The construction and control of the next generation of spacecraft by astronaut Anne McClain


NASA has recently named the astronauts who will serve in the Artemis flights, including Anne McClain, who completed 203 days in space and carried out two ISS spacewalks. McClain expressed her views on how she, as well as other astronauts, will accept the future, with the space sector looking hardly anything like it did ten years ago with new rockets and technology on the rise. 

Lt. Col. McClain’s duration onboard the ISS lasted from 2018 December to June 2019, indicating that both her ascent as well as descent were on board Russia’s Soyuz capsules, as, since the shuttle days, space explorers have come to and from the orbit. Several new launch vehicles, as well as satellites, will be used in the Artemis missions, though. She did not try one out when it was anchored at the station, even though she did not get to pilot a Dragon capsule.

“I was so pleased to have piloted the Soyuz, as it’s such a robust, basic spacecraft, kind of like flying a slice of history, recognizing that in the coming days I would be able to correlate that with other vehicles,” she stated. When I was in this space station when DM-1 launched, I had the chance. You instantly find that the technology has evolved to where it feels like the interior of the commercial airliner, having the capability to float into it as well as a glance at their windows, their displays. The first to fly a Dragon in space were explorers Doug Hurley as well as Bob Behnken, who said afterward that it was “certainly very different,” partially due to the dependency on touchscreens as key controllers for many spaceship operations. McClain demonstrated the challenge of bringing tech to the level where one’s life can be assured. 

“Many of the vehicles we now use are very high on tech, plenty of touchscreens, not so many manually rotating valves; it’s almost like a relay of software. However, it adds a tremendous amount of difficulty, so it is challenging to approve applications and the durability of software as your readers are hopefully well-aware,” she clarified.

“We still look at the issue of when should a person be in a loop, as well as when should the loop be automated? But if it’s automatic, how do we prove that the program has adequate human spaceflight dependability? One has to realize at some level, ‘You know what, if anything happens, we are going to put a person in the process,’ so that 10 years of machine testing won’t cripple you.” McClain, as a pilot herself, naturally has thoughts on this and collaborated with SpaceX early on, including Hurley as well as Behnken.

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