Staying in space demands a
special protection. A cabin is needed which has to be designed and
built with care. Fons constructed two steel gondolas that considering
their mechanical properties were perfect. Weight however is an
important factor, so the use of aluminum as a construction material
could make the gondola 100 kg lighter. Preparing and particularly good
welding of aluminum needs the cooperation of a specialized company.
Thereupon he contacted the firm ELLIMETAL. This company is engaged with
the design, development, manufacturing of equipment for the
process-industry. A sector which gives very high attention to safety.
|"One Person" Test Gondola||Aluminum Gondola||Gondola Hatch|
go out from basic Fons's data such as diameter and height of the
gondola, the number of scuttle-ports and hatches, fastening-points for
the parachute and passages for liquid oxygen and signal cables for
cameras etc., the design engineers went to work. Fons had the
intention, as with all his projects, to build a wide safety factor into
the design. Off course, this was confirmed with a number of empiric
tests. Dimensional and visual control was, among others, supplemented
with 100% "Dye Check" and pressure tests at low temperature in a
freezing cell. The gondola is 2 m in diameter, 2.3 m high and has five
polycarbonate windows, which allow the crew to see out all sides. A
large door also enables the crew to exit the gondola wearing a
parachute, if need be. There are also several parachute systems to
ensure that the gondola can always make a safe landing.
gondola must of course give enough protection against the hostile
environment in space. It is however important, especially during the
ascent, to equip the crew with pressure suits. It is an extra
precaution against the effects of a rapid decompression of the cabin.
The arise of an important leak in the gondola is very improbable but
the crew has to keep it in mind. Pressure suits are not stiff like
space suits but are really special, flexible overalls with an airtight
helmet. Their most important task is to build up the needed minimal
pressure round the body and supply the breathing oxygen. At altitudes
above 50,000 feet or 15,200 meter, man requires a pressurized suit to
be safe in this near space environment. The suits are of course
necessary when the hatch has to be opened to launch the 'space jumper'.
Fons designed the pressure suits and has the knowledge to construct the complex equipment.