Author Topic: Supply vehicle solar array reuse  (Read 1546 times)

Offline MarsInMyLifetime

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Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« on: 01/30/2011 01:57 am »
Thinking about the inevitable re-entry disposal of the currently-visiting supply vehicles to the ISS, I wondered whether there is any benefit to harvesting the solar arrays before undocking, assuming that battery power on the vehicles would be sufficient to run the electronics as long as needed for disposal. A practical architecture would likely posit having 1) a common physical attachment and pluggable electrical interface, 2) availability of an "array farm" bench within robot arm reach on one of the trusses, with awaiting rotating joints and plug interfaces, 3) a protocol for detachment and relocation of arrays prior to undocking. It just seems like an easily reused and valuable resource, but for commonality of interfaces and processes. There's a macabre aspect of looking out onto a lineup of headdresses of deceased ancestors, perhaps, but considering the expected rates of resupply, wouldn't there be aggregate value in this practice?
« Last Edit: 01/30/2011 02:01 am by MarsInMyLifetime »
Don

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #1 on: 01/31/2011 01:11 am »
To be honest with you I think that if the Dragon proves successful than there will be no need for recycling supply ships because they will be reusable.

Offline Rhyshaelkan

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #2 on: 01/31/2011 01:37 am »
The trunk part of Dragon holds the solar panels, yes? It is not reusable, as it does not built for reentry. So I see the point of the OP. If these solar panels are already in space. Why not cannibalize their good parts for something else?
I am not a professional. Just a rational amateur dreaming of mankind exploiting the universe.

Offline MarsInMyLifetime

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #3 on: 01/31/2011 02:26 am »
Yes, that's the point. HTV has cylindrical panels that would not detach in a reusable fashion. But ATV, Dragon, and Progress all have flat panels on rotating masts. These are many opportunities to keep something useful that would otherwise be disposed of by deorbit, especially if the arrays are redundant by then. If necessary, salvage only half from each vehicle to leave it with contingency capability for deferred reentry. That's still many watts of new permanent power per supply visit.
Don

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #4 on: 01/31/2011 03:05 am »
OK there are three issues. 

1.  Where you would put them?  You cannot just glue them onto the side of the station.  They need to be positioned in order to get light from the sun.

2.  What need is there for them?  The only use I can see for them would be on the ISS, and I do not think the station is lacking in power.  The dragons panels only deliver about 1.5 kW, while the ISS has over 100kW.

3.  It is not just a matter of attaching the solar panels.  You need an accompanying power transforming and management system in order to convert and distribute that power.

Offline MarsInMyLifetime

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #5 on: 01/31/2011 04:20 am »
The point was whether SOME reuse could be made, given the still serviceable nature of arrays facing disposal.

The abstract proposal might really be one of encouraging a salvage-driven economy based on common interfaces on otherwise disposable craft, thereby ensuring future parts reuse as long as there is a way to stow such materiel until it is needed. Risk management often considers caching for contingencies. Solar arrays just look like an obvious candidate in that regard.
Don

Offline SpacexULA

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #6 on: 01/31/2011 04:35 am »
The point was whether SOME reuse could be made, given the still serviceable nature of arrays facing disposal.

The abstract proposal might really be one of encouraging a salvage-driven economy based on common interfaces on otherwise disposable craft, thereby ensuring future parts reuse as long as there is a way to stow such materiel until it is needed. Risk management often considers caching for contingencies. Solar arrays just look like an obvious candidate in that regard.

I understand the desire, but like many things we want to do in space, the devil is in the details.

-For these devices to be reused, they would need to be designed with that in mind.  Considering none of the vehicles have reuse of their solar panels built in at this time, all would need to go though redesign to allow for this.  That's not going to be cheap.

-All resupply vehicles are used for rubbish removal, and the ISS produces a significant amount of rubbish.  You would need to remove the solar panels, but leave enough for the vehicle to power itself though reentry and burn up.  So doubt you could take 100% of the solar panels without adding more batteries.

-These solar arrays are going to have to be mounted somewhere, and cubic meters on the exterior of the ISS that could support these solar panels and not get in the way of radiators, storage, the arms, ports, windows, or the existing solar systems is in short supply.

-Another thing in short supply is man hours to do this operation.  Unless it's a very very good design the removal is going to require at minimum dedicated robot arm time, if not EVA time.  The crew of the ISS, and the crew at the centers are already scheduled solid throughout the day, to make it worth the time for the little energy it would provide would take some skull drudgery, it might be a wash in the end.

Something like this would make a ton of since for an ISS2, but I just don't think it's practical to implement for ISS at this time, especially considering  it's only got 8-13 years left.
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Offline Stan Black

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #7 on: 01/31/2011 08:03 am »
Parom was one idea from Energia - a reusable tug.


http://www.energia.ru/eng/news/news-2006/public_07-01.html

Offline Danderman

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #8 on: 01/31/2011 12:55 pm »
The Progress arrays are fixed, they don't rotate. And I don't think that they are rated for much more than the 6 month lifetime of Progress, in other words, they are pretty cheap.

Offline MarsInMyLifetime

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Re: Supply vehicle solar array reuse
« Reply #9 on: 01/31/2011 01:38 pm »
I understand the current obstacles. It will be interesting to see if next-gen  designs include standards whereby parts could be reaped or exchanged more readily. Thanks for the useful insights.
Don

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