Jump to content

SLS-launched LEO space station Concept


fredinno
 Share

Recommended Posts

The ISS is a space station complex that has conducted significant research. However, with the expiration date set to 2024 (possibly, and preferably to 2028), NASA will be left without a space-based research lab to work from. However, as NASA's budget is limited, how would such a LEO space station look like? (Cost estimates are based off of released figures on making those modules)

 

V1: Basic, 3-man Version:

Primary module: EUS H2 tank-based Skylab-2 Orbital Workshop. A 32-Ton "Dry Workshop" space station module, it contains its own life support and power systems (including solar panels and radiators. It uses its robotic arm, placed on its aft, to dock the other space station modules to it. It is primarily used as a lab and a storage area. Cost: $2 Billion.

 

Permanent BEAM-Derived Inflatable Airlock: A 2 T module, this module can also be adapted for use in Bigelow's own space station.  It is large enough to support 3 astronauts inside, and is based off of the ISS' Quest Airlock for its functionality, and BEAM for its structure.  US airlock Cost: 17.8 Million (cost of what it took to make the 1st BEAM), possibly more.

 

Modified PMA: Allows crew to dock to this space station, and is designed to connect to commercial crew vehicles. It is 1.6 T in mass, and there are two of these aboard the station.

 

The other space station modules are built from leftover ISS hardware:

Node 4: A 12 Tons Module, Node 4 creates extra docking ports, along with a crew habitat for this space station. It also connects this station to other modules (if using the extended version) and commercial cargo and crew spacecraft (two crew spacecraft is left docked, one (at the Starboard port) as a backup, and the other (Forward) as the primary. It's aft port is used to connect the space station on Skylab II. Its nadir docking port is used as a cargo berthing port (a second is not needed, due to its lower cargo requirements. The Port docking port is used for the BEAM-Derived Airlock. Node 4 is built from the Node 1 STA.

 

PMM-2: A 10 tons module, the Pernament Multipurpose Module-2  is located on the space station's Zenith port, and is a life sciences lab. It is built from MPLM-2, used for Suttle logistics missions to the ISS.

 

Interim Control Module (modified to be a 6T permanent module): This module is not designed to be refuelled (except maybe by EVA?), so it is only intended for emergency burns. It is located on the space stations' forward port. 

 

The basic version also adds 9T of Solar panel and radiator assembly onto Skylab II's aft.

 

The basic version uses one SLS Block IB launch to launch itself (along with a partially-fuelled Orion) into LEO.

 

Extended Version: The extended version would add another Node (Node V), attached to the station by its aft side, and built completely new (which is attached to the forward side of the node).

 

The airlock is moved to the port side of Node V), another berthing port (at Node V's nadir) is also added.

 

Port port of Node V have PMM 3, built from a leftover Shuttle Multi-purpose logistics module and used as a lab (though PMM-3 is also used for some storage). The Starboard port is attached with either a BA-330 (launched separately on a Falcon Heavy) or a refurbrished, completed Centrifuge Accomodations Module, a life sciences lab with a centrifuge. CAM and PMM-3 are both 10 tons in mass. BA-330, is 20 T in mass.

 

The Zenith port of Node V is used for a backup docking port.

 

The extended version also adds another 9T of Solar Panel and radiator assembly, from the basic version, onto Skylab II's aft, nearly identical the the first attached.

 

The extensions are launched by a single SLS Block I (without a upper stage- it also cannot be launched on a Falcon Heavy, as it lacks a large enough fairing to launch the modules at once) using a specially designed tug to carry the modules to the space station.

 

 

 

How good of a concept is this? Is there any chance it will happen? The basic, single launch space station is the baseline, by the way.

Edited by fredinno
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only thing I see here that would fit a SLS is the "EUS H2 tank-based Skylab-2 Orbital Workshop", and that only by diameter, you would be wasting half of even Block I's payload launching it. The rest of the stuff you propose could launch perfectly fine on an EELV-class launcher, with a ~5m fairing.

Also, a BEAM-like module wouldn't really work as an airlock, an inflatable module has to be kept pressurized at all times to maintain it's shape.

Now if you built this around the moon, yeah, you just created a lot of missions for SLS, especially including the logistics flights. That seems to be NASA's intention behind the LOS proposals. Otherwise... you just added one mission to SLS's manifest, by getting the US into another station project with a multi-billion annual budget.

 

Rune. And who pays for it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NASA doesn't really want another LEO station after the ISS. The plan is for a Deep Space Habitat, which can be used as a staging post for BEO missions or as hab for long duration exploration.

