Space Exploration: Affordable for all Countries
With 78 participating countries, 2,736 scientific papers, 3,000 participants, out of whom 10 percent are from Mexico and 90 percent from other countries, the 67th International Astronautical Congress that took place under the motto “Space accessible and affordable to all countries,” recently concluded in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“Of course Space exploration has to do with geopolitics, but also with our genes,” said Jan Woerner, head of the European Space Agency, “and with our missions, we inspire young people and motivate them for the future.”
DFH Satellite Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced the beginning of the construction of commercial remote sensing satellites constellation on September 2015. By the end of 2015, the company launched 59 satellites. The VRSS-1, developed by DFH, was the first Chinese commercial optical remote sensing satellite exported to Venezuela.
China Manned Space Programme offers an opportunity for international cooperation. In June 2016, China conducted the debut flight mission of the Long March 7 (CZ-7) carrier rocket to construct its manned space station. The mission also involved the inauguration of the new Wenchang Space Launch Center, open to the international community. TG-2 space lab was launched in the middle of September 2016, and will be followed by a manned space flight mission in October, 2016.
China’s National Space Administration, announced that 100 satellites will be launched over the next 10 years, most of them for remote sensing, as well as several manned and unmanned space missions.
Russia described their cosmonautics development for the decade, including the Federal Space Program for 2016-2025. The ISS Russian Segment utilization and construction of the ISS RS modules will include Multipurpose Laboratory Module Nauka (Science), Node Module Prichal (Berth), and Scientific-Power Module. Human spacecraft of a new-generation is developed for missions to Low Earth Orbit and to cis-lunar orbits. The vehicle will be launched to LEO in 2021 atop the Angara-5P launcher which is under development.
Representatives from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, INMARSAT and the United Kingdom and others discussed satellite communications and making connectivity accessible and affordable to Latin-American Countries to reduce the digital divide, connectivity and internet access to millions.
Climate change and the role of the space missions in the fight against climate change was also discussed.
The Canadian Space Agency, announced OSIRIS-REx, the first joint mission with the US to bring back a sample from asteroid Bennu to earth. The mission will help answer fundamental questions about how our solar system formed, how life began and how we can avoid asteroid impacts with earth. OSIRIS-REx will also afford us a better understanding of one of the most potentially hazardous asteroids.
NASA reported that it is working with several nations to go to Mars. While India wasn’t the first country to reach Mars, NASA is working with India and with the United Arab Emirates to search the lower, middle and upper atmospheres. The UAE hopes to reach Mars in 2021.
The next selections of NASA astronauts will take place in 2017 and there are already 18,000 applicants and there are joint projects that NASA has with other countries including Nigeria, where the project with NASA is hoped to inspire students to study science.
Mikhail Kornienko, cosmonaut in the 1-year mission on ISS, with Scott Kelly said he volunteered for that mission “out of curiosity.” “It gave me huge experience! Now I can give advice to astronauts how to go to Mars. And I recovered within a few weeks, fast, after the 1-year mission. Next day after arrival, I swam 1 kilometre.” What was the most memorable thing from that mission? “Scott Kelly.” The audience responded with laughter and applause.
Kornienko stressed that “the success of a space mission depends on good crew composition, flying with the right people.” “I didn’t notice any cognitive limitations in space or problems of misinterpretations…”
NASA also presented the fluid shifts studies made by NASA because ocular structural and functional modifications occur in astronauts’ vision, even during short flights, and some modifications are permanent, due to higher intracranial blood pressure. NASA investigated the cause, together with other modifications that take place in the human body that may result in medical conditions. For example, continuous floating in space does not allow the human body to stand up for months, even a year and may lead to bone and muscle afflictions.
NASA further discussed research on the human body in space and the protocols in place to ensure smoother recovery. The spokesman commented that “when Mikhail Kornienko says he recovered so soon, it means that the protocols are working and it is encouraging to see how the body resists beyond the 180 days we already had results for. We also had the unexpected advantage of the research on the twins, astronauts, Scot and Mark Kelly, to study the genome of the twin who went into the space compared to the one who remained here on earth.”
A panel discussed possible visions and roadmaps towards a sustainable global Moon Village and Mars Journey, accessible and affordable for all.
Russia, mentioned the Moon Village as a goal of the Russian Federations and the joint mission with ESA.
SPACEnter, an experiment of CELSS, is a large multinational “human-environment” experiment conducted by China. Based on the third-generation life support technology, this study will examine the concordant effects of a physical-chemical regenerative and bio regenerative life support systems. The experiment has attracted space medicine and ecological system experimental projects.
A New Horizons Project Scientist from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, was selected by NASA in November 2001 to conduct the first in situ reconnaissance of Pluto and the Kuiper belt. The NH spacecraft received a gravity assist from Jupiter during closest approach on 2007 and flew 12,500 km above Pluto’s surface in 2015. NH carried seven scientific instruments enabling the first detailed exploration of a new class of solar system objects, dwarf planets, which have exotic volatiles on their surfaces which escape atmosphere, and satellite systems.
Cornell University, explained the exploration of the Saturn System which provides a natural laboratory for studying the emergence of life from pre-biotic chemistry to contemporary habitability of salt-water oceans.
Other participants described the Stardust network of over 20 members, including European Space Agency companies such as Airbus DS and Deimos, national observatories such as the Paris Observatory and the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade, and SMEs like Dinamica and SpaceDys. Universities such as the University of Tor Vergata, the University of Pisa, the University Polytechnic of Madrid, the University of Southampton, the University of Munich, DFKI in Bremen and the University of Arizona are participants.
The topics discussed at the 67th International Astronautical Congress provided an inspirational update on the current level of space research.
Editor’s note: this article was edited to reflect that India wasn’t the first country to reach Mars.