Safe Haven Configurations for Deep Space Transit Habitats

September 12, 2017

Authors: David Smitherman, Tara Polsgrove, Justin Rowe, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; Matthew Simon, NASA Langley Research Center.

Figure 10. Configuration 5 (NASA)

Abstract: Throughout the human space flight program there have been instances where systems failures resulting in smoke, fire, and pressure loss have occurred onboard space vehicles, putting crews at risk for loss of mission and loss of life. In most instances the missions have been in Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) or Earth-Moon vicinity, with access to multiple volumes that could be used to quickly seal off the damaged module or access escape vehicles for return to Earth. For long duration missions beyond LEO, including Mars transit missions of about 1100 days, the mass penalty for multiple volumes and operating in an environment where a quick return will not be possible have been concerns. In 2016, a study was done to investigate a variety of dual pressure vessel configurations for habitats that could protect the crew from these hazards. It was found that with a modest increase in total mass it should be possible to provide significant protection for the crew. Several configurations were considered that either had a small safe haven to provide 30-days to recover, or a full duration safe haven using two equal size pressure vessel volumes. The 30-day safe haven was found to be the simplest, yielding the least total mass impact but still with some risk if recovery is not possible during that timeframe. The full duration safe haven was the most massive option but provided the most robust solution. This paper provides information on the various layouts developed during the study and provides a discussion of the findings for implementing a safe haven in future habitat designs.

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