Author Topic: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)  (Read 2742 times)

Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2693
  • California
  • Liked: 2122
  • Likes Given: 1211
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #20 on: 04/16/2017 07:09 PM »
Indeed. And if they are so hell-bent on doing the outfitting in orbit... try this thought experiment. How about launching just an empty habitation shell as a payload, and then outfit that instead. Does that sound like a lot of work? Still a LOT easier than a wet lab conversion.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3310
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 1912
  • Likes Given: 2154
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #21 on: 04/16/2017 07:13 PM »
Dry storage space itself is already valuable. Maybe things are easier to relocate if there is no need to store them 3 layers deep.


The big problem with wet workshop is that you just get an empty tank and then have to outfit it.
I wonder what happens if the concept gets reversed. Start with a rather simple module including all the MMOD and external connections, strip the internals down, using it as tank during launch and reinstall gear on orbit.

Upper stages are very carefully designed for their purpose.  It would be totally impractical to take a module designed to be a habitat module and bolt on some engines and use it as an upper stage.

An upper stage might look like it's the same shape as an ISS module, but it doesn't mean they're really very similar other than shape.

Offline Chasm

  • Member
  • Posts: 99
  • Liked: 47
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #22 on: 04/17/2017 01:57 PM »
 \_(ツ)_/
It's a reversal for arguments sake.
The goal in both cases is to get additional usable volume, for cheap.

NanoRacks basically says that their concept is not exactly new and that over the decades much work went into it. Few modifications to Centaur itself are required, most of them in areas that are easily modded. That together with ULA they can build the concept with standard parts or things that have been done before in a few weeks for the centaur items and a bit more for the rest. (Paperwork obviously not included.)

Cue a small set of objections: But MMOD, but balloon tank, but thermal regulation, but interior of any kind, but attaching anything internally because balloon tank, but electrical connections, but fluids, but external handholds, but external attachment points, but radiation shielding, but .....

Next step is to mitigate by adding things to the stage and it is not simple any longer.

So what happens if you start from the other end and take wet lab a bit more literal. Starting with an empty module as (additional) upper stage tank. Remove everything from the interior but attachment points and maybe major structural elements. Probably patch in bulkheads/parts of a tank dome to cover the docking adapter(s) and assorted gear around them. It's not like upper stages are perfectly empty either.

Is that a particularly great idea? Hell no. It removes one set of complaints and replaces them with others.



After listening to the podcast again and the concept to launch Ixion together with a Cygnus on top...

A variation of that idea would be to revert to a variation of their first CRS round wet lab concept. Stick a docking adapter on the centaur H2 tank. Only use this contraption as trash truck.
That should cut down exposure to MMOD and other risks nicely. Much less need to do interior work on orbit. Cygnus moves the stack to the ISS, both get captured and berthed. Open the wet and fill it what has accumulated for disposal, replace the access cover. Undock and reentry. Only then really start to work on the Cygnus cargo.
Now that there is less need for disposal services extra points for upgrading the Cygnus pressure section to a full if somewhat empty module like some of the ATV concepts, the propulsion section to a detachable tug and recovering Centaur engine and avionics with SMART. ;)

Sounds roundabout enough for gouvernment work. After all why just play rocket lego if there are also ISS and transport addons aviailible.  ;D

Offline dror

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 471
  • Israel
  • Liked: 97
  • Likes Given: 260
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #23 on: 04/17/2017 07:05 PM »
...
After listening to the podcast again and the concept to launch Ixion together with a Cygnus on top...

A variation of that idea would be to revert to a variation of their first CRS round wet lab concept. Stick a docking adapter on the centaur H2 tank. Only use this contraption as trash truck.
That should cut down exposure to MMOD and other risks nicely. Much less need to do interior work on orbit. Cygnus moves the stack to the ISS, both get captured and berthed. Open the wet and fill it what has accumulated for disposal, replace the access cover. Undock and reentry. Only then really start to work on the Cygnus cargo.
Now that there is less need for disposal services extra points for upgrading the Cygnus pressure section to a full if somewhat empty module like some of the ATV concepts, the propulsion section to a detachable tug and recovering Centaur engine and avionics with SMART. ;)

Sounds roundabout enough for gouvernment work. After all why just play rocket lego if there are also ISS and transport addons aviailible.  ;D

If it is ACES and not Centaur, you don't really need a propultion module at all, do you?

But, then again, what's in it for Orbital ATK?

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5966
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1905
  • Likes Given: 656
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #24 on: 04/18/2017 02:31 AM »
Cue a small set of objections: But MMOD, but balloon tank, but thermal regulation, but interior of any kind, but attaching anything internally because balloon tank, but electrical connections, but fluids, but external handholds, but external attachment points, but radiation shielding, but .....