And there is no leftover ISS hardware. You might be able to salvage Node 4, but the CAM is in disrepair, rotting under a tarp in Japanese parking lot. As for the ICM the only reason to use it would be because you have it. It would serve no real purpose.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, Rune said:

The only thing I see here that would fit a SLS is the "EUS H2 tank-based Skylab-2 Orbital Workshop", and that only by diameter, you would be wasting half of even Block I's payload launching it. The rest of the stuff you propose could launch perfectly fine on an EELV-class launcher, with a ~5m fairing.

Also, a BEAM-like module wouldn't really work as an airlock, an inflatable module has to be kept pressurized at all times to maintain it's shape.

Now if you built this around the moon, yeah, you just created a lot of missions for SLS, especially including the logistics flights. That seems to be NASA's intention behind the LOS proposals. Otherwise... you just added one mission to SLS's manifest, by getting the US into another station project with a multi-billion annual budget.

 

Rune. And who pays for it?

Block I (w/ IUS upper stage) has 70 T to LEO in capacity- Block IB has 100 T in capacity, so it is able to launch the entire station, just by payload capacity (to LEO, of course). The Skylab II can only really launch by itself to LLO, as Block IB capacity to TLI is 37.8 T. I'm not sure about the fairing, as SLS payload fairing lengths are still nominal, but proposed BA-2100 launches use a 10 meter fairing many times longer than the H2 tank of an SLS EUS. And the baseline used for this by NASA is a Block IB, using a normal EUS. I am aware I could have split this into multiple launches, but I wanted to launch it all in one piece to make the most use of Block 1 (w/o upper stage's) capacity.

 

This proposal is designed for LEO, but is adaptable to Lunar Operations (Skylab II was originally proposed for a Lunar Space Station, and Node 4 has been proposed for the same use, along with for ISS expansions.) So, yes, it could be built for a Lunar Operations, just with 2 launches (and maybe the Centrifuge Lab module removed for launch on a EELV or Falcon Heavy, as both would need a space tug to rendezvous with the station)

 

And this is probably more likely to be built around the Moon than Earth, due to more SLS launches and a relatively cheap station), TBH.

 

This was also a bit of a mind game to see the cheapest 3-man space station in LEO NASA could build, for the lowest cost (with still a lot of science capability).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

NASA doesn't really want another LEO station after the ISS. The plan is for a Deep Space Habitat, which can be used as a staging post for BEO missions or as hab for long duration exploration.

And there is no leftover ISS hardware. You might be able to salvage Node 4, but the CAM is in disrepair, rotting under a tarp in Japanese parking lot. As for the ICM the only reason to use it would be because you have it. It would serve no real purpose.

I am aware of the Lunar Space station proposals. The great part about this is that it can be built around the Moon, to, just with 2 launches, instead of one.

 

There is leftover ISS hardware. The CAM was admittedly placed there in the basic version, because I was more biased to having a centrifuge lab (I had a backup plan to replace it with PMM-2, made from the 1 of the 2 leftover Shuttle ISS resupply vessels (I'm pretty sure they are in much better condition than CAM). ICM is also currently incomplete in a warehouse in DC, and can be completed in 2-3 years if the need arises. I added it in case reboots are needed, and there is nothing else available (like when the crew returns for a turnover, and there is no cargo vessels docked.) Admittedly, that's not too many times, so I made it so that it would not be able to be refueld (as this is how the vessel was originally designed, allowing for less modifications). ICM would also be able to deorbit the station- I'm not sure if Dragon and Cygnus are even capable of deorbit (even though Progress is).

 

Also, having a control module was necessary for ISS. That's why the ICM was built in the first place.

 

I wonder how difficult it would be to rip out the racks of MPLM-2 and make it a lab. MPLM-1 took 40 Million to turn into PMM-1.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking from ignorance -

  • why is the ISS 'expiring'?
  • Are there elements that have exceeded their practical life span?
  • or is it just a case of not wanting to continue the funding?
  • Why do they leave it so low that it has to be re-boosted so often?
  • Is a new shiny ISS II going to be cheaper to run? at the moment it's a huge chunk of NASA budget (right?)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, DBowman said:

Speaking from ignorance -

  • why is the ISS 'expiring'?
  • Are there elements that have exceeded their practical life span?
  • or is it just a case of not wanting to continue the funding?
  • Why do they leave it so low that it has to be re-boosted so often?
  • Is a new shiny ISS II going to be cheaper to run? at the moment it's a huge chunk of NASA budget (right?)

