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Orbital Spaceship Fleet Contruction


Spacescifi
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https://www.calumhervieu.com/post/are-inflatable-spacecraft-the-future-of-exploration

Looking at this realistically using both modern and theoretical technology, would it not be more cost effective to just put an orbital ship building station in high orbit, enough that it won't need to be reboosted at all, since it has solar sails that LEO laser sats zap to course correct as needed?

From there, instead of literally hauling a lot of heavy metal around, why not haul up a bunch of inflatable craft, attach them, strap an engine to the back, and call it good?

I dunno, I think Earth built spaceships in orbit can be mass produced easily as inflatables with engines and tanks strapped to them.

You really only want metal heavy craft for reentry anyway. If it is a pure space/moon lander do you even need a metal hull?

 

Now once the lunar industry is a thing you can can construct stuff on the surface, although I am not sure if you can make inflatables using lunar material alone.

 

My point is that inflatables just may be the future of manned space only flight.

Reentry kind of needs metals.

 

 

Edited by Spacescifi
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4 minutes ago, SOXBLOX said:

Radiation protection is usually nice to have.

I know, but there should be a way to make an inflatable that is radiation proof.

 

Perhaps use lead foil? Filled with water? Or a hydrogen rich plastic filled with water inside?

It occurred to me that space built spaceships won't look anything like sleek at all.

 

They will have more in common with locomotive engines with many craft attached being pushed by a single engine.

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9 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

https://www.calumhervieu.com/post/are-inflatable-spacecraft-the-future-of-exploration

Looking at this realistically using both modern and theoretical technology, would it not be more cost effective to just put an orbital ship building station in high orbit, enough that it won't need to be reboosted at all, since it has solar sails that LEO laser sats zap to course correct as needed?

From there, instead of literally hauling a lot of heavy metal around, why not haul up a bunch of inflatable craft, attach them, strap an engine to the back, and call it good?

I dunno, I think Earth built spaceships in orbit can be mass produced easily as inflatables with engines and tanks strapped to them.

You really only want metal heavy craft for reentry anyway. If it is a pure space/moon lander do you even need a metal hull?

 

Now once the lunar industry is a thing you can can construct stuff on the surface, although I am not sure if you can make inflatables using lunar material alone.

 

My point is that inflatables just may be the future of manned space only flight.

Reentry kind of needs metals.

 

 

As I said here:

Mars is where you want to build you fleet, for the aforementioned reasons.

 

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It also occurred to me that rotating arms on long beams would be ideal for an orbital assembly spaceship yard

Let's be real, all a station needs to do is assemble ship parts together which are brought up piecemeal by reusable second stage rockets.

Any actual contruction would be done on Earth below or anywhere with gravity.

 

An assembly station ideally would use rotating arms to slowly yeet items to be caught at the other end of the spaceship yard for assembly.

 

No propellant lost so it's a win win for the spaceships.

Even better a bunch of rotating arms in orbit could progressively play catch and yeet a spacecraft to earth's escape velocity WITHOUT propellant use .

I guess my point is that it costs propellant to put space infrastructure in place, but once in place you can save a lot of propellant by utilizing the infrastructure.

Edited by Spacescifi
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  • 2 weeks later...

Two words. 3D Printing. If we assume that in 30 years (or whenever the hell this is supposed to take place) we have much more sophisticated 3D printing technologies, who's to say we can't have an absolute UNIT of a 3D printer to make massive plastic spaceships? When I say massive, I mean ones that people could fit inside and have great big gardens and cafeterias and... you get the point. I got this idea from Kurzgesgat: In A Nutshell, where they proposed 3D printed lunar mining rovers for a long-term moon base.

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On 1/9/2022 at 8:52 AM, Second Hand Rocket Science said:

Two words. 3D Printing. If we assume that in 30 years (or whenever the hell this is supposed to take place) we have much more sophisticated 3D printing technologies, who's to say we can't have an absolute UNIT of a 3D printer to make massive plastic spaceships? When I say massive, I mean ones that people could fit inside and have great big gardens and cafeterias and... you get the point. I got this idea from Kurzgesgat: In A Nutshell, where they proposed 3D printed lunar mining rovers for a long-term moon base.

Steel, not plastic.  It is relatively easy to find plenty of metals, especially the components of steel.  Finding enough hydrocarbons off Earth might be trickier.  If you are hauling the mass off Earth, you likely will shape it there (unless you are using something like spinlaunch).

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I'm believe long term/big builds should be done around the Moon. Where its vastly easier and cheaper to get things into orbit, and there is a vast amount of raw materials that should be able to allow you to build whatever you'd want. Assuming you have enough infrastructure to build/mine it. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, MKI said:

around the Moon. Where its vastly easier and cheaper to get things into orbit,

The absolute majority of the lunar orbits are unstable, due to the both Earth gravitation and mascons, and require permanent corrections.

Only several "frozen"ones are more or less stable, but this still keeps a long-term lunar orbital station problematic.

 

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i figure an orbital shipyard would best be connected to a massive space colony of sorts. something with  pressurized and unpressurized areas as well as with and without gravity, possibly variable gravity. each to handle the various jobs required. handling larger subassemblies might be better done at 1/3g than 1g, and you can build your station with an industrial ring inside a habitation ring. you certainly wouldn't want a zero g machine shop, its probibly not safe to operate a lathe in zero gravity.  large unpressurized bays (meant more to contain wayard parts than anything else) would be a good place for the final assembly of smaller ships and modules for larger ships. larger ships would probibly be handled in external construction frames, where you are mostly assembling the ship from modular sections that simply bolt together. 

areas meant for welding could be unpressurized or use a noble gas atmosphere. many welding techniques requires shielding gas, an unless your atmospheric recyclers can handle it, its better to keep it out of that system if at all possible. so just make the atmosphere the shielding gas, and wear an oxygen helmet (welders usually need a hood and respirator anyway so this solves two problems). small assemblies and fasteners would be done in shirt sleeve environments, possibly in the hab ring. you generally start with smaller parts the further out from the center, when you get to the industrial levels you can start handling larger more massive components, when you get to the utterly massive parts, you are either in the hub or zero g sections of the station. 

also you will probibly want a separate freight dock connected to the intrastation transport network. if you are refining and forging your own metal stock, its going to be getting a lot of traffic you really dont want interfering with construction operations. you will also be receiving a lot of stuff from earth that cannot be made in space, but are fairly cheap to launch, like semiconductors. you will also need a lot of storage for consumables. i expect tankage and cargo containers to be bolted to every possible surface. 

in star trek its usually just some mooring frame which i think is a terrible way to build a space craft. you end up losing parts which very well may damage the station on subsequent orbits. you at least ones some heavy duty nets to catch large parts, and perhaps some mylar layers to catch smaller parts. though an unpressurized construction hall with solid walls would be the best option. i like the design of tycho station in the expanse, as it has a big hanger for storage and construction, and a separate grav section (i dont think the show got the design completely down as described in the books as the station has thrust and the hab modules are supposed to rotate for thrust gravity). babylon 5 also had a fairly good design having a separate zero g part of the station. i dont think either example had dedicated shipyard facilities. i figure a large platform with a pair of oneil cylenders would work out best for a purely industrial operation. a ring station would be better if you are also doing agriculture as you could have a transparent roof and reflectors with an offset industrial ring. the former would have better capacity for industrial operations, and the latter for an overall multipurpose self sufficient space city. or maybe some hybrid of the two. im thinking it would be a very large station. i also wouldn't be totally opposed to surface facilities on a low gravity world for the big stuff. this would come with launch costs (significantly smaller than earth), but you dont have to worry about wayward components. 

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17 minutes ago, Nuke said:

i figure an orbital shipyard would best be connected to a massive space colony of sorts. something with  pressurized and unpressurized areas as well as with and without gravity, possibly variable gravity. each to handle the various jobs required. handling larger subassemblies might be better done at 1/3g than 1g, and you can build your station with an industrial ring inside a habitation ring. you certainly wouldn't want a zero g machine shop, its probibly not safe to operate a lathe in zero gravity.  large unpressurized bays (meant more to contain wayard parts than anything else) would be a good place for the final assembly of smaller ships and modules for larger ships. larger ships would probibly be handled in external construction frames, where you are mostly assembling the ship from modular sections that simply bolt together. 

areas meant for welding could be unpressurized or use a noble gas atmosphere. many welding techniques requires shielding gas, an unless your atmospheric recyclers can handle it, its better to keep it out of that system if at all possible. so just make the atmosphere the shielding gas, and wear an oxygen helmet (welders usually need a hood and respirator anyway so this solves two problems). small assemblies and fasteners would be done in shirt sleeve environments, possibly in the hab ring. you generally start with smaller parts the further out from the center, when you get to the industrial levels you can start handling larger more massive components, when you get to the utterly massive parts, you are either in the hub or zero g sections of the station. 

also you will probibly want a separate freight dock connected to the intrastation transport network. if you are refining and forging your own metal stock, its going to be getting a lot of traffic you really dont want interfering with construction operations. you will also be receiving a lot of stuff from earth that cannot be made in space, but are fairly cheap to launch, like semiconductors. you will also need a lot of storage for consumables. i expect tankage and cargo containers to be bolted to every possible surface. 

in star trek its usually just some mooring frame which i think is a terrible way to build a space craft. you end up losing parts which very well may damage the station on subsequent orbits. you at least ones some heavy duty nets to catch large parts, and perhaps some mylar layers to catch smaller parts. though an unpressurized construction hall with solid walls would be the best option. i like the design of tycho station in the expanse, as it has a big hanger for storage and construction, and a separate grav section (i dont think the show got the design completely down as described in the books as the station has thrust and the hab modules are supposed to rotate for thrust gravity). babylon 5 also had a fairly good design having a separate zero g part of the station. i dont think either example had dedicated shipyard facilities. i figure a large platform with a pair of oneil cylenders would work out best for a purely industrial operation. a ring station would be better if you are also doing agriculture as you could have a transparent roof and reflectors with an offset industrial ring. the former would have better capacity for industrial operations, and the latter for an overall multipurpose self sufficient space city. or maybe some hybrid of the two. im thinking it would be a very large station. i also wouldn't be totally opposed to surface facilities on a low gravity world for the big stuff. this would come with launch costs (significantly smaller than earth), but you dont have to worry about wayward components. 

 

Good ideas. But the hard part is shipping it to begin with.

You would need to put a lot of mass in high orbit.... much more than the ISS.

 

Because we do not want to have to worry about reboosting a structure as massive as you are considering... so no LEO placement. We must go higher and thus a attain a slower orbit.

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to build something that big in the first place will likely involve using the low gravity body as a construction yard. to bootstrap that you need to start with a colony on said low gravity body,  which will likely need a temporary centrifuge of its own to provide habitation for colonists. im quite fond of the tbm and train type.  bore a circular tunnel underground, pressurize it. lay down tracks, and build habs on train cars. you can angle the tracks to take advantage of local gravity. you can also add cars as needed. the tunnel could be many km in radius and deep enough underground to provide rad shielding.

bootstrapping colonies will be the biggest hurdle to space colonization. 

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