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Thread: NASA rescue ball - photos

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    NASA rescue ball - photos


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    The main problem with that was there has never been 2 orbiters in space at the same time, the amount of time it would take to prepare a rescue vehicle for launch let alone the number of orbits it would take to retrieve the stricken astronauts, their life support systems in such a small module would have ran out days before they could be rescued. \.
    If they were able to locate an escape ball then there would be the problem of matching speed to a low enough meter per second differential so any grapple or retrieval device would not become a base ball bat. An astronauts body being confined in a ball like position could not survive much of a battering around.
    But we could invent a new game called space ball LOL
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    I had one of those as a kid... for my hamster.

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    Space Beach Balls!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank S View Post
    The main problem with that was there has never been 2 orbiters in space at the same time, the amount of time it would take to prepare a rescue vehicle for launch let alone the number of orbits it would take to retrieve the stricken astronauts, their life support systems in such a small module would have ran out days before they could be rescued.
    Agreed. We needed to fly a lot more for this to be in any way feasible as a solution.

    If they were able to locate an escape ball then there would be the problem of matching speed to a low enough meter per second differential so any grapple or retrieval device would not become a base ball bat. An astronauts body being confined in a ball like position could not survive much of a battering around.
    But we could invent a new game called space ball LOL
    We've been able to rendezvous spacecraft to zero relative velocity since late in the gemini program. That's pretty close to a solved problem. My recollection on these was that the plan was to tether these balls together in a chain and have a pair of astronauts in EVA suits and MMU or SAFER units transfer them from one spacecraft to another.

    Trivia: NASA still uses these as a test for claustrophobia for astronauts. They wire candidates up (comms,pulse,O2,blood pressure), have them climb in, close the lid, turn out the lights, and leave them in there until they ask to come out or the test ends. To convey how chill Astronauts are, several of the current Astronauts have fallen asleep inside the thing and had to be woken up to make the test valid.

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    This kit was called the "Personal Rescue Enclosure", and the flight model was not going to be transparent, but instead a stack of opaque fabric with a small window.

    I'd love to post a link to the study papers on it at NASA, but the NTRS search engine is down right now.

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    Supporting Member Frank S's Avatar
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    Here's my somewhat weird explanation to the viability or lack there of, for individual space balls
    I'm not picking on anyone the statement just seemed to fit the scenario
    ""We've been able to rendezvous spacecraft to zero relative velocity since late in the gemini program. That's pretty close to a solved problem. My recollection on these was that the plan was to tether these balls together in a chain and have a pair of astronauts in EVA suits and MMU or SAFER units transfer them from one spacecraft to another.""
    yes of course they have, but here is a scenario for you. Your mission is to retrieve 7 escape balls from a failed space craft these balls were ejected from various ports arranged around the hull of the craft the tacky balls might have all been launched from a single port and tethered together as doubtful as that option is for the simple reason that not all balls could be ejected at the same time unless everyone had to wait until the last person was sealed in their module. If the parent craft was experiencing critical structural failure or a tear in the atmospheric containment envelope and the pressure was dropping at a rapid rate all of the balls may not deploy if all tethered together this could be a major problem.
    Now lets say for giggles and grins that each individual has their assigned space ball strategically placed around the ship with independent means of ejection. These balls could possibly be sent out in several different directions each second, minute, or hour that passes the balls would be drifting ever further apart. Your launch vehicle would have to have been fueled and launched in minutes not hours or days because there is only so much breathable air that can be contained in a sphere of that size and even if a few small extremely high pressure canisters are made into the sphere the human body takes up so much space there couldn't be very many I'm not talking scuba tanks because even the largest of those only hold about an hour's worth of air because they can only be pressurized to around 3000PSI. If you had one of those in the small sphere with you, you would have to be very small to be able to fit along with it. But what if it were pure oxygen stored in some very small tanks you say. This could work providing there is a way to scrub out the expelled CO2 and vent it to prevent over pressurizing there would also need to be compressed nitrogen released in the sphere to mix with the pure oxygen. So now possibly the space ball can support life for a little longer with some form of breathable air replenishment what about heat? The absence of a source of heat means the inside of that ball is going to get very cold very quickly.
    You made it to orbit in less than 2 hours from the time of notification. It is mathematically technologically and humanly impossible but you did it Hooray You.
    Your team home in on the closest distress beacon but that pod was ejected against the direction of travel the doomed space craft was traveling it is still on an orbital path but is traveling at a much slower speed you slow and match its velocity. one module captured and secured then next on is on an orbital path which is slightly higher traveling about the same velocity of the spacecraft it was ejected from You do a short engine burn to alter speed and use thrusters to alter course. to get there as quickly as possible then slow to match docking velocity. 2 down 5 more to go the next nearest is still forward but at a somewhat lower altitude the only problem is you have to contend with the debris field of their space craft because it was the last escape pod to eject and by that time the craft was breaking up so the ejection has not carried it very far away. The only way you are going to manage to save the occupant is to deploy one of your crew in a powered EVA rig which will have to be an un tethered deployment due to the debris and the minimum safe distance you must maintain for the safety of your rescue craft.
    Valuable time is spent. Time which you do not have so after deploying your crewperson you confer with the powers that be that the wisest thing to do is to speed ahead and try to rescue as many of the other space balls as possible This time going for the farthest away then slowing to allow the others to catch up with you while altering your orbit by this time your EVA has secured the stranded astronaut patched in an a carried along reserve air supply and managed to maneuver both of them to a safe distance clear of the debris field. The entire stranded crew has been rescued alive although some may be in bad shape by now.
    All that is left now is to make a safe reentry and land.
    A much better escape system would be a 2 or 3 person escape craft fitted with thrusters and heat shields they rescue them selves . I believe there is actually a reentry vehicle capable of ferrying the crew of the ISS back to Earth should something like this ever happen If there is not then there should be.
    Space ball escape pods may be a viable way to safe the drew of a craft after it has reentered the atmosphere but is in danger of breaking up
    Last edited by Frank S; Jul 17, 2021 at 09:04 PM.
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    There's the problem. You're thinking of these as being lifeboats ejected from the spacecraft. That wasn't the case. The idea was that everyone would climb into these inside the failing spacecraft and then someone in an EVA or IVA suit would pick up the balls, clip them onto a lanyard, and pull them out through the airlock. That's why they the Spaceballs didn't have any propulsion systems on board; it would have been dangerous to have hypergolic or cold gas thrusters stowed inside the Shuttlle.

