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Bigelow Aerospace - long term


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#1 DocM

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 02:50

It starts with Space Complex Alpha in 2014-2015 and moves on to other missions. These were presented at a recent space conference and the Deputy NASA Administrator was very, very interested in how these would affect exploration logistics.

Yes, they're very serious. Mr. Bigelow is a multi-billionaire with a mission, and he's building a 180,000 sq/ft factory to crank out these modules in Las Vegas with plans for another near KSC.

(excuse the wrinkles & shine - photos under bright exhibit hall lights)

SC Bravo (to be followed by other SC's
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Resupply Depot Hercules (space dock)

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Deep Space Complex (planetary orbit to support landing sorties)

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Advanced Medical Facility (triage/treatment/Earth transport as space population increases)
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#2 OP DocM

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 03:14

This one is a special case. Bigelow has patented a means of assembling modules and several modified propulsion buses into a land-able base, to assembled at EML-1 (Earth/Moon Lagrange point) which could put down, do whatever, then because the buses are re-fuelable they could potentially re-locate the base.

What looks like yak's hair on the habs are Kevlar/Vectran tubes filled with lunar regolith (soil) and draped over the habs as enhanced radiation and meteor shielding. The means for generating and positiong these is also a Bigelow patent.

The propulsion buses also incorporate the landing gear, air locks, berthing ports and folding stairs. Extra thruster fuel is generated by electrolyzing waste water & excess humidity.

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#3 neoadorable

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 14:02

WOW is all i can say amid jizzing my pants and spasming like a lunatic. sign me up for one of them Hercules babies. you basically had me at "regolith". any mention of regolith and i'm smitten. all of these look awesome, thanks much for posting. but a question - are these space stations or ships? they look like they could fly off to Mars on their own, and one of the posters does imply that.

as for Bigelow - nice and well, but is he a wholly-owned subsidiary of Haden Industries? hey Doc...wanna go for a ride?

#4 OP DocM

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 17:16

Most of their designs are bases/space stations but a few use modules as spacecraft habs. The Deep Space Complex would be a mix - transportation there and back, but once there serving as an orbital base launching sorties to Mars and its moons. They also have designs for lunar and asteroid missions, and NASA's NAUTILUS-X interplanetary ship concept uses them as habs, and uses their basic tech for its toroidal artificial gravity centrifuge.

They're adaptable to either role, and the habs can themselves fly free, allowing them to be replaced or serve as lifeboats because each has independent solar power, stores, galley, bathroom, radiation shelter, propulsion and the ability to make thruster fuel from waste water.

Bigelow Aerospace is a privately held company owned by Robert T. Bigelow and is headquartered in Las Vegas. He made his billions as the owner of Budget Suites of America. He's committed $500M to developing the tech since 1998 and has spent less than half, including a full mission control center (operational), 2 orbiting Genesis prototypes, that big new factory, contracts with Aerojet & others for propulsion module components (in delivery), guidance and life support (in long term human trials now) and joint projects with Lockheed-Martin, Boeing and SpaceX.

Mr. Big budgets his money wisely.

#5 guru

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 17:43

whoa! I'd have thought space flight would be the first commercial step but this takes it to whole another level.

@DocM appreciate your informative posts this forum (Y)

#6 neoadorable

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 13:13

yes, Doc is a veritable fountain of info.

but Doc, what do these do for gravity? just occurred to me looking at the pics, doesn't look like they plan on generating any gravity.

#7 carmatic

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 13:20

yes, Doc is a veritable fountain of info.

but Doc, what do these do for gravity? just occurred to me looking at the pics, doesn't look like they plan on generating any gravity.

maybe they are round so that they can constantly spin to create centrifugal gravity? good for the muscles and bones of people living there for long periods, but not sure what effect it would have on their mental state...

#8 neoadorable

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 13:39

i always think about that...let's say you're on a shuttle going up to dock with a ship headed to Mars, and that ship has one of those torus things that keeps spinning around for gravity...do you get really dizzy as soon as you step on board? i know it sounds like a dumb question, but i don't think we have a lot of experience to go on beyond the vomit comet etc...

