European Space Agency has announced that two of NASA’s mission NEEMO 23 astronauts are currently testing a device that can be used to rescue missions in case of accident. In order to find out the viability of the device, the astronauts will take the Lunar Evacuation System Assembly, or LESA to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
As you can see from the image above, LESA is a pyramid like structure designed to lift an astronaut from ground and to a stretcher in case s/he is immobilized. According to ESA, the entire process will take less than 10 minutes. With LESA, the agency expects that astronomers will be able to rescue others in case something goes wrong in future space missions.
“There is no way an astronaut could carry their fallen crewmate over their shoulder while wearing an EVA (extravehicular activities) suit. Our objective was to bring all the rescue actions into the working range of the EVA-suited astronaut to ensure a rapid and safe rescue,” said Hervé Stevenin, ESA head of spacewalk training and Neutral Buoyancy Facility operations.
In order to simulate the environment of the Moon, the group will take LESA at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Afterwards, as part of a nine-day mission, ESA’s Samantha Christoforetti and NASA’s Jessica Watkins will deploy the prototype during an underwater spacewalk. Then, the duo will try to use the prototype while keeping the limitations of a real EVA suite into account.
ESA expects that with the feedbacks from the current mission, scientists will be able to take LESA’s design even further. This is the second version of the device after astronauts Pedro Duque and Kjell Lindgren tested the first version back in 2017.