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Recycling Cans: Future uses of ISS modules

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The ISS mission has to end some day. What would you do with the modules?

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2 minutes ago, Nightside said:

The ISS mission has to end some day. What would you do with the modules?

 

You are not gonna wanna hear this but I have one word for you. Actually two.

Skylab it.

Nothing of importance will be on it by the end of it's mission anyway.

 

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Only way to keep ISS old parts would be to replace most of the components inside that are nearing end of life (not likely feasible while attached to other modules) - replace all seals (which would need to depressurise the whole module) and make strong repairs of all the micrometeroid impacts the modules would have accumulated.

current EVA suits would not be suitable for this kind of work.

You'd basically need to either build an orbital drydock (or return it to earth) so astronauts can work on the outside within an atmosphere for those repairs...

if you can launch an orbital drydock big enough for that, you won't need ISS anyway :)

only recent modules would be any worth keeping (like a few russian modules, and the future russian MLM) - but russians plan to keep those anyway :)

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Assuming Starship os online by 2028+, I would return all of the modules (or at least the ones that Russia isn't keeping) to Earth and reassemble the station as a museum, maybe somewhere with UN significance. Most of the modules are American, so if not there, if splitting the modules up can be avoided, KSC. This also allows ground scientists to inspect the modules and run tests to gather performance data.

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Posted (edited)

It's probably contagious due to numerous colonies of microbes and fungi, like Mir was at last, and consists of worn out things.

Spoiler

ISS pressurized volume is ~930 m3, normal atmosphere, 1 atm.
= 930 * 1.225 * 0.21 = 240 kg of oxygen.

Stoichiometric amount of hydrogen = 240/8 = 30 kg.
Amount of water to electrolize ~270 kg.

Amount of water onboard is unknown, but a Progress brings 420 kg of water per flight, so probably about a tonne at once.

So, if vent out the usual nitroxy air, they can fill the station with ~100 kg of gaseous hydrogen and stoichiometric amount of oxygen.
Calorific value of hydrogen depends on a reference, lol, from 120 to 210 MJ/kg. 140 looks the best.
So 100 kg H2 = 100 * 140*106 / 4.2*106 ~= 3 t TNT.

So, vent out most part of the ISS air, switch the life support system into self-destruction mode, electrolize all water, and fill the station with oxygen-hydrogen mixture.
Then deorbit and watch a kaboom! turning the pressurized modules into metal scrap to safely burn in the atmosphere.

P.S.
The same with returning interplanetary ships. That's why I refer to my life support modules as "LifeSupport & SelfDestruction Module".
It's a pity that KSP explosions don't depend on the explosives onboard.

Edited by kerbiloid

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Ok, so the prevailing opinion is that the inhabitable modules are not worth reusing, but what about some of the hardware such as the solar trusses and docking port adapters?

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Posted (edited)

The former should be already faded and scratched, the latter have received tens of heavy ships and are not as strong as they were originally.
And definitely they are designed to be connected to that exact communication ports.

So, probably the best solution is just to stop adding new modules and let the station get depleted at once.

In this sense, it's better to keep Nauka on ground and maybe use it in a small Salyut+ station than to add it to ISS right before its end and let it die young.

Edited by kerbiloid

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I would return them to Earth using Starship or whatever spaceship, so they can be used in museums. Reusing them probably wouldn't be much better than just builsing new habitat modules, and burning it all up during re-entry seems like a waste of an historical artifact.

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2 hours ago, NSEP said:

I would return them to Earth using Starship or whatever spaceship, so they can be used in museums. Reusing them probably wouldn't be much better than just builsing new habitat modules, and burning it all up during re-entry seems like a waste of an historical artifact.

Maybe Elon will collect them as scrap/ downmass/ballast on starship missions that would otherwise return empty.

Then he could sell them to collectors or donate to museums for a big tax write off.

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Posted (edited)

What do they save from the sea ships before cutting them?

They should add these parts to ISS and then return for a museum.

Edited by kerbiloid

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It's too big to be brought safely back to earth in one piece, it's too expensive to bring back all of it regardless of how many pieces it's cut into, and its utility as a museum piece would be limited anyway (even if you had the exhibition space, it's not like you could do tours in it). If somebody want a full-size ISS on display, building a sufficiently accurate replica would be cheaper by several orders of magnitude. 

I'd focus on bringing only parts of it back. The cupola is probably the most iconic part of ISS, that thing could be pried off and taken down using a suitable craft. Maybe a solar panel could be folded up and brought back as an exhibition piece too, and all sorts of little interior bits could also be brought down in regular cargo missions. The guitar used by Chris Hadfield in the Space Oddity music video, for instance.

The rest of the station would be deorbited piecemeal if I understand the procedure correctly. Yes, most of it would be lost forever, but its life would be well documented, and NASA tends to be good with making replicates of all sorts of flight-ready hardware. Every strap of velcro up there should have a twin somewhere on the ground. If the original is too inconvenient to conserve, at least the twin is stored for posterity.

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, Codraroll said:

The cupola is probably the most iconic part of ISS, that thing could be pried off and taken down using a suitable craft.

The suitable craft has been dismissed.

P.S.
They can deorbit it to splash next to a beach, so it would be an underwater museum for divers.

Edited by kerbiloid

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On 7/16/2019 at 8:14 AM, kerbiloid said:

underwater museum for divers

Then visitors could experience it in an approximation if zero g! 

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Posted (edited)

I think we already have full copy of the modules, so getting the real stuff down wouldn't mean much, apart from some leftover pride that'll only be left as guilt as time progresses (esp. if we won't do them again).

 

How to make them useful ? Transfer those still functional to newer space stations.

Edited by YNM

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On 7/16/2019 at 5:14 PM, kerbiloid said:

The suitable craft has been dismissed.

P.S.
They can deorbit it to splash next to a beach, so it would be an underwater museum for divers.

That would be an interesting idea. It would be excellent for extreme tourists that like to go to extreme locations to see and experience extreme stuff.

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