes make the spacecraft more nimble to serve any deep space mission regardless of the destination, instead of only being constructed to perform a mission to the moon. Since the program began development, the destination for Orion has changed from the moon to an asteroid and back to the moon as presidential administrations’ priorities shifted.

“To a great extent, the vehicles design has not been affected by the evolution in the missions over the years,” McClung said. “It is destination agnostic.”

But the lack of political pressure, much of it dictated by the Cold War, that pushed Apollo forward has also created challenges for Orion.

The craft has taken more than a decade to finish and without the access to a bloated NASA budget as in the Apollo days, as well as a more limited aerospace industry supply chain, troubleshooting challenges is harder.

“When you run into a technical challenge ... it’s a tougher thing to solve because you can only throw so many people at it. You can’t necessarily throw money at it or go buy something else,” McClung said. “There is a little less robustness in the system to deal with some of those [problems].”

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The result in part has been significant delays to the schedule.

According to a report released last month by a government watchdog group, Orion is not on track to meet the planned June 2020 launch date for its second uncrewed test mission to space (it performed a successful test in 2014 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from the Cape).

The causes are delays to the European Service Module ⁠— the propulsion element that carries all the life support items for the crew ⁠— and issues with the avionics systems in the crew module, among other problems.

Those factors could push a launch into as late as June 2021. The accompanying rocket Boeing is building to take humans to the moon, the Space Launch System, is about 30 percent over budget and also not likely to launch until June 2021 at the earliest, the Government Accountability Office found.

“We’ve had some bumps along the way, which you expect [but] you don’t like them because we all want to get there quicker than we are,” McClung said. “Do you prefer to practice or would you like to play the game? We want to get out and execute. So it’s important for us to go and execute, hit our marks.”

When Orion does lift off from the Cape, McClung said it will be the emotional culmination of more than a decade of work. He’ll be the thinking of the astronauts whose lives depend on whether he and his team did their job right.

“They haven’t been named yet, but you get the privilege of working with these folks that are going to take us back to the moon and represent us,” he said. “I’ll shed a tear.”

Want more space news? Follow Go For Launch on Facebook. Contact the reporter at cherrera@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5660; Twitter @ChabeliH

This series

This story is part of the Orlando Sentinel’s “Countdown to Apollo 11: The First Moon Landing” – 30 days of stories leading up to 50th anniversary of the historic first steps on moon on July 20, 1969. More stories, photos and videos at OrlandoSentinel.com/Apollo11.

On Apollo, using the bathroom was ‘messy.’ America’s next moonshot will be radically different in many ways© Provided by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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