Author Topic: Unmanned Space Lab  (Read 10551 times)

Offline TrevorMonty

Unmanned Space Lab
« on: 05/10/2016 10:04 AM »
In this ISDC 2015 presentation from Nanoracks, they talked about unmanned space lab/station being on their wish list.



There are a lot of merits to an unmanned space lab, cost being the most important thing. Not all the technology is in place to make this possible just yet but it is getting there.

The Unmanned Space Lab.
A free flying Orbital Cynus is the prime candidate for this.
1) It would need to fitted out with nanoracks.
2) Robotic arms to load, operate and unload experiments.
3) Airlock or/and Docking port to receive robot supply vehicles.

Supply vehicles can be disposable but there is a requirement for returning samples to earth. Intuitive Machines' TRV is one possibility for this.
http://spacenews.com/42387commercial-vehicle-promises-more-frequent-return-of-iss-experiments/
Because their are no crew on board, safety requirements can be relaxed. This would allow better propulsion systems on TRV, which will be necessary to enable it to reach Lab after deployment by LV.

Sizing supply vehicles so they can use the up and coming small LVs eg Firefly, LauncherOne, Electron allows for lower cost and more frequent launches. Cost per kg maybe higher than ISS but they don't need to carry crew supplies and station spares, so cost per experiment maybe comparable than ISS.

There are a lot of choices for orbit choices, but being close to ISS has a few positives. The space lab could visit ISS for servicing that only a human can do. Supply vehicles could ride share on ISS supply missions, eg mount TRV in Dragon trunk.
 

Offline Roy_H

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #1 on: 05/15/2016 04:01 PM »
I would think the main advantage to a free flyer would be a possibility of no microgravity or vibration. This would require a low power em drive that runs near constantly to precisely counter air drag.

I am surprised to see so little interest in SpaceX's Dragonlab. Maybe the Draco's would require larger fuel tanks,but I think they could do an adequate job of countering drag to provide a near perfect weightless environment.
"If we don't achieve re-usability, I will consider SpaceX to be a failure." - Elon Musk

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #2 on: 05/15/2016 04:58 PM »
I would think the main advantage to a free flyer would be a possibility of no microgravity or vibration. This would require a low power em drive that runs near constantly to precisely counter air drag.

I am surprised to see so little interest in SpaceX's Dragonlab. Maybe the Draco's would require larger fuel tanks,but I think they could do an adequate job of countering drag to provide a near perfect weightless environment.
Cost of Dragon lab is probably biggest obstacles. One set of experiments needs to cover the complete mission costs.

Being able to deliver new experiments to orbiting lab allows initial mission cost to be share by dozens of experiments over years.

Offline Jim

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #3 on: 05/15/2016 06:45 PM »
I would think the main advantage to a free flyer would be a possibility of no microgravity or vibration. This would require a low power em drive that runs near constantly to precisely counter air drag.

I am surprised to see so little interest in SpaceX's Dragonlab. Maybe the Draco's would require larger fuel tanks,but I think they could do an adequate job of countering drag to provide a near perfect weightless environment.

Huh?  The Dracos thrust is too high.  They are worse than drag alone

Offline brickmack

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #4 on: 06/24/2016 09:37 PM »
A free flying Orbital Cynus is the prime candidate for this.

...

There are a lot of choices for orbit choices, but being close to ISS has a few positives. The space lab could visit ISS for servicing that only a human can do. Supply vehicles could ride share on ISS supply missions, eg mount TRV in Dragon trunk.

This is an interesting idea which I think has some promise. Something along the lines of an American Oka-T. Cygnus is non-refuelable, but I think it should have enough delta v to support 3 or 4 rendezvouses and stationkeeping, if its payload is light enough. Launch it, visit ISS every 6 months or something to swap out experiments, and then deorbit it and replace it once the tanks are dry

Offline Jet Black

Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #5 on: 07/22/2016 09:51 AM »
I would think the main advantage to a free flyer would be a possibility of no microgravity or vibration. This would require a low power em drive that runs near constantly to precisely counter air drag.

I am surprised to see so little interest in SpaceX's Dragonlab. Maybe the Draco's would require larger fuel tanks,but I think they could do an adequate job of countering drag to provide a near perfect weightless environment.
Cost of Dragon lab is probably biggest obstacles. One set of experiments needs to cover the complete mission costs.

