Author Topic: What if we turned A space station to a Interplanetary Spacecraft?  (Read 2259 times)

Offline Red_dragon

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Could we take the ISS, Gateway, Axiom station, etc, And attach fuel, engines, and Use it to house crew on the trip to mars or to one of jupiter/saturns moons. Which station would be best to use, and what would need to be added to the stations for it to be used this way?

Offline Red_dragon

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Well, starting off, we would of course need to add engines and fuel tanks to the station in question for it to get there. Also, the stations really on solar panels to power the station, which would be an issue because the craft would be traveling further away from the sun than its current position. The comms would need to be buffed, The structure would need to be reconfigured to have a better positioned center of mass for thrust, There would have to be radiation shielding, and there are definitely more things I am forgetting. Lunar gateway would likely be the best, because of its position, smaller mass, and We could make rocket fuel (if liquid fuel is used) On the lunar surface to fuel it. However, the iss is more developed and is in low earth orbit, so it is easier to get to. The iss is controlled by a ton of countries, so it is likely the only way it could be done with the iss is if a private company found a way to purchase it. Also, the iss is high mass. Also, what propulsion should be used. If gateway is used, I am for liquid fuel because it can be produced on the lunar surface, but A LEO station could use ion engines or nuclear engines easier(forgive me if I am wrong about the nuclear engines not being fueled by liquid hydogyn or oxygen, nuclear engines are not my strong suit).

Offline DanClemmensen

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Could we take the ISS, Gateway, Axiom station, etc, And attach fuel, engines, and Use it to house crew on the trip to mars or to one of jupiter/saturns moons. Which station would be best to use, and what would need to be added to the stations for it to be used this way?
One of the "space stations" NASA is investigating is a variant of SpaceX' Starship. It's already intended to be an interplanetary spacecraft. It appears to be far more capable than any of the other near-term proposed "space stations". (NASA in it's infinite wisdom refers to These near-term "space stations" as CLDs, or "Commercial LEO Destinations".) 

Offline rfdesigner

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Could we take the ISS, Gateway, Axiom station, etc, And attach fuel, engines, and Use it to house crew on the trip to mars or to one of jupiter/saturns moons. Which station would be best to use, and what would need to be added to the stations for it to be used this way?

One suggestion for an interstellar craft is an "O'Niel cylinder", a complete eco system floating in space, then it doesn't matter so much how long it takes to reach it's destination, and when it does there's somewhere for everyone to live on day 1 above the probably minimally inhabitable planet.  What that gives you is sustaining power.  Everything gets recycled, physical, chemical and biological, the only input is high quality energy like regulated electricity, the only output is low quality infrared energy, everything else is recycled.

The other end of the spectrum for spacecraft is a Dragon Capsule.  It's sustaining power is minimal, can carry stores for a few days, energy enough to make the trip to LEO.. little else.

For us, both are impactable for interplanetary missions, Everything else falls in between.

The ISS / Axium etc are not built for extended unsupported missions, they expect to get regular deliveries of kit, food etc.  They have more sustaining power than the Dragon or the Shuttle had, but not enough.  They would have to be adapted.  The ISS is getting old, Axium is a better starting point.

For interplanetary missions, you're looking to shed weight, see the rocket equation for why.  The most massive thing to shed is fuel (unless you don't plan on coming back), to do that you need ISRU.. which is what Starship is aiming towards.  The next heavy item is water.  Thankfully with energy, water can be recycled, the ISS does this.  Then you have oxygen, again we know how to recycle that and the ISS does this too.  We don't need to take the ISS with us to benefit from this technology.  Beyond that the question of food arises.  For a first Mars trip, I think we'd just take food with us, though ANYTHING we could grow on the trip would be a huge morale boost for the Astronauts.  For a Jupiter trip, you'd want to be able to grow over 80% of your food (i.e. 4 years worth out of a 5 year mission, giving enough time to grow a years worth of food in a year).  IMHO the mass of the food isn't the biggest problem, it's the quality of it, the effects on Astronauts from not having access to fresh food for years on end (read up on Scurvy), storage costs (in terms of energy and mass)..  yes they could survive, but what shape would they be in, would they still be capable of completing their mission, would they need to take all that mass with them?

Then we come to maintenance.  Even on the Mars missions I'd want all tools and as many parts as possible be able to be 3D printed on board, and to have a materials recycler so old parts and tools can be turned back into raw material for the 3D printer.  That improves resilience and reduces overall mass. 

