The first really global project

Interview with Jorg Feustel-Buechl, Head of the Department of Manned Space and Microgravitational Research at the European Space Agody ESA, over the rough success of me and plan for the international space station

The first really global project

International Space Station, Image: NASA Mr. Feustel-Buechl, the situation of manned space travel in Europe after the Conference of Space Ministers improved or worsened last May? Jorg Feustel-Buechl: Since the Minister Grunes have given light for the use phase of the international space station, we have achieved some stabilization on the sector of manned space travel. At the moment we are still full in the phase of development, which will take a few more years. But from 2000, the preparation of the usage phase also begins. The ministers have decided in Brussel to carry out this usage phase until the end of the station. That was a fundamental decision. A part decision involves giving us funds for the first two years. Then we will understand each other again with the ministers to initiate the asth stage of use. The German Research Minister Edelgard Bulmahn does not seem to keep as much of this room ride and prefer to send robots to all. Jorg Feustel-Buechl: There are certain reserves at the German Research Minister, but therefore probably that the high German share of the international space station has become small for other projects too small. I hope Brussel has brought something relaxed in this respect. But for us the question is not: manned space or robotics, but it really clears: manned space and robotics. The opposite robotic user of robotics is the manned space travel. On the international space station, four robots will work, regardless of all the other automatic payload facilities we have. The robots do the routine work, while we still need people to watering unforeseen situations today and for the foreseeable time. Against microgravitational research is often turned out that it focuses heavily on medical questions, which in turn are only relevant for spatial drivers, which are actually going into weightlessness. Revolves the research there in a circle? Jorg Feustel-Buechl: No, absolutely not. On the one hand, in addition to medical experiments, we drove research and development in almost all areas. We have on board the station of earth observation programs, astronomical missions, the important area of material research and the perhaps more important area of technologies. On the other hand, medical research certainly no self-purpose is. Of course, there are facets that are being tested as man behaved in space. But the main purpose of medical research is to study processes that accelerate in space, such as the loss of bone mass, and to implement these findings in the soil in better treatment methods. During material research or research on industrial manufacturing processes, it also complains that the rough expectations were not met. Are factories in the orbit continue to have future music? Jorg Feustel-Buechl: So, the idea of factories in Orbit has ever supported nobody in the ESA. Such expectations you have to revise in fact. Material research in space is used primarily two phanomena, namely the vacuum and weightlessness. It is about understanding melting processes and other material-related processes better. From this, a whole series of applications on earth have arisen. An example is about bearings in automobiles that run better, faster and easier than others. They have not been produced in space, but the insights won in space have been implemented in a better product. The same applies to carbon fibers used in railways for brakes. At some point, maybe there may be the factory in space, but at the moment she is not visible yet. Now the international space station is also a coarse cultural experiment in which many different nations work together with different cultural traditions. How to arrange this roughly created cooperation with the simultaneous industrial and international competition? Jorg Feustel-Buechl: Regardless of the experiments we carry on on board the station, this cultural aspect is certainly a dimension that will take in the history bookers. One will not talk so much about this or that experiment in a hundred years, but certainly that this was the first truly global project – not only in the space sector, but generally – in which really all who are interested in the relationship , Together: Japanese, Canadians, Americans, Russians and Europe. The same people who have developed recently weapons systems to kill each other, sit now on the same drawing board and make something together. This is perhaps the most dramatic, positive aspect of the international space station. As far as the industrial competition is concerned, we have no problems. Each partner finances its share, with the money at home with the national industry. But we call for the cooperation among the industrialists, without the transfer of means, in a maximum way so that everything really fits together and the cooperation in the multicultural species works, as we have considered it. With which cleving you see the end of the Russian room station me? Or see a chance to save them? Jorg Feustel-Buechl: No, the end of me is foreseeable. In February, the last mission will start to me to meet the preparations for the targeted crash of the station. There is a lot of negative over the I talked to me. I hold the for completely unjustified. What remains is that this station, which was designed for seven years, will have lived for fourteen years – and not bad. There was natural stungalle. But this stort alle has basically never been dramatic, but were raised in many cases. There was a really brenzy situation when the progress supply capsule collided with the station. This gone a module lost. Apart from that, the Mir-Station has no coarse damage and works awarded today. But sometime every system is obsolete. I see me as a fantastic success. She has shown to whom engineering performance is the Russians. We all benefit from the international room station max. I am convinced that only on the basis of these successes we will hopefully in the end can also bring the international space station to success. Russia seems to be in a similar situation as Germany at the end of the Second World War: All space nations are trying to secure Russian know-how for himself, similarly to the winners who tried to win the German rocket technicians for themselves. Jorg Feustel-Buechl: I do not know if you can compare it so directly. The fact is that Russia is in a tremendous economic situation. In Germany or the USA, one had probably set all activities in the field of new technologies under similar circumstances. It is all the more admirable that the Russians continue to work with coarse vehemence and with significant funds in their space program and the international room station. Undoubtedly, however, it is also that space ride in Russia – apart from guysrackets and the space station once – dramatically driven back. As a result, tens of thousands of people were freely set and thus a lot of know-how. That’s a loss, no question, but no sell-off in the sense that this was all picked up by others. I am confident that the Russians will continue to operate their space activities after this shrinkage process with a reasonable base team. In connection with space travel, more like unlisted, is a lot of science the speech. But science can not answer a question: why should we go to the all? Do you have an answer? Jorg Feustel-Buechl: On the one hand, I think, completely, of course, that man who explored and conquered the earth over centuries, opposed to new shores. This is a natural knowledge of man, beyond the earth in the solar system and sometime maybe once to be oriented. That’s why people look into the stars with the telescope and therefore we operate space travel. The manned space travel now makes a next rough step by having a permanently manned station in the maturity. And I’m sure: in a few years, no one will have more doubts about it. It will be like that with the Ariane rocket, at the beginning, in 1973, almost all were. Today are all very glad that it was built. I am sure that the manned space travel has its purpose. And this purpose is not only a scientific nature, but also has technological and cultural aspects. We will no longer be regional or national and perhaps not even European thinking at all future, coarse projects. The projects are so rough, so expensive and so significant that the way of thinking will be more and more global. The manned space travel is a first step in this direction. Think about the time after the international room station? Jorg Feustel-Buechl: Of course we think about it, but at the moment there are no concrete projects yet. In three or four years, our module, the European Columbus Orbiting Facility, will be up. Then we will have at least ten, maybe even fun for years. So we are fully worked up to about 2020. When the space station preserves what we hope, it will certainly be added one or the other module or improvements are being introduced. I therefore ame that we will also have to do the year 2015 or 2020 with the space station. Of course you have to start in time with the thinking process, as the space station can be expanded to a space station, from which missions to Mars, to the moon or other destinations are started. The use of the earth-close orbit for satellite repair is a possible extension of the functions of the room station. We think about it, but today it is still too early to talk about concrete project decisions. ()

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