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Space Dock Micro-meteor Protection

Posted by: WannabeSpaceCadet - Mon May 01, 2006 1:35 pm
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Space Dock Micro-meteor Protection 
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Post Space Dock Micro-meteor Protection   Posted on: Mon May 01, 2006 1:35 pm
"Micro-meteor" - Technically they're not meteorites until they hit the ground. :)

It would be pretty hard to stop anything really big, but small stuff can definitely be stopped by multiple layers. Look at Deep Impact's several layers of copper sheet with gaps in between. The gaps allow the debris to vapourize before hitting the next layer.


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Post    Posted on: Mon May 01, 2006 3:10 pm
Well, technically technically a meteor is just a flash of light in the sky. A rock or speck of dust following it's own orbit in space is a meteoroid. Basically a really small asteroid.


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 02, 2006 7:36 am
Well I expect that if a rock or speck of dust hits my space dock at 34,000 mph, there will be a flash of light. And my space dock is "in the sky" so technically the event meets all the criteria for a meteor. :roll:

I did consider using 'meteoroid', but they're not something we need protection against, until they impact. :lol:

I think we have now taken pedanticism to a new level. (about 400 km)


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 02, 2006 10:23 am
A second reflective layer, filled with water half a meter thick that will freeze might provide the protection required. I remember a documentatary concerning protection against icebergs. In it the military experimented with various ways to break an iceberg up. The navy pointed a sufficiently large gun at one, and took several pot shots at it. To nearly no effect. Now clearly there is a limit to the protection we can provide our space dock, but this might be enough for the common small debris.

My question would be, how much debris, meteors, and other stuff are we talking about here? I know we've lost a couple of sats over several years, but what is the real risk, and by what size of object? We might find that we only need cover the outside in some sort of ablative foamy gel.

The very same techniques we use here could be employed on an inflateable habitable living quarters section.

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 02, 2006 2:59 pm
In LEO the largest hazard is manmade space debris. I believe the Shuttle has shown damage after at least some flights. I remember a case of a window dinged by what was reported to be a paint fleck.


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 02, 2006 3:07 pm
Yeah, that was my thoughts also, rather than micro-meteroites it was the space junk that we have to worry about. In which case perhaps we could just provide an umbrella type shield in front of the space dock. It could also be a manner for gathering up the smaller junk if we applied some sort of gel on the front. This sort of thing has been discussed elswhere as an orbital debris collection system. Arranging it in front of the space dock would clear the path and also allow the station personelle to maintain the shield when it took a pounding from something large.

Of course this all is dependant on my assumption that space junk is generally encountered from the direction of orbital travel. Is that (generally) right?

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Post    Posted on: Wed May 03, 2006 2:30 am
Half a metre of water is probably way too much for micro-meteors and micro space junk. It would also mass over 600 tonnes! It would be a lot cheaper to send up a cover made of kevlar/nomex/aluminium layers, 5 cm thick. That would weigh less than 100 tonnes.

Publiusr, we need your heavy lift!


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Post    Posted on: Wed May 03, 2006 8:27 am
What about an - at least partially - deflatable/inflatable spacedock/orbital assembly yard?

If there is nothing to repair or built in the dock/yard that space isn't required and could be deflated. In the deflated state it consists of thicker layers and is smaller which both might be more robust respectively can prevent more impacts.

In the deflated state it also can be avoided to keep space pressurized that isn't required at the moment. What about making the deflatble/inflatable dock/yard selfdepressurizing/selfpressurizing?

And is it required that all of the dock/yard is a closed room with walls?

Next what about a debris/meteorite-warning-system made of clumped satellites according to your proposal, Sean Girling? They could be micro-. nano- or pico-staelliets simply getting radio-beams from the dock/yard and sending beams back to it - the source/target being the most sensible point of the dock/yard.

The satellites could exchange such beams among each other also and interruptions would indicate possible debris/meteorites they would interrupt two beams at least and this would indicate their directions and orbits -which would mean that they are traced at least which isn't possible from the surface at the moment.

To the interruptions and indicated directions and courses the dock/yrad could react - and a collector could be activated (other thread(s).

The cloud of clumped and specialized very small satellites could be some kilometers in front and/or behind.

In teh deflated state the dock/yrad could be examined regularly as well as prior to inflation.

This way weights etc. could be minimized or optimized.

....

What about such ideas?



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 03, 2006 10:20 am
Ekkehard wrote:
Quote:
What about an - at least partially - deflatable/inflatable spacedock/orbital assembly yard?

If there is nothing to repair or built in the dock/yard that space isn't required and could be deflated. In the deflated state it consists of thicker layers and is smaller which both might be more robust respectively can prevent more impacts.

