NASA Recently announced the astronauts who would take part in the Artemis mission and among them also Anne McClain, who spent 203 days orbiting and running two spacewalks on the ISS. With the space industry having nothing to look like 10 years ago and new spacecraft and technologies were on the rise, McClain shared his thoughts on how he and other astronauts would be embracing the future.
Lt Col McClain’s time aboard the ISS lasted from December 2018 to June 2019, meaning Russia’s Soyuz capsule had both its ascent and descent as astronauts went into space from the days of the shuttle. The Artemis mission, however, will use several newly launched vehicles and spacecraft. And while she was not ready to fly the dragon capsule, she had to do an investigation while docked at the station.
“I was very happy to blow up the Soyuz, because it’s a reliable, basic spacecraft – it’s almost like flying a piece of history – knowing that I’m going to be able to compare it to other vehicles in the future,” he said. “I had an opportunity to go to the space station when the DM-1 took off. And so, being able to swim in it and see their screen, their monitor, you immediately notice that the technology is advanced where it looks like the inside of a commercial airliner. “
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Bihken were the first to orbit a dragon in orbit, and later said it was “definitely different”, partly because of its reliance on touchscreens as the primary interface for many spacecraft functions. because of. McClain emphasized the difficulty of obtaining software to the point where one can be trusted with one’s life.
“Most of the vehicles we are using now are very heavy on software – a lot of touchscreens, not a lot of valves that were physically moving, it is like a software relay. But this adds a huge amount of complexity, because as your readers are probably well aware, the software is difficult to approve and the reliability of the software, ”she explained.
We want to understand our systems well so that we can interact in ways they might not be ready to do directly.
“We are always considering the question, when should humans be in the loop, and when should it be automated? And if it is automated, how can we prove that the software has sufficient reliability for human spaceflight Have? At some point you have to say, ‘You know if this happens, we will put a human in the loop,’ because you are not paralyzed by 10 years of software testing. ‘
As a pilot himself, McClain is naturally opinionated, and, like Hurley and Bacon, worked quickly with SpaceX.
“I was lucky enough to work with Bob and Doug, advise SpaceX early on their cockpit controls, and I think from where they met, it’s a really incredible machine,” he said of Orion and Starliner Crafts Attract similar attention from experts. like him.
Yes, the name of that company has not built a spaceship – but there are people in those halls who have built the spacecraft. The talent that created the space shuttle and space station has now spread to the commercial industry.
Flexibility was predominant in desired aspects; If things move a bit away from the script, they need to be flexible, not self-limiting.
“I think, pilot, we always want the option, don’t we?” Whatever it is, we want options. As much as we try to predict the scenarios on the ground, we are always conscious that there may be something that was not predicted, and at that point… we want the option, “He said.” We want to understand our systems well so that we can interact in ways they might not be ready to do directly. So it’s really important to me that the software doesn’t substitute from the table That’s why at NASA, they look at the Apollo 13 case when we had to use hardware and software and vehicles in ways we never predicted. “
When I asked if working with new companies like Blue Origin was different or weird, McClain said that the only thing really, is the name of the new thing.
“I have worked with these companies to find out something, and it is that yes, the name of that company has not built a spaceship – but there are people in those halls who have built the spacecraft. The talent that created the space shuttle and space station has now spread to the commercial industry, which NASA wants to do. It is our human capital, ”he explained. “I am convinced of the other thing, the way NASA partners with these companies, for testing programs and design reviews, that’s all.” So by the time the rocket is on me on the pad, I am confident that I have confidence in the checks and balances we have. “
That technology, it helps bring the Earth into the spacecraft with us.
In the end I asked about whether any suitability of modern consumer technology made it more convenient to spend long hours in space, for example the recent ability to make video calls. McClain was quick to respond in the affirmative.
“What you said is fine. Imagine if we were in this epidemic and were not able to video chat – we’re already feeling isolated from our loved ones. And you know, feeling disconnected from that. Whether you are on the other side of the country or you are in space. So the ability for us to see the faces of our parents on screen and talk to them, it really works wonders, ”she said. “And it’s not just morale. You know, you start looking at six-month, twelve-month missions, it’s really about maintaining the psyche, maintaining human mental health. So that technology, it’s going to make the Earth Helps bring with us to spacecraft. “
McClain is one of 18 astronauts who will participate in missions leading up to the planned moon landing. You can meet the rest of the people here.