JAKARTA, NNC - A spacecraft will be equipped with an emergency ‘take me home’ button. The button will automatically "take" the missing astronauts in space and return them to the space station.
This could prove to be a life-saver for astronauts who are lost in space. In addition to being controlled by astronauts themselves, the buttons can also be activated by mission control members in the field.
Such an emergency tool will avoid the nightmare scenario depicted in the 2013 Gravity movie when two astronauts were lost in space.
"An astronaut is at risk of experiencing the worst-case scenario, missing out in space," said Kevin Duda, a space engine engineer at Draper based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as quoted by the Daily Mail website on Sunday (12/10/2017).
Kevin said, although there is no deadline in this study, it has done some initial prototypes with NASA to improve the design and test the ability to return astronauts automatically. "Conservatively, we see the development of this tool in the range of five to ten years," he said.
Kevin has studied astronauts and their environment on board the International Space Station. He and his colleagues recently applied for a patent for a self-contained return system to ensure astronauts are safe, even if no other astronaut can save them.
Despite facing many challenges, Kevin ensures that the system must be able to determine the exact location in a space environment where GPS is not available. The button must calculate the optimal return path that takes into account the time requirements, oxygen consumption, safety and cleaning.