There are answers to most of those objections... :-)

~Jon

Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2693
  • California
  • Liked: 2122
  • Likes Given: 1211
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #25 on: 04/19/2017 11:36 PM »
Cue a small set of objections: But MMOD, but balloon tank, but thermal regulation, but interior of any kind, but attaching anything internally because balloon tank, but electrical connections, but fluids, but external handholds, but external attachment points, but radiation shielding, but .....

There are answers to most of those objections... :-)

~Jon

There are, but are they credible and practical? NOTE, no one has said that this is impossible. Just impractical.

I finally got around to listening to the pod cast while driving yesterday, some notes from the interview:

1. Mike Johnson clearly likes Centaur. A LOT. He is spent the last 15(?) years working on and off with proposals to adapt Centaur tanks as station components or cargo spacecraft. First as a "dry lab" (modified on ground), then now as a "wet lab" (modified in orbit). While he does admit that his concept could be applied to many other upper stages, I do find the single-minded obsession with Centaur stages somewhat baffling. He seems to have lots of connections with people at ULA, perhaps that is the explanation. But this single-mindedness does bring to mind the saying "if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail".

2. The actual work of outfitting and modifying the Centaur on orbit is hand-waved away, aside from a brief mention of robots doing the work. I really do wish the host would have pressed him more on this.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2017 05:20 AM by Lars-J »

Offline Patchouli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4085
  • Liked: 91
  • Likes Given: 180
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #26 on: 04/20/2017 04:12 AM »
Cue a small set of objections: But MMOD, but balloon tank, but thermal regulation, but interior of any kind, but attaching anything internally because balloon tank, but electrical connections, but fluids, but external handholds, but external attachment points, but radiation shielding, but .....

There are answers to most of those objections... :-)

~Jon

There are, but are they credible and practical. NOTE, no one has said that this is impossible. Just impractical.

I finally got around to listening to the pod cast while driving yesterday, some notes from the interview:

1. Mike Johnson clearly likes Centaur. A LOT. He is spent the last 15(?) years working on and off with proposals to adapt Centaur tanks as station components or cargo spacecraft. First as a "dry lab" (modified on ground), then now as a "wet lab" (modified in orbit). While he does admit that his concept could be applied to many other upper stages, I do find the single-minded obsession with Centaur stages somewhat baffling. He seems to have lots of connections with people at ULA, perhaps that is the explanation. But this single-mindedness does bring to mind the saying "if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail".

2. The actual work of outfitting and modifying the Centaur on orbit is hand-waved away, aside from a brief mention of robots doing the work. I really do wish the host would have pressed him more on this.


I think DCSS would be better suited though the Delta IV doesn't fly as often and generally is not used for LEO missions.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2017 04:16 AM by Patchouli »

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5966
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1905
  • Likes Given: 656
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #27 on: 04/20/2017 07:05 AM »
There are, but are they credible and practical? NOTE, no one has said that this is impossible. Just impractical.

I think the solutions for several of the problems are pretty straightforward. Especially MMOD protection, and how you mount stuff to the inside and outside of a Centaur/ACES style balloon tank. A lot of the other concerns (about kitting out the volume) are ones that inflatables tend to share or are worse at. Admittedly it's an idea I've been noodling for years, so I'm somewhat biased.

I'm being intentionally vague for now, but hopefully can say more down the road.

~Jon

Offline Chasm

  • Member
  • Posts: 99
  • Liked: 47
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #28 on: 04/20/2017 09:07 AM »
Not say, show.  :)

I would really like to see some form of wetlab fly. If it is not a perfect solution? So what.
The concepts have been around for a long time and got reworked again and again. Unlike some other ides which gets thrown around there is certainly no "That doesn't even work in Kerbal Space..." factor.
I'm pretty tired of all those ideas that get developed to hardware and then canceled at the last second because they are not shiny enough, don't make that last of profit or got endorsed by the wrong person at some point in time, three decades ago.



ACES
As I understand there is no getting close to the ISS while there are still cryogenics in the stage. If you have to vent all tanks ACES does not help too much as far as docking or disposal goes. Otherwise it would be time for another round of rocket lego. 8) The upside is the the increased size and that more gear is located on the rear bulkhead, removing obstacles from the top. Construction method stays the same so no changes there.

Other upper stages
As per the linked podcast the H2 upper stages are quite similar, there is not too much difference between them. It's hard to justify launching on Delta IV because of price. Using a foreign launcher is not a real option for an American company either.
I suppose switching stages would be an easy fix if "but balloon tank" was the only complaint, but it isn't.

Tags: