[FPSPACE] A load of balls ?

Phillip Clark psclark@dircon.co.uk
Thu, 21 Sep 2000 13:03:49 +0000 (GMT)

Following on from the death in space comments, I seem to recall (and I
think old age is affecting my memory more and more these days) that in the
days of early shuttle plans there was a concept to fly some emergency
flat-packed spheres which could be used to transfer one non-spacesuited
astronaut in each sphere from a crippled spacecraft via open space to a
rescue vehicle parked nearby.

Presumably this idea was such a good one that it was dropped to save a
few cents/pence/rubles.   Maybe it should be revived as a rescue system
between shuttles or for ISS ?   Of course, this would depend upon NASA
being able to launch a shuttle in time to rescue a stranded crew, and that
is a major uncertainty.

While a Soyuz or two docked to ISS might cover many emergencies, if there
is some catastrophy which disables the Soyuz systems as well as ISS
itself, then the crew have no means of escape - no emergency bail-out

Another concept which I recall was astronauts having a personal inflatable
heat shield with a retro system attached.   Of course, this would need the
astronaut to have something more than the pressure suits like those worn
at launch and landing inside spacecraft, but it is another idea which
seems to have died.

I have to admit that until I moved down to Hastings I was being called in
by the BBC so often for launch/landing/in-flight commentary that I started
to have a black tie in my briefcase "just in case".   A death will happen
"live on TV" sometime.   During a long EVA all that we need is a small
piece of man-made or natural space debris creating a puncture and that's
it for an EVA astronaut.   How will the media react to that going out in a
live broadcast ?   Here I am thinking of the rational television stations,
not the sensationalist companies who make publications like the US
National Enquiry or the UK Sunday Sport ("World War 2 Bomber Found on the
Moon", etc) appear normal.

Phillip Clark

Phillip S Clark                                     22 Winterbourne Close
Molniya Space Consultancy                           Hastings
Compiler/Publisher, Worldwide Satellite Launches    E Sussex  TN34 1XG

Specialist in "space archeology" - the older and more obscure the more 
interesting it is !