    If the idea sounds super sketchy to you, you're right and NASA agrees. The technology never flew because of the first limitation you mentioned (no way to launch a second shuttle fast enough). The emergency plan was, IIRC, to don IVA pressure suits (the orange ones they used at launch), search for the leak, flood make-up gas to keep pressure in the cabin, and abort to reentry. In the event of a rapid depressurization the make-up gas couldn't handle long enough to don IVA suits then we would have renamed a bunch of high schools. That was the reality of being a shuttle astronaut.

    The abort plan for the ISS is almost precisely what you describe. Whenever anything major goes wrong, (fire, leak, etc) they can pile into the abort spacecraft (Soyuz or crew dragon), and abort to reentry if the situation cannot be controlled. There are always enough abort craft attached to the spacecraft to hold all of the crew aboard.

    (I am not an expert on this topic.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Greene View Post
    There's the problem. You're thinking of these as being lifeboats ejected from the spacecraft. That wasn't the case. The idea was that everyone would climb into these inside the failing spacecraft and then someone in an EVA or IVA suit would pick up the balls, clip them onto a lanyard, and pull them out through the airlock. That's why they the Spaceballs didn't have any propulsion systems on board; it would have been dangerous to have hypergolic or cold gas thrusters stowed inside the Shuttlle.

    If the idea sounds super sketchy to you, you're right and NASA agrees. The technology never flew because of the first limitation you mentioned (no way to launch a second shuttle fast enough). The emergency plan was, IIRC, to don IVA pressure suits (the orange ones they used at launch), search for the leak, flood make-up gas to keep pressure in the cabin, and abort to reentry. In the event of a rapid depressurization the make-up gas couldn't handle long enough to don IVA suits then we would have renamed a bunch of high schools. That was the reality of being a shuttle astronaut.

    The abort plan for the ISS is almost precisely what you describe. Whenever anything major goes wrong, (fire, leak, etc) they can pile into the abort spacecraft (Soyuz or crew dragon), and abort to reentry if the situation cannot be controlled. There are always enough abort craft attached to the spacecraft to hold all of the crew aboard.

    (I am not an expert on this topic.)
    I was thinking there was a Soyuz craft similar to the retired US space shuttle permanently docked at the ISS just for that reason.
    Instead of retiring all of the falling bricks to museums one of them could have been remote launched without a crew and docked there as well.
    I've never liked the USA having to rely on any other country for a ride into or returned from the ISS.
    The whole world's space program is about 50 years behind where it could have been by now.
    To me the ISS is just skylab 3.0 Construction started in 1998 wasn't even completed until 2011 and originally only slated to operate until 2020. then extended until 2024 but possibly may get another reprieve through 2028 or 2030. I think there are a lot of factors to consider one of which may be radiation shielding saturation, metal fatigue, systems repair or the possibility of future upgrades.
    I realize it is not thought feasible or even possible to gently nudge it into a high orbit due to differences in LEO and HEO design characteristics, but if it were possible I think parking it half way between the Earth and the moon even if it took 10 years to nudge it to an orbit that far out could yield many benefits they may not even know about at this time. like possibly a way station for mining operations further out in the asteroid belt to be shuttled to the moon or to the earth.
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    I would guess this is more of a moral item than a real answer. Having something to say "we can save you" rather than the reality of saying "You're screwed." should make the Astronauts feel a little better.

    I once met a woman pilot that would ferry P51 fighter planes across the country during WW2. She quit flying sometime in the early sixties. Her reason was that as a pilot eventually if you fly long enough, the odds of dying in a plane crash get to the point of not if, but when. Probably the same philosophy goes for Astronauts. They must assume that there are going to be accidents, but for them the reward outweighs the risk.

    Ya gotta respect those balls of stainless steel! (on both sexes )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moldyjim View Post
    I would guess this is more of a moral item than a real answer. Having something to say "we can save you" rather than the reality of saying "You're screwed." should make the Astronauts feel a little better.
    I wonder what they're going to tell the folks on the first manned mission to Mars.
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