-It has a legal lifetime as well as a physical one. 

-All elements have a lifespan, and some will reach the end in the mid to late 20s.

-That is somewhat happening. They want to end funding because it's nearing its end.

-It needs to be that low. Any higher and it'll take more energy to get to. How much more depends on the altitude.

-Idk if it'll be cheaper. It might be, if we have cheaper components abd logistics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

-It has a legal lifetime as well as a physical one. 

-All elements have a lifespan, and some will reach the end in the mid to late 20s.

-That is somewhat happening. They want to end funding because it's nearing its end.

-It needs to be that low. Any higher and it'll take more energy to get to. How much more depends on the altitude.

-Idk if it'll be cheaper. It might be, if we have cheaper components abd logistics.

If it's much higher, the ISS would be in the Van Allen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

33 minutes ago, fredinno said:

If it's much higher, the ISS would be in the Van Allen.

Those start at about 1000km. The ISS could be mostly safe at 800, abd there'd be less drag. Idk how much less, though. But there'd be more time for rendezvous and it would take more energy to get to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, DBowman said:

Speaking from ignorance -

  • why is the ISS 'expiring'?
  • Are there elements that have exceeded their practical life span?
  • or is it just a case of not wanting to continue the funding?
  • Why do they leave it so low that it has to be re-boosted so often?
  • Is a new shiny ISS II going to be cheaper to run? at the moment it's a huge chunk of NASA budget (right?)
  • Already discusses plenty of times, but all complex systems have a shelf life. For the same reason it's not practical to keep on running your car for 30 years, especially if it runs in an extreme environment. Parts get harder and more expensive to source and the whole thing grows obsolete. At one point, maintenance gets more expensive that buying a new one.
  • Not yet, but by by 2024, some core components will be 30 years old, the solar panels will be producing much less power.
  • ISS costs NASA $2 billion per year. After a while, you reach diminishing returns on the science that you are getting back out of those $2 billion.
  • It's not designed to go any higher. The radiation shielding is not adequate for long duration stays at higher orbits. High orbit is also a riskier environment in terms of MMOD.
  • Yes, a new station will almost certainly be cheaper to run. It will most likely be simpler and smaller and launched when it's needed. NASA could even rent smaller commercial stations when they need one.
Edited by Nibb31
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Nibb31 said:
  • Already discusses plenty of times, but all complex systems have a shelf life. For the same reason it's not practical to keep on running your car for 30 years, especially if it runs in an extreme environment. Parts get harder and more expensive to source and the whole thing grows obsolete. At one point, maintenance gets more expensive that buying a new one.
  • Not yet, but by by 2024, some core components will be 30 years old, the solar panels will be producing much less power.
  • ISS costs NASA $2 billion per year. After a while, you reach diminishing returns on the science that you are getting back out of those $2 billion.
  • It's not designed to go any higher. The radiation shielding is not adequate for long duration stays at higher orbits. High orbit is also a riskier environment in terms of MMOD.
  • Yes, a new station will almost certainly be cheaper to run. It will most likely be simpler and smaller and launched when it's needed. NASA could even rent smaller commercial stations when they need one.

...Assuming Orbital Tourism takes off within the next 10 years....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems a shame to lug all that stuff up only to discard it, it's not like there is not plenty to do in improving and shaking down long term life support techniques and technology.

It also seems unlikely that it will be cheaper in the near to mid term to build and operate a new station than to operate a 'semi obsolete' one - but I can see how over the long term it could be cheaper. It seems like it would help if these things could be designed to plug in/out new/old modules - so you could reduce the running costs by employing more modern tech with piecemeal replacement.

I know that kind of thing is not simple, and the ISS lifetime probably seemed like a long time at the beginning of the program...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm......

SLS is for beyond LEO and is for deep space missions; so NASA may not establish a space station in LEO, but in the L1 or L5 points or in a orbit near the Moon. The problem is that we don't know when NASA establish this space station. So they could establish it anywhere and is probably in the orbit around Mars or a surface base on another planet or the Moon. So there is endless possibilities 

Edited by ouion
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, ouion said:

Hmm......

SLS is for beyond LEO and is for deep space missions; so NASA may not establish a space station in LEO, but in the L1 or L5 points or in a orbit near the Moon. The problem is that we don't know when NASA establish this space station. So they could establish it anywhere and is probably in the orbit around Mars or a surface base on another planet or the Moon. So there is endless possibilities 

Currently, it's specified as Cis-lunar.

 

Aka: around the Moon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...