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posted by martyb on Friday December 08 2017, @12:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the mounted-adjacent-to-the-"Easy"-button dept.

An engineering company is developing an automated system to help get spacewalking astronauts to safety. Spacewalking astronauts at the International Space Station currently wear a Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) jet backpack that must be manually controlled:

Getting stranded during a spacewalk is a terrifying scenario for any astronaut to imagine — but what if space station crew members could simply press a button during such an event and be immediately transported back to safety?

That's the idea behind new technology in development dubbed the "Take Me Home" button. It's a complex system of hardware and software that could be incorporated into a space suit and can automatically guide an astronaut home during an emergency in space. The concept is currently being developed with partial NASA funding at Draper, an engineering company with a long history of creating technologies for crewed spaceflight.


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  • (Score: 2) by leftover on Friday December 08 2017, @12:38AM (3 children)

    by leftover (2448) on Friday December 08 2017, @12:38AM (#607057)

    Really, this sounds like it would be a blast to develop and test in a nice safe environment.
    However, if I am ever outside a space station or vehicle wearing little more than an inflated balloon, I would want something that Just Works even if I am unconscious, there is a power failure, plus whatever other forms of poop-to-fan conditions can arise. A sturdy tether with the inside end on a big fishing reel tended by a buddy seems like a good start. Adding a strand of tubing for air to replace leaks would be reassuring too. Being thruster-propelled through a possible debris field, nope.

    --
    Bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Friday December 08 2017, @12:44AM

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday December 08 2017, @12:44AM (#607058) Journal

      SAFER is designed to be used as a self-rescue device if in spite of precautions such as tethers, safety grips, and the robot arm an EVA crewmember gets separated and no vehicles can provide rescue capability. SAFER is worn by every ISS crewmember using an Extravehicular Mobility Unit.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Friday December 08 2017, @01:08PM

      by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Friday December 08 2017, @01:08PM (#607169) Homepage
      If it was for RosCosmos not NASA, they's just repurpose a vaccuum-cleaner's mains cable retraction mechanism. It works, doesn't it? Apart from that slight whiplash at the end.
      --
      Life is a precious commodity. A wise investor would get rid of it when it has the highest value.
    • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Friday December 08 2017, @03:34PM

      by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday December 08 2017, @03:34PM (#607221)

      Going fishing for astronauts.

      --
      "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08 2017, @01:20AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08 2017, @01:20AM (#607062)

    If a Take Me Home button results in an audio playback of John Denver, the resultant risk of PTSD must be mitigated.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Gaaark on Friday December 08 2017, @01:35AM

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08 2017, @01:35AM (#607064) Homepage Journal

    So, an autonomous rescue pack?

    What does it do if a kid runs out in front of it? Or an old lady falls in front of it and can't get back up?

    Does it just kill the kid or old lady, or does it veer off, thus maybe sacrificing the astronaut?

    Guess the astronaut will always have to be ready to take control and won't be able to eat chips and watch Farscape. Frell....I wouldn't want to be an astronaut if I can't eat chips and watch Farscape.

    --
    --- That's not flying: that's... falling... with more luck than I have. ---
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Some call me Tim on Friday December 08 2017, @03:16AM (1 child)

    by Some call me Tim (5819) on Friday December 08 2017, @03:16AM (#607074)

    Astronaut: Suit, take me home!
    Suit: Are you sure?
    Astronaut: Yes I'm sure, hurry up!
    Suit: Calculating entry burn for return to Earth... Firing thrusters!
    Astronaut: Oh shit!

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08 2017, @05:40AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08 2017, @05:40AM (#607104)

      Kansas, "There's no place like home!" And the little dog, too.

  • (Score: 2) by pkrasimirov on Friday December 08 2017, @10:46AM

    by pkrasimirov (3358) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08 2017, @10:46AM (#607150)

    I need this as a KSP mod!

  • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Friday December 08 2017, @03:38PM

    by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday December 08 2017, @03:38PM (#607225)
    --
    "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
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