NASA argued that the International Space Station’s Commercial Spaceship could be used as a lifeboat or emergency shelter in case something terrible happens. Since 2011, when NASA’s Space Shuttle program was interrupted, the space agency depended on Soyuz crafts developed by Russia. NASA used these spaceships to deploy and welcome back astronauts who worked on the International Space Station that orbits at 250 miles above our planet.
NASA is bound to use a commercial spaceship as a lifeboat or as an emergency shelter in case it is needed
The space agency is currently hoping to start using US-developed spaceships, implementing them into service. Nevertheless, manufacturers need to be very careful when developing such rockets since they need to have some particular features. Boeing and SpaceX are currently working on building their own spacecraft. Boeing is working on their CST-100 Starliner, and SpaceX is developing its Crew Dragon rocket.
Both spaceships are bound to be used for crewed spaceflights. Based on the data provided by NASA, these space vehicles should be able to serve as space taxis, lifeboats, but also as emergency shelters. Kathy Lueders, the manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, pointed out that it will be difficult for them to bring online some particular systems, but their primary purpose is to have a spaceship which can be easily used by astronauts in case a disaster happens, and they could use it as an emergency shelter.
They also need to implement an emergency protocol listing all possible dangerous situations and how to act
They could get on this extra spacecraft to get away from the ISS and get back home, in case this is needed. Nevertheless, it is hard for scientists to define exactly what an emergency situation could look like and what degree of threat should pose to the crew for them to evacuate the ISS on a spare spaceship. Therefore, NASA officials have thought about choosing a teamwork approach to make sure they list all the possible scenarios in which an emergency shelter like this can be used.
Up to this point, the International Space Station did not experience any dangerous situation which could have determined them to evacuate, requiring for an emergency protocol of this nature. However, when people are so far away from their loved ones, they need to think of all possible safety measures because they have no hospitals or doctors who could help them.
In the case of an ammonia leak or an electrical issue, they could use the emergency protocol to decide upon what the next step is and how they could solve the problems.
Image source: wikipedia