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Theoretical Space Station Design

Theoretical Space Station Design

(OP)
Hello,

I am hoping to get some feedback from the engineering community on some design ideas. I am putting together some theoretical designs for a futuristic space station. The design isn't for engineering purposes (obviously), but it is to showcase the station in a high quality render. I am going to be using Maya to create and texturize the models and Unreal Engine 4 to put the render together. While the design will be science fiction in nature, I still want it to be based on some elements of reality. Typically if your designs are based on real world reference they turn out better.

Some thought provoking questions I have are:

What energy source does the station run on (can be theoretical)?

What back-up energy sources can be used if the main source fails?

How does the station produce a renewable source of oxygen, gravity and simulate an earth like atmosphere?

How would the station handle debris in Space? This would be problemtic (and I imagine that it is) because anything of proportional size could easily destroy structure.

I am just trying to get some good ideas that will impact my design. Thanks for any input.


RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

How big is your space station? Some variation on nuclear power may be appropriate, if not Fusion or conventional Fission reactor then https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoe.... Of course solar panels may also be part of the solution. Or energy generated on a planet and beamed up to the space station - that one has all kinds of potential for going wrong and accidentally shooting down the station.

Batteries, chemical energy + fuel cells...

Magnets, vacuum, electrostatic booties....

Active armor with lasers and appropriate sensors, big balls of kevlar fiber padding or similar in the same orbit soaking up debris. conventional shielding

Don't forget your giant gyroscopes or other ways of controlling orientation.

Do some googling, this arguably isn't really the place for these questions and site management may delete this thread.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

energy source ... if not solar cells, then maybe nuclear (fission or fusion)

back-up ... batteries for very short term (hours), more solar cells, possibly fuel cells, for longer term

environment ... water is the key ... electrolysis to produce fuel (H2) and O2 ,
having nothing in space creates problems ...
food ... hydroponics ?
water ? ... resource mining (ice) from the moon ?
building stuff ... resource mining from the moon ? "stuff" from earth ?, recycling supply ships ??
gravity ... rotating, like in 2001 ?

debris ... yes a problem, close on "infinite" ballistic energy ... possibly an application of some currently earth based ballistic missile defense systems ? (ie mounted on your space station ?) maybe a garbage clean-up ??

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

Go to the greats of "hard" sci-fi: Clarke (obviously), Kim Stanley Robinson, Charles Scheffield. Read the books - they agonize about HOW their settings work, rather than just set the stage for the actors to play. A very pleasant way to conduct research!

Previous replies touch on key constraints that I'll expand upon: Where is this station, where did it come from, what is its role, who is on board, and what kind of "story" is set on it. Answer each question and then follow those facts to find the resources that will or will not be found there. You aren't going to need a fusion reactor if the station uses an electromagnetic induction capture in Jupiter's magnetic fields. If it spins for gravity (aka vonBraun wheel) then it's not a skinny cylinder!

STF

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

"I am putting together some theoretical designs for a futuristic space station."

If this is basically an art project that you want to represent what might be possible with future space technology, then my vote is for a space station connected to a space tether/elevator. The space elevator would resolve most of the issues noted. Re-supply of food, water, oxygen, spare parts, etc could be performed on-demand using the space elevator. Space station personnel could travel back to Earth's surface on a regular basis to recover from the effects of no/low gravity. A space station located around 22k miles up would be clear of the large amount of man-made debris in low earth orbit, but would still need some form of impact protection from deep space objects traveling at high velocity. Of course there is also the issue of protecting the tether itself from high velocity debris impacts along most of its 60k+ mile length. Since there is no real limit to the number of payloads used to construct the station, the size of the finished station can be substantially larger than current designs like the ISS.

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

hadn't thought of the space elevator ... good one !

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

I thought you might run the tether through the axis of the station, and have it spin.

better would be to have the station close to the tether, so the two weren't coupled.

and if the space elevator counter-weight was "up-orbit" (the space version of upstream ?) then it'd act as a shield for the station ...

