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colapsable space station

Posted by: Andy Hill - Tue Sep 13, 2005 10:32 pm
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colapsable space station 
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Post colapsable space station   Posted on: Tue Sep 13, 2005 10:32 pm
Thinking along the lines of a bigelow inflatable, how about having a space station that is formed by a number of tapering sleeves?

My original thought was to have a station that could be contained in a 12m long 5m diameter cylinder. Once in orbit the cylinder would be pressurised from the center which would force out a number of concentric sleeves from each end. The sleeves would taper slightly so that the outside of each sleeve would tighten against the inside of the sleeve it sat in as it extended to create a rigid pole that reduced in diameter as it extended. Each sleeve could be locked in place with retaining pins and an internal membrane would unfold to give an airtight seal. If the sleeves were 10cm thick it should be possible to have at least 6 concentric sleeves which would give a station over 100m in length (allowing a bit for overlap).

The station could be kitted out by moving equipment through an airlock mounted on the cylinder's center. Orbital thrusters and other external equipment could be fitted to a series of different diameter rings that could be slid into place over the external surface. Connections to external equipment would be made via power and signal rails built into the outer surface.

Thinking a bit more I thought that it might be possible to curve the sleeves slightly so that they formed a ring as they extended (the final shape looking something like a bread croissant). The advantage to this would be that power and signal systems would form a ring so that a break at any one point would not result in a failure.

Assuming a similar length and number of sleeves, a ring of 30m diameter could be made this way. Rings or poles could be joined together via a central column to produce a stack for bigger stations.

This idea has the advantage of fitting large structures in a smaller container like Bigelow's inflables but with a solid outer shell like a more conventional station.

Thought I'd try starting the above discussion as its been a bit quiet round here recently, I got the idea watching my eight year old playing with his extending star wars light sabre. Whats everyone think?

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 15, 2005 3:04 am
Gotta mull this one over for a while.....

Sounds reasonable, though.

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