Being able to deliver new experiments to orbiting lab allows initial mission cost to be share by dozens of experiments over years.

If the lab itself (dragon module) is recoverable and reusable, I don't see how it is an issue, after all, the experiments still have to be launched and the cost of the experiments still has to cover the cost of the launch. Even if the lab isn't reusable, that's no different to launching something to the ISS on a Cygnus (since the transport/lab module is lost)
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. -- Richard Feynman

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #6 on: 07/22/2016 07:28 PM »
Instead using new small LVs eg Electron to supply this lab. Design an unmanned lab to be launched by these small LVs eg mini Dragonlab or Dream Chaser.

The Electron is capable of 400kg to LEO (180km?), a low orbit is quite acceptable as mission will only last days.



Offline QuantumG

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #7 on: 07/23/2016 01:25 AM »
The Electron is capable of 400kg to LEO (180km?), a low orbit is quite acceptable as mission will only last days.

I think you're about 200kg over, but yeah.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #8 on: 07/23/2016 02:27 AM »
The Electron is capable of 400kg to LEO (180km?), a low orbit is quite acceptable as mission will only last days.

I think you're about 200kg over, but yeah.


You could get some rodents and small plants into 200 kg. Things like crystal making equipment should fit. If a film canister can reenter so could a small capsule.

Offline floss

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #9 on: 04/07/2017 07:41 PM »
Man tended free flyer a small station that with the docking systems off ATV and two logistics modules , ISS node 4 and a long duration service module.

Growing protein crystals and  doing long duration experiments without the astronauts bumping around is the market .

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #10 on: 08/08/2018 01:10 AM »
This article is about concept of robotic (unmmaned) space stations (RSS) mainly in LEO. Far as I know its not related to any commercial ones in development.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3548/1

SSL have been working towards a RSS in GEO, they call it Persistent Platform. There is lot to be said for RSS in LEO or SSO. He pointed out the new small LVs are ideal for delivering payloads in these orbits. The likes of Electron with Curie 3rd stage would be ideal, would still need the ORV.

Online Asteroza

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #11 on: 08/10/2018 03:46 AM »
This article is about concept of robotic (unmmaned) space stations (RSS) mainly in LEO. Far as I know its not related to any commercial ones in development.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3548/1

SSL have been working towards a RSS in GEO, they call it Persistent Platform. There is lot to be said for RSS in LEO or SSO. He pointed out the new small LVs are ideal for delivering payloads in these orbits. The likes of Electron with Curie 3rd stage would be ideal, would still need the ORV.

I've said this elsewhere, but a small cargo spec will need to evolve (via defacto standards?) including visiting small cargo delivery vehicle hard mount berths. Think something simple like a grapple fixture with power and perhaps cooling to take care of visiting vehicle house loads.

Cargo can arrive in sealed canisters sized roughly for a JAXA airlock. RSS can grab the cargo with an arm and stuff it into the airlock, then internal systems can transfer the cargo from the canister. If you allow canisters sized for a Nanoracks Bishop airlock though, then you are essentially committing to a CBM interface anyways (and implying something like Cargo Dragon), and might as well do shirtsleeve transfer through a CBM style berth with internal arms/systems (Uses SPHERES as minitugs inside?).

If an enterprising startup could design an OTV/ORV for small launchers that can ride on a multitude of providers, they would get to define such a defacto small cargo spec.

Offline Roy_H

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #12 on: 09/11/2018 06:10 PM »
I would think the main advantage to a free flyer would be a possibility of no microgravity or vibration. This would require a low power em drive that runs near constantly to precisely counter air drag.

I am surprised to see so little interest in SpaceX's Dragonlab. Maybe the Draco's would require larger fuel tanks,but I think they could do an adequate job of countering drag to provide a near perfect weightless environment.