We also have the issue of gravity, we want our astronauts to be fit and healthy after their trip to mars, so we probably want some kind of spin in our craft, or we want to get to Mars very quickly.

Another aspect is noise.  The ISS is NOISY!!!!!!..  not as bad as it used to be, but you're living in a aluminium drum with a million motors, fans and pumps.. that lot makes a racket!.   I wouldn't want to inflict that on my astronauts when there's no opportunity to get away from it for 2+ years, lets have a quieter environment, that's much easier with a completely fresh design.  There are a million other details that all need to be addressed.

Whatever goes to mars will benefit from all the work done with space stations in LEO.  We'll take the lessons with us, but not the ISS, we now know how to do things better.  Axiom might be usable as a module within a larger craft, I've not looked closely at Gateway.

To give you kudos, you refrained from using "easy", "only" and "just"..   well done  ;)  I'm not being sarcastic, I really mean it, I'm an engineer who's used to having managers declare the latest impossible task as easy, just do X, it's only....     

Offline Jim

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Could we take the ISS,

No, it is not designed for beyond low earth orbit.

Offline Red_dragon

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Could we take the ISS,

No, it is not designed for beyond low earth orbit.
The idea of this thread is to take a space station and modify it for beyond LEO missions

Offline DanClemmensen

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Could we take the ISS,

No, it is not designed for beyond low earth orbit.
The idea of this thread is to take a space station and modify it for beyond LEO missions
Jim is telling you that even if the idea might work for some station, it will definitely not work for ISS. It cannot be modified for a BLEO mission for  a whole lot of reasons. The abstract idea may or may not be feasible for some station. It is not feasible for ISS.

Offline Red_dragon

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Could we take the ISS,

No, it is not designed for beyond low earth orbit.
The idea of this thread is to take a space station and modify it for beyond LEO missions
Jim is telling you that even if the idea might work for some station, it will definitely not work for ISS. It cannot be modified for a BLEO mission for  a whole lot of reasons. The abstract idea may or may not be feasible for some station. It is not feasible for ISS.
Why not?

Offline Jim

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Could we take the ISS,

No, it is not designed for beyond low earth orbit.
The idea of this thread is to take a space station and modify it for beyond LEO missions

You can't a LEO station and use it for beyond LEO.  It has to be purpose built for beyond LEO
LEO stations are not designed for the thermal environment for deep space.
The power production is designed for LEO
It has a basic control system.  It does not have the GNC for deep space, it has no star trackers, it uses GPS.
Its comm system uses TDRS and not ground stations.

Gateway is designed from the beginning for lunar orbit.
« Last Edit: 12/19/2023 07:59 pm by Jim »

Offline sdsds

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Quote from: wiki
According to Plutarch, the Athenians preserved the ship that Theseus used to escape, by replacing the parts one by one as they decayed. In its original formulation, the "Ship of Theseus" paradox concerns a debate over whether or not a ship that had all of its components replaced one by one would remain the same ship.
— 𝐬𝐝𝐒𝐝𝐬 —

Offline Red_dragon

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Quote from: wiki
According to Plutarch, the Athenians preserved the ship that Theseus used to escape, by replacing the parts one by one as they decayed. In its original formulation, the "Ship of Theseus" paradox concerns a debate over whether or not a ship that had all of its components replaced one by one would remain the same ship.
Exacly. You need replace the parts that need it.

Offline Bob Shaw

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Some parts (or technologies) of upcoming space stations might be used by interplanetary craft, but not the space stations themselves. An obvious example is Axiom's TransHab-like module. All would need different radiation and thermal mitigation and possibly different materials. See the ESA ATV being turned into the Orion Service Module (with Shuttle OMS engines added).

Just gluing rockets and tanks to a space station and setting sail for the wild black yonder is not a goer.

Offline redneck

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My thought on the idea is that it resembles turning a mobile home into an ocean going houseboat. By the time you make all the modifications necessary for the task, it is easier, safer, and cheaper to build keel up for the intended purpose.

In the same way that remodeling an old house and bringing it up to current code can be more expensive than tearing it down and starting over.

And restoring a classic car is an expensive labor of love. More often than not, less money to purchase a new car that is far more functional.

Analogies are not exact. These three should illustrate the point a bit. Sometimes things can be modified beyond the original purpose, and sometimes it's not worth the effort. Trades always need to be done, though sometimes it is quite obvious and it takes longer to quit laughing than to explain why. Other times a detailed analysis does prove feasibility. Details matter.

Tags: ISS space station Mars 
 

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