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

hence "better would be ..."

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

(OP)
I like the tether idea, but man that would be one long tether! I think a rotating Taurus shaped station would be appropriate, with a shuttle building and docking station in the center. Ideally, any space stations of the future would provide a way to build and maintain space craft. Supplies could be sent in the tether. This way you could almost eliminate the need to do any launches from earth's surface. Saving money, time (maybe) and hopefully expand our horizon as far as how much distance we can reasonably travel.

I am thinking nuclear power is the way to go, because of the life span of a nuclear reactor is arguably the best reason to use it. At least it should be the main source of power. Certainly solar energy can be utilized to create energy reserves. Batteries can work too.

Generally speaking, how exactly would you determine the amount of force a piece of load bearing structure would have to support in a zero gravity enviornment? Wouldn't this be relative to the amount of mass of the closest body nearby? If that was the case, then would there be any load whatsoever to support structurally?

Maybe the only force to support structurally would be the centrifugal force produced by the stations rotation. There is also pressurization to consider. The station as whole will be broken down into compartments, to better support oxygen pressurization and control. I am not sure how this would affect design.

Anyway, like I said, this is just to showcase a futuristic design. However, all of these considerations will ultimately influence how it is put together.

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

the problem with nuke power is getting it to orbit. So far we've been very cautious of this ... of a mishap spreading radiation all over the place ...

The Space Elevator is an understood concept, and understood to be fricking difficult (and expensive) to do (on a par with a Fusion power station).

A zero g environment doesn't mean zero load. We can be weightless but if we push against something then there's a force. and as you say atmospheric environment.

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

what about stuff made in orbit ?

other loads ...
thermal effects

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

"lunacy" or "just very difficult" ?

Not so long ago a plane the size of an A380 would have been considered "lunacy".

Conceptually you could mine material on the moon, maybe produce finished structural elements, which you'd then launch (or maybe use a lunar space elevator, which is much easier than a terrestrial one) to your station. You could have testing machines (on the moon or in orbit) to prove the components.

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

"could" is very different than "should." There were probably hundreds if not thousands of technicians that worked on just the fabrication of the Space Station. That's a lot of astronauts and training, lift vehicles, and overhead, like food, water, air, sleeping accommodations. Going to the Moon, mining raw materials, smelting them, machining them, etc., is definitely lunacy. Not to mention the fact that it's highly unlikely that the CNC mill at Boeing Huntington Beach could even fit on a rocket, much less survive the launch shock. There were at least a couple of small buildings at HB that were fully dedicated to the one Space Station module assembled there. We're talking hundreds of thousands of pounds of equipment that all need to lifted to build something that weighs less than the weight of all the hardware required to build it.

When I put on my Asimov glasses, yes, I could see that happening, but the reality is that the OP is basically talking about creating a cartoon, albeit, highly detailed and rendered, but not actual flight hardware. We can just barely manage to sustain a handful of astronauts in permanent orbit as it is

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

refer to the word "futuristic" in the OP ...

Before you consider using on-orbit manufacturing you have to develop the system. ie ...
1) a permanent (or very long term) lunar habitat,
2) either precursor development of in situ manufacturing, or develop after initial moon base.

we've also talked about a space elevator ... certainly several decades in the future.

i've talked about in situ resource creation ... getting O2 and H2 from ice on the moon.

and to think a huge issue is space junk ! as well as meteorites.

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

Meh, it's easy you just need to launch a giant 3D printer with a few spindles of different material.

Being in space oxidization of the metals will be a non issue (assuming fairly high orbit) so you'll be able do 'fdm' using metallic material.

Problem solved.

smile

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

Or just one long spool, on the ground, and feeding upwards?

RE: Theoretical Space Station Design

The inflatable modules being developed by Bigelow Aerospace are interesting. The technology is already fairly well developed and seems like it can be scaled up to large sizes.

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