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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  Skylab II proposed: SLS-derived deep space station

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Author Topic:   Skylab II proposed: SLS-derived deep space station
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-02-2013 11:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SPACE.com reports that NASA's first manned outpost in deep space may be a repurposed rocket part, just like the agency's first-ever astronaut abode in Earth orbit.
With a little tinkering, the upper-stage hydrogen propellant tank of NASA's huge Space Launch System rocket would make a nice and relatively cheap deep-space habitat, some researchers say. They call the proposed craft "Skylab II," an homage to the 1970s Skylab space station that was a modified third stage of a Saturn V moon rocket.

"This idea is not challenging technology," said Brand Griffin, an engineer with Gray Research, Inc., who works with the Advanced Concepts Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

"It's just trying to say, 'Is this the time to be able to look at existing assets, planned assets and incorporate those into what we have as a destination of getting humans beyond LEO [low-Earth orbit]?'" Griffin said Wednesday (March 27) during a presentation with NASA's Future In-Space Operations working group.

mode1charlie
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Posts: 424
From: Honolulu, HI, USA
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 04-02-2013 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's one option. A Bigelow BA 330 module would be another.

The Bigelow habitat would be slightly smaller in volume (330m3 v. 495m3) but less heavy (? the article doesn't say what the SLS stage would weigh, but at 20 tons the BA 330 is only 33% more mass than the Destiny module on the ISS so it would stand to reason). My understanding is that the BA330 could go up with either an Atlas V or Falcon Heavy.

It's clear that the SLS people are keen to find new things that launch system would be capable of doing. I'm not necessarily anti-SLS — just giving my analysis.

johntosullivan
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Posts: 131
From: Cork, Cork, Ireland
Registered: Oct 2005

posted 04-22-2013 10:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for johntosullivan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I understood that the Skylab used parts left over from the Saturn programme. SLS hasn't even been built, so there can't be parts left over. Why not build a fit-for-purpose station module.

Surely it cannot be beneficial to add the cost and time of making SLS fuel-tanks dual purpose?

Jim Behling
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Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 04-22-2013 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by johntosullivan:
Surely it cannot be beneficial to add the cost and time of making SLS fuel-tanks dual purpose?
The tanks wouldn't be dual purpose. A tank would be modified after the fact just like Skylab was.

johntosullivan
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Posts: 131
From: Cork, Cork, Ireland
Registered: Oct 2005

posted 04-22-2013 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for johntosullivan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But why build a fuel tank now to convert to a space station module later? Why not just build a space station module now (or later)?

I'm saying that the Skylab was conceived after Apollo was cancelled and the parts were available. Now it seems, because it worked before, we can do it again. But there is no need to do it again, as we have the benefit of hindsight that the Apollo/Skylab guys didn't have.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-22-2013 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by johntosullivan:
I'm saying that the Skylab was conceived after Apollo was cancelled and the parts were available.
Wernher von Braun first proposed converting a Saturn stage into a space station in 1964, prior to the start of Apollo. Development efforts focused on the S-IVB (rather than an an elongated S-II) because of the uncertainty of how many Saturn V rockets would be needed for the Apollo moon landings. But as Apollo missions were canceled (either due to mission success or later, budget constraints), a launch vehicle was set aside for Skylab.

Jim Behling
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Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 04-22-2013 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by johntosullivan:
But why build a fuel tank now to convert to a space station module later? Why not just build a space station module now (or later)?
Because there is little difference in the basic structure and the same tooling can be used.

Also, it wouldn't be built now, it would be built when needed using the same processes and tooling as the propellant tank.

All times are CT (US)

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