Huh?  The Dracos thrust is too high.  They are worse than drag alone

Not Super Dracos, standard Dracos. They would not have to operate continuously, pulsed mode is fine. Dracos can produce very short pulses. Imagine the payload to be a box in the capsule. Once in orbit it would be released and the spacecraft would use its thrusters to keep the box floating free in the center of the cabin. It would be allowed to drift some, but not far enough to be in danger of contacting a wall before corrective action is made by the spacecraft to re-center the payload.
"If we don't achieve re-usability, I will consider SpaceX to be a failure." - Elon Musk

Offline TripleSeven

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #13 on: 09/11/2018 06:22 PM »
Man tended free flyer a small station that with the docking systems off ATV and two logistics modules , ISS node 4 and a long duration service module.

Growing protein crystals and  doing long duration experiments without the astronauts bumping around is the market .

OSC seems to be niching for the free flyer role.  I suspect that they will get it eventually

Offline jbenton

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #14 on: 09/11/2018 06:56 PM »
I would think the main advantage to a free flyer would be a possibility of no microgravity or vibration. This would require a low power em drive that runs near constantly to precisely counter air drag.

I am surprised to see so little interest in SpaceX's Dragonlab. Maybe the Draco's would require larger fuel tanks,but I think they could do an adequate job of countering drag to provide a near perfect weightless environment.

Huh?  The Dracos thrust is too high.  They are worse than drag alone

Not Super Dracos, standard Dracos. They would not have to operate continuously, pulsed mode is fine. Dracos can produce very short pulses. Imagine the payload to be a box in the capsule. Once in orbit it would be released and the spacecraft would use its thrusters to keep the box floating free in the center of the cabin. It would be allowed to drift some, but not far enough to be in danger of contacting a wall before corrective action is made by the spacecraft to re-center the payload.

Standard Dracos have a thrust of 440 Newtons how powerful are the thrusters on the Cygnus?

Offline TripleSeven

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #15 on: 09/11/2018 07:17 PM »
I would think the main advantage to a free flyer would be a possibility of no microgravity or vibration. This would require a low power em drive that runs near constantly to precisely counter air drag.

I am surprised to see so little interest in SpaceX's Dragonlab. Maybe the Draco's would require larger fuel tanks,but I think they could do an adequate job of countering drag to provide a near perfect weightless environment.

Huh?  The Dracos thrust is too high.  They are worse than drag alone

Not Super Dracos, standard Dracos. They would not have to operate continuously, pulsed mode is fine. Dracos can produce very short pulses. Imagine the payload to be a box in the capsule. Once in orbit it would be released and the spacecraft would use its thrusters to keep the box floating free in the center of the cabin. It would be allowed to drift some, but not far enough to be in danger of contacting a wall before corrective action is made by the spacecraft to re-center the payload.

Standard Dracos have a thrust of 440 Newtons how powerful are the thrusters on the Cygnus?

The SM also contains the Main Propulsion and Attitude Control System of the Spacecraft. Cygnus features IHI BT-4 thrusters for orbit adjustment maneuvers. BT-4 was developed by IHI Aerospace, Japan and has a dry mass of 4 kilograms and a length of 0.65 meters. The engine provides 450 Newtons of Thrust using Monomethylhydrazine fuel and Nitrogen Tetroxide Oxidizer. The propellants are stored in spherical tanks that are pressurized with Helium. The Attitude Control System of Cygnus is used for re-orientation and small rendezvous burns using 32 monopropellant thrusters each with a nominal thrust setting of 31 Newtons.

it doesnt take much squinting to see a gravity gradient device that allows for very low g operation..

Offline Jim

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Re: Unmanned Space Lab
« Reply #16 on: 09/12/2018 03:00 PM »
I would think the main advantage to a free flyer would be a possibility of no microgravity or vibration. This would require a low power em drive that runs near constantly to precisely counter air drag.

I am surprised to see so little interest in SpaceX's Dragonlab. Maybe the Draco's would require larger fuel tanks,but I think they could do an adequate job of countering drag to provide a near perfect weightless environment.

Huh?  The Dracos thrust is too high.  They are worse than drag alone

Not Super Dracos, standard Dracos. They would not have to operate continuously, pulsed mode is fine. Dracos can produce very short pulses. Imagine the payload to be a box in the capsule. Once in orbit it would be released and the spacecraft would use its thrusters to keep the box floating free in the center of the cabin. It would be allowed to drift some, but not far enough to be in danger of contacting a wall before corrective action is made by the spacecraft to re-center the payload.

I was referring to standard Dracos.   
Your idea is not feasible.

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