Everything Wondered About the Space Station
The space station, also known as the orbital station or orbital space station, is a type of spacecraft that can accommodate people in orbit for a long time. It lacks the landing and launching systems. Stations must have points where other spacecraft can be connected to transfer crew and materials.
Creating a security point in orbit varies according to plan. Although space stations have been sent for military purposes until now, they were generally sent to space for scientific purposes. As of 2020, the International Space Station (ISS), which allows more ground and long-term research than any other spacecraft, has been placed in low Earth orbit permanently and completely, as it has been used to investigate the effects of life on the human body in space. In addition to countries such as China, India, Russia, and the USA, organizations such as Bigelow Aerospace and Axiom Space are planning other stations for the coming years.
History of the Space Station
The first idea for the Space Station was introduced in Edward Everett Hale’s 1869 book “The Brick Moon.” Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Hermann Oberth spoke seriously and scientifically for the first time about space stations in the early 1900s, 20 years apart. In 1929, The Problem of Space Travel was published, in which Herman Potočnik first mentioned the spinning wheel model space station that generates an artificial gravitational force. Conceptualized during the Second World War, the “solar weapon” is a theoretical orbital weapon that travels around the Earth at an altitude of 8,200 kilometers. No further research has been done on this topic. In 1951, Werner von Braun Collier published the concept of a spinning wheel model space station in the Weekly, referring to Potočnik’s idea. However, nothing was done about this spinning wheel model space station in the 20th century.
In the second half of the 20th century, the Soviet Union developed and launched the world’s first space station, Salyut-1. After Almaz and Salyut, Skylab, Mir, Tiangong-1, and Tiangong-2 joined them.
The equipment developed during the first Soviet trials is orbiting today, with improved versions that make up a significant part of the International Space Station.
Each crew member stays on the ship for weeks or months, rarely more than a year. Starting with the Soyuz 11 crew’s unfortunate flight to Salyut 1, all the last human spaceflight time records were determined at the space stations. The time record for a single spaceflight is 437.75 days, which took place aboard the Mir ship from 1994 to 1995 by Valeri Polyakov. As of 2016, four cosmonauts completed a single mission for more than a year, all with Mir. The last military-use Space Station was the Soviet Salyut 5, launched under the Almaz program and orbited between 1976 and 1977.
First Solid Stations (1971-1986)
The first stations were generally monolithic designs that were built and thrown in one piece, containing every material and resource needed. The crew was also launched into the station and participated in the research. The vehicle would be abandoned after the resources were used and consumed.
Salyut-1 was the first space station, launched by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. Previous Soviet stations were all called Salyut, but they were divided into military and civilian. The military stations Salyut 2, Salyut 3, and Salyut 5 are also known as Almaz.
The Salyut 6 and Salyut 7 civilian stations had two anchor points, enabling a second crew to arrive and another spacecraft to hold onto. Civilian stations Salyut 6 and Salyut 7 were built with two docks that allowed a second crew to visit, bringing with them a new spacecraft; Soyuz could spend 90 days in space. At this point, it had to be replaced by a new Soyuz spacecraft.
This allowed one crew to manage the station continuously. American Skylab (1973-1979) was equipped with double berths like second-generation stations, but no additional berths were utilized. The second dock at the new stations allowed Progress cargo vehicles to be connected to the station, which can provide resource assistance in long-term missions. This idea was developed with Salyut-7 permanently docked with the TKS tug, shortly before the idea of using modular space stations was abandoned. Later, for certain reasons, Salyut ships were seen as a transition between the two groups.
Unlike previous stations, the Soviet station Mir had a modular design in which the main module was first placed in orbit, then additional modules for the purpose were added to the station. This method made it possible to implement the operation more flexibly and the extremely powerful launch vehicle was removed. Modular stations were designed from the very beginning to be provided by the logistics support ship, which promises longer life, at the cost of regular support. Modules are still designed based on Mir’s capabilities and design.
Tiangong 1 and Tiangong 2 (2011–2019)
China’s first space lab, Tiangong-was launched on September 1, 2011. The uncrewed Shenzhou 8 then held an automatic meeting and berthing in November 2011. The crewed Shenzhou 9 then approached Tiangong-1 in June 2012 and the crewed Shenzhou 10 in 2013. A second space lab, Tiangong-2, was launched in September 2016, a plan for Tiangong-3 was merged with Tiangong-2. In May 2017, China reported to the United Nations Office of Foreign Space Affairs that the altitude of Tiangong-1 had dropped and would soon enter the atmosphere and disintegrate.
Entry into the atmosphere was predicted to occur in late March or early April 2018. Tiangong-1 re-entered via the South Pacific Ocean northwest of Tahiti at 00.15 UTC on April 2, 2018, according to the China Office of Manned Space Engineering. In July 2019, the Chinese Office of Manned Space Engineering announced plans to change the orbit of Tiangong-2 shortly, but no specific date has been given. The station then made a controlled entry into the atmosphere on July 19 and burned down over the South Pacific Ocean.
Those Still On The International Space Station (1998-present)
The International Space Station is divided into two main divisions, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) and the US Orbital Segment (USOS). Zarya, the first module of the International Space Station, was launched in 1998. The “second generation” modules of the Russian Orbital Segment were able to launch on the Proton, fly into the correct orbit, and dock without human intervention. Links; done automatically for power, data, gases, and propellants. The Russian autonomous approach allows the assembly of space stations before the crew is launched.
Russian “second generation” modules can be reconfigured to suit changing needs. As of 2009, RKK Energia was considering the idea of removing and reusing some modules of ROS on the Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex after the completion of the mission for the ISI. However, in September 2017, the head of Roscosmos said that the technical feasibility of separating the station to form OPSEK has been studied and there are no longer plans to separate the Russian segment from the ISI. In response, the main US modules were launched within Space Shuttle and were added to ISI by teams during EVA’s.
Connections for electrical power, data, drive, and cooling fluids are also made at this time; this resulted in an integrated module block that was not designed for disassembly and had to be taken out of orbit as a single mass. Axiom Orbital Segment is a commercial segment planned to be added to the ISI as of the mid-2020s. Axiom Space received NASA approval for the initiative in January 2020.
Up to three Axiom modules will be added to the International Space Station. The first module will be launched in 2024 at the latest and will be placed in Harmony’s forward port, which requires the repositioning of the PMA-2. Axiom Space plans to add up to two additional modules to its first core module and send private astronauts to live in modules. The modules will one day be allocated to Axiom Station, similar to the OPSEK proposed by Russia.
Space stations are generally made of durable materials that will be protected from radiation, internal pressure, micrometeoroids, thermal effects of the sun, and cold air for a long time. It is typically made of stainless steel, titanium, and quality aluminum alloys and has insulating layers such as Kevlar as ballistic shield protection.
In addition to short-term problems such as the Space Station environment, limited air, water, and food supply, and waste energy management, there are problems caused by being in an environment with no gravity and radiation for a long time. These issues can cause long-term health problems for the crew, including muscle wasting, osteoporosis, balance problems, visual disturbances, and an increased risk of cancer.
Molds formed on the Space Station can produce acids that can degrade metal, glass, and rubber. Despite the array of molecular approaches developed to detect microorganisms, fast and reliable ways of determining the varying living conditions of microbial cells as a function of phylogenetic lineage have still not been discovered.