Best idea I've heard in years: matching the first major commercial launcher+spacecraft company up with the first commercial space station company.
Skip the suborbital flights, let's visit the Orbital Hilton!
SpaceX has signed a partnership deal with Bigelow Aerospace (BA) to offer a taxi service to and from the inflatable habitats BA intends to put into orbit. A SpaceX representative told El Reg that it expect to be ready for manned flight by 2015, and commercial services would start shortly afterwards. Bigelow is partnering with …
This post has been deleted by its author
"If all it took was a working spacesuit to get a ticket, i'd be building one....
Its just a pressure suit with life support system... how hard can that be for a reg reader?"
Welll-llll... not so fast, there, Sparky. You've got to consider thermal and micrometeoroid protection, a comms system, internal heating/cooling, power for your life-support pack and your internal heating/cooling pumps -- not to mention serious mobility issues, and... well, just have a look at this...
Have a good time. Don't forget to pre-breathe.
"Inflatable Structures Technology Handbook - Chapter 21; Inflatable Habitats"
EXPORT CONTROLLED. DO NOT DISTRIBUTE!
"The technologies required to design, fabricate, and utilize an inflatable module for space applications has been demonstrated and proven by the TransHab team during the development phase of the program. Through testing and hands-on development several issues about inflatable space structures have been addressed , such as: ease of manufacturing, structural integrity, micrometeorite protection, folding , and vacuum deployment. The TransHab inflatable technology development program has proven that not only are inflatable structures a viable option, but they also offer significant advantages over conventional metallic structures."
"The TransHab shield consists of several layers of NextelTM ceramic fabric layers that are separated by open cell polyurethane foam . The purpose of the foam is to provide a standoff distance between the Nextel layers. The foam is vacuum compressed prior to launch , to minimize volume and allow the shell to be easily folded. On orbit, in the vacuum of space , the foam regains its original standoff thickness due to the resilience of the foam and lack of differential pressure. Behind the alternating layers of Nextel and foam is a high strength KevlarTM fabric rear wall. As the hypervelocity particle impacts each of the multiple Nextel layers , it is continually shattered into smaller, slower particles over a larger area. With a properly sized shield , by the time the particles reach the Kevlar rear wall, they are small and slow enough to be stopped."
Cheers for that, finding this stuff isn't always easy on a phone's screen. I'm guessing Nextel is lighter but not as strong as Kevlar? I'll have a route around in the doc you linked later, I'll be interested to see how they do radiation shielding on these things (or if Bigelow really bothered with it at all since the pods are only ever likely to ever be deployed in LEO).
Something to keep handy in an inflatable module is a sticky patch kit. In case of puncture, Hold the patch near the hole, and suction will slap it into place. Then smooth out the edges and probably add a few more layers of patch.
Nextel (TM) is a 3M company ceramic fiber. ( http://www.3m.com/market/industrial/ceramics/misc/tech_notebook.html ). For meteor/debris shields the advantage over Kevlar is the high temperature properties. At orbital speeds, *everything* is moving fast enough to melt or vaporize on impact. So your first layer of Nextel produces a splatter of hot droplets and vapor, including some of the Nextel. Further layers are there to contain the hot splatter.
Another reason to use Nextel over Kevlar, is Kevlar is an organic compound, and low Earth orbits have a significant amount of atomic oxygen ions around, which will eat organics. That's why most everything in orbit is covered with fiberglass or other materials not subject to oxidation.
Genuinely curious, as it also often gets cited as a key justification for the expense of ISS, but is there really a queue of companies performing zero-G research, and of a sufficiently compelling nature that they will pay market rates for it (ie that the Bigelow habitat will be self-funding through this)? I quite understand that there are processes that can't be performed under normal gravitational conditions and that these are interesting to study but are many real companies digging into their own pockets for this?
Of the 6 crew on the ISS it usually works out that 2.5 of them are looking after the station and the other 3.5 are running experiments so there's a fair bit being done. It's a very bureaucratic and time consuming process getting an experiment flown though, and being willing to pay market rate doesn't help. You've also got J. Random Astronaut or Josef Cosmonaut running your experiment if it does get there, one major advantage with a Space-X/Bigelow lab is likely to be being able to fly your own researcher. NASA used to fly researchers (one of the most flown astronauts pre-Challenger was the employee of a company repeatedly flying an experiment) but stopped.
330 square meters of space
Presumably thats the surface area of the inside of the cylinder.
If we guess that the diameter is 6 metres, the ends will be 2 x 9 x pi ~= 56m^2
and the length of the cylinder will be (330 -56) / 6pi ~= 14m
That's not a lot of room for growing space potatoes.
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020