The problems with this are mainly those of mechanical complexity and service life. I would imagine that unsupported fabric would flex and wear faster with repeated packing and unpacking. Then there's the problem of the primary and secondary access hatches.

Quote:
In the deflated state it also can be avoided to keep space pressurized that isn't required at the moment. What about making the deflatble/inflatable dock/yard selfdepressurizing/selfpressurizing?

Keeping an unused space this big depressurized when in use would be a good thing. Among other things because it could accept a rush job (or emergency case) faster. Storing the air for the dock would be an interesting challenge.

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And is it required that all of the dock/yard is a closed room with walls?

Not all of the yard would be pressurized, but some of the individual docks/slips would. Sections or modules could be built in a pressurized slip, in shirtsleeve conditions (no bulky spacesuits to complicate things!) and taken outside for final assembly.

As for yard structure, I would imagine that yards would be a collection of girder constructions enclosing individual slips. The girder construction isn't for strength, but to provide mounting points for tools, grip points for workers and rails for arms/cranes.

Some or perhaps many slips could be enclosed but not pressurized, to provide solar / micrometeoriod protection. The enclosure could be seen as a multilayer tent, hung from the girders. The tent would have the additional bonus of being a large bag to contain loose screws, bolts and other items released by careless workers.

Pressurized slips could externally resemble enormous cocoons with other modules (workshops, airlocks) attached. It would have the same girder structure as other slips, but it would be embedded in a multilayer fabric sheath. The space between the layers would be filled with an expandable filler material like polystyrene or polyimide.

Cheers,
ErikM :twisted:


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Post    Posted on: Wed May 03, 2006 10:34 am
Ah yeah, sort of like a small bee's honey comb structure? Some sealed for pressurised build, others open for assembly of completed sections. I like that idea. It would allow the dock to expand.

The micro sats scanning for dangerous debris wouldn't work I don't think. The volume of space would probably make it very hard to locate identify and determine the risk of any mystery object. It would be better to have several dedicated radar sensors on the dock superstructure watching and cataloguing all around them. Though I'd have to worry about the interference with other sats and scientific instruments if we just started beaming about with our virtual torch beam looking for motes. And what are we to do if we see something? Protection is more appropriate perhaps?

Unless we have active defences? Mmm! Mini-Railgun turrets designed to pulverise.... things?

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Post    Posted on: Wed May 03, 2006 11:41 am
The mini-satellite-question seems to be going to be researched and looked for solutions: "Mini-Satellite to Test Big Concepts Aboard Space Station" ( www.space.com/businesstechnology/060503 ... s_iss.html ) .

I too like your ideas, ErikM - very good detailing



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 03, 2006 2:37 pm
WannabeSpaceCadet wrote:
Half a metre of water is probably way too much for micro-meteors and micro space junk. It would also mass over 600 tonnes! It would be a lot cheaper to send up a cover made of kevlar/nomex/aluminium layers, 5 cm thick. That would weigh less than 100 tonnes.

Publiusr, we need your heavy lift!
I would use aerogel as the absorber, possibly with a thin layer of aluminum on top. Von Braun's original idea for a meteor bumper was a thin outer skin supported with little standoffs some distance from the pressure hull. I am just updating the idea with the aerogel to replace the little standoffs.

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Post    Posted on: Wed May 03, 2006 2:53 pm
Thinking about your solution, you could have multiple (three?) layers held like a closed accordian, which, when the gel was pumped in, would expand to provide a nice protection.

Can we lace the gel with something that can provide greater radiation protection too?

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Post    Posted on: Wed May 03, 2006 7:19 pm
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Unless we have active defences? Mmm! Mini-Railgun turrets designed to pulverise.... things?

I strongly suspect that a projectile-based anti-meteoroid system would really anger the neighbours, and for good reasons.

For one, a gun is never totally accurate. Even a hypervelocity railgun would occasionally miss. Each of those misses would leave the bullet (or bullets) in low orbit. Gee, you just missed and added to the problem! :D

Another problem is the lack of total annihilation, especially of larger objects. Fragmenting an inbound just turns a single projectile into the orbital equivalent of a shotgun blast. Oops! :roll: Frankly, a single is easier to handle than a dozen or more smaller impacts.

IMO the only really suitable active orbital micrometeoroid defense system would be an energy weapon. In other words, a laser. This would basically burn up the inbound. Of course, the 'major powers' (meaning the IMO moronic politicians) would have fits about anyone other than themselves having something able to 'fry their communication satelites' (doubtful at best) or 'shooting at the vulnerable surface' (impossible).

Cheers,
ErikM :twisted:


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Post    Posted on: Thu May 04, 2006 7:56 am
Yeah, I was just foolin'. There would be a cascade of destruction if we start to blow things up.

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