NASA Expert Looking at the Future of Manned Space Exploration


How will manned spaceflight continue to develop? Will humans land and walk on Mars? Where will the journey go? William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations for NASA, will venture a glimpse into the future and hold a public lecture titled "From the International Space Station to Mars – The future of manned Space Exploration." The lecture is scheduled for Monday, December 11, 2017, at 6:15pm at lecture hall HO1 of the C.A.R.L. lecture hall complex, Claßenstraße 11, Aachen. Admission is free.


Gerstenmaier's visit takes place against an interesting backdrop: The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment, AMS experiment for short, has been developped and constructed to a great extent at the the I. Institute of Physics at RWTH Aachen University under the direction of Professor Stefan Schael. Since 2011, the AMS has been orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 400 kilometres and has been continuously measuring particles in cosmic rays. With a construction time of 15 years, costs of 1.5 billion US dollars and a weight of seven tons, it is the most involved experiment for the purpose of fundamental research on the space station.

Now one of the most complicated activities that NASA has undertaken so far in outer space is due to take place. Three of the four pumps of the AMS cooling system have stopped working. In order to be able to guarantee the sustained operation of the AMS, a new cooling system has to be mounted by means of Extravehicular activity – not a simple task, considering the fact that the astronauts with their " space-suit-mittens" will have to sever coolant lines only six millimeters in diameter and afterwards reconnect them with the new cooling system. This approximately refridgerator-sized appliance is currently being developed and tested at the I. Institute of Physics by an international team of researchers from the USA, Italy, China, Taiwan, Spain in collaboration with NASA. Professor Klaus Lübelsmeyer is coordinating the work in Aachen while astronauts in the USA are already in training for the difficult assignment in outer space, which is planned to take place in early 2019.

William H. Gerstenmaier is taking the opportunity to see how the work is progressing at the university; after all, ít is now the second time that NASA will be entrusting their astronauts' lives to the Aachen Physicists' technical abilities. Ultimately, the repair work on the AMS is meant to extend the operational lifetime of the experiment until 2028 – the time foreseen as the likely end of operations of the International Space Station.

Source: Press and Communications