#9 OP DocM

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 14:17

Just spinning the hab presents too many issues. A better way is a dedicated structure like NASA's NAUTILUS-X exploration ship would have. That proposai would use the expandable tech in its gravity centrifuge, as well as for its habitats.

They propose testing this at ISS first. Only a very few hours a day of just .13 G is enough to stem the ill effects of microgravity on the crew. Very Discovery-like in its approach, right down to the 10-11 meter diameter of the centrifuge.

Nautilus-class ships would be built in orbit in a modular manner, which would allow the propulsion modules to be swapped out according to the mission; chemical for lunar/near asteroids, plasma drives like VASIMR for Mars.

Once built the logical way to use them would be to station them at a space dock (see earlier post) at EML-1, which would allow low-energy transfer to most anywhere. Just fly the crew direct to the space dock when she's ready.

ISS test
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Near-Earth version (lunar, near Earth asteroids etc)
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Deep space version (Mars etc)
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#10 neoadorable

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 08:11

now the extended duration version is more like it...starting to look like a proper ship. i'd like to see more shielding to put me at ease, too many sci-fi books and movies as a kid always telling me the evil space rocks are out to get us just as we're about to enter Mars orbit...but i guess shielding will have to wait until we have better materials technology and stronger, safer engines. so the Nautilus take care of gravity, sort off....but what about the Bigelows? still don't see anything that might be able to generate G, unless you mean they will attach the Nautilus centrifuge to those.

#11 HawkMan

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 08:33

the problem with centrifuges like that is the force the add to the structure they're attached to in weightlessness to.

for a spaceship you will also need to constantly spin the ship in the other direction. unless you have two of them spinning different directions, but then the ship twists. so then you need 3, 2 smaller ones and one bigger one, space small, big small, and the small ones rotating one way and the big one the other. then you shouldn't twist the ship. Still probably will do funny stuff but should be far more manageable.

for space stations it would be even more different since they should be mostly stationary. and you need to consider the metal fatigue it puts on the rest of the structure to.

#12 OP DocM

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 16:40

Radiation shielding with Bigelow tech is much better than with ISS or spacecraft up to now. They're walls are 16+ inches thick and made of polymers, which are hydrogen rich making them excellent rad shields, and have the option of incorporating water stores in their walls enhancing shielding even more.

Counter-torque can be added by using two counter-rotating tori or torque can be managed by isolating the rotating mass using magnetic bearings, and powering rotation using thrusters on its rim (extra points for ion or plasma) etc. instead of using a motor attached to both the rotating and stationary structures.

#13 neoadorable

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 10:51

and what kind of gravity can that generate?

#14 OP DocM

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 03:46

Centrifugal simulation depends on the centrifuge radius and RPM's, kind of like the carnival ride or a training centrifuge. You don't really need a full 1G - .13G is enough and is easily acheved.

Physiologically there is little difference between real gravty and simulated, so it negates virtually all the bad effects of long term microgravity; slowed healing, muscle wasting, bone loss, stem cell changes, most fluid shifting, etc.

The main physiological downside is a gravity gradient which is more pronounced with a smaller centrifuge radius - "gravity" is stronger at your feet tha your head. It can be somewhat gotten used to, but some find it disorienting at first. So far it appears 10 meters is the minimum diameter to minimize this, so Arthur C. Clarke was close when he designed Discovery.

#15 neoadorable

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 13:06

thanks again for the info. i think they'd likely have stronger ariticial gravity than that for the people coming back from long stays on Mars, asteroids and elsewhere so they could get re-acclimated to Eath g. this is all very exciting stuff, i just wish it'd become reality sooner....this global procrastination is really getting to me the older i become. i feel so sad that folks like Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke aren't around anymore. it's a shame they never had the opportunity to witness their life's work materializing, even as a start.