NASA wants to put humans on the moon again in the future and is gearing up for the missions along with the ESA. NASA and the ESA recently tested out a system that is designed to allow the recovery of a downed astronaut on the surface of the moon.
The challenge if an astronaut became ill or injured and falls on the moon and is unable to get up is that fellow astronauts can’t pick them up because of the bulky spacesuits they wear.
The ESA has a prototype device called LESA (Lunar Evacuation System Assembly), and it has been in testing on the bottom of the ocean. The ocean bottom and the surface of the moon is said to be similar. LESA allows a single astronaut to deploy a structure and lift an incapacitated crewmember onto a mobile stretcher used to take them to a pressurized lander for treatment.
The ESA says that the entire process for deploying and securing the crewmate to the stretcher should take less than ten minutes. LESA is transported like a golf caddy and placed close to the downed astronaut to provide a lift mechanism and stretcher that is easy to maneuver. The latest version of LESA will be tested over nine days during a mission dubbed Neemo 23.
Astronauts testing the LESA system will wear EVA gloves that are pressurized and limit dexterity and test LESA in an EVA Space Suit simulator. The tests are being conducted at an underwater habitat known as Aquarius.
Officials state that the ESA has been participating in NASA’s NEEMO missions for the past eight years. The agencies have a shared focus on putting astronauts on the surface of the moon as early as 2024. The joint mission paves the way for more NASA-ESA cooperation.