Thursday, June 4, 2009

Living in Space

The primary source of space debris has been material losses from work done in space and explosively destroyed devices. The first is unavoidable under present protocols and the later is by choice. The point that I am making is that we are not actually living up there in a meaningful way and we already produce way too much junk.

The solution is a space operations protocol that makes it almost impossible for debris to get free in the first place. That can be done by adopting a spindle hub to a monofilament bubble that has a tire like cross section. The ‘tire wall’ can be very deep permitting a bubble diameter of even a kilometer or much more as experience and need determine. This initial component should be light and easy to deploy.

The spindle acts as the zero gravity work zone for docking and transshipment to the habitat. The bubble or ‘tire’ can be inflated with air and the system can be spun up to achieve a rotational velocity capable of providing artificial gravity at the outer perimeter and stabilizing the overall shape.

All further work takes place inside the bubble habitat and is accessed through the spindle. Thus any debris will be plausibly, after much improvement, be arrested at the outer shell wall.

Once set up, an easy next step is to strengthen the skin with internal small stronger patches that are laid down and edge attached, then inflated with polyurethane foam or some other space friendly foam that also acts as a binder. When this shell is set up and strengthened to handle possible penetration by debris it is a simple next step to attach hubs on the spindle able to carry cables able to hold bridges close to the shell and stacked inward as construction continues. In that manner to is possible to fabricate a space station with inertial gravity while doing the construction in a living atmosphere and capturing all debris as it comes free. The shell itself is easily reinforced to whatever strength levels deemed wise and also readily repaired with patching protocols when penetration occurs.

This design concept lends itself to safe operations and ease of fabrication. It can also be made supernaturally strong by the expedient of using superior suspension cables. And a station disc with a diameter of one kilometer and a thickness of a hundred meters could easily provide several million square meters of living and work space while continuously been designed and built out.

The skin methodology also lends itself to layering foil to lower radiation damage to the occupants. Protection from the more egregious forms is a bit more of a challenge but with an engineering design based on suspension it is plausible once resources are available from space.

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