Please be advised that this website has been archived and will no longer be updated. The 20 chapter technical paper and the business plan is only in its first draft and is therefore rendered obsolete. There have been many changes to the design and direction of the paper.

For a detailed treatment of our space concepts as High School S.T.E.M. projects, please visit: http://www.stemfortheclassroom.com

The Management

Building a Better Space Station

The one eternal question that agonizes engineers and planners is: can a way be found to improve on a design? Of course, the answer is always yes, so instead of wasting time answering silly questions, new and better ways of doing things will always present itself, if one is willing to embrace change. A space design thus gets to improve. So the question that we at NMSTARG have agonized over is: can we make our Low Earth Orbit Station (LEOS) better? And as it turns out, the answer is a resounding yes. Bigelow Aerospace rocks. Their inflatable products are awesome. Their inflatable station is launched into orbit, and then, well, inflated. What a concept. The advantages over a "Tin Can" pressurized module (such as the ones used by the ISS, and, NMSTARG) are obvious. For about the same launch configuration, you can almost triple the pressurized, usable volume. This is not some future dream. This is current reality. To flight test the concept, Bigelow launched the Genesis I in 2006 and Genesis II in 2007. Both of them are still up there. You can even track them in Earth orbit in real time here and here. It has a kevlar micrometeoroid shield, windows, it's very own solar panels, and can be interconnected very easily, with very little assembly required; just hook 'em up and go! It really is an amazing space habitat, and any commercial space program should be incorporating these exciting products into their schemes. So, um, why aren't we using them? Because the Bigelow BA-330, while super awesome, a) won't fit in the REL Skylon payload bay, and b) is too heavy to launch with the Skylon vehicle (sob). Otherwise, we'd be using it like a big dog. The Skylon can carry a 42 foot long payload; the Bigelow is 45 feet long. The Skylon can handle 32,500 lbs to LEO; the Bigelow weighs 44,000 lbs. But wait. Just because we can't fly this truly remarkable space station on the Skylon, doesn't mean that we have to abandon the whole thing, right? Now you're talking my language. Let's explore some answers, shall we? :: But first, let's see what we had before. Remember that each module could comfortably fit inside the payload bay, so we believe that assembling the LEOS would be relatively easy (insert tab A into slot B...). The Old LEOS Top View: Side View: Crew: 72 People Total Power Requirement: 98 kW Total Pressurized Volume: About 40,000 cubic feet As you can see, the old LEOS design is adequate, and fairly easy to lift into orbit and assemble. At 40,000 cubic feet per 72 people, that's over 550 cubic feet per person. :: The New LEOS Top View: Side View: :: Crew: 72 People Total Power Requirement: 43 kW Total Pressurized Volume: About 100,000 cubic feet Wow. We more than doubled our pressurized volume! As a matter a fact, the pressurized volume comes to over 1,300 cubic feet per person! :: The Math So what would it take to get these Bigelow space Stations to LEO? As it turns out, Space X is developing just the vehicle. It's called the Space X Falcon Heavy, and it will be able to lift 120,000 lbs into LEO for a cost of about $150M (USD). This means that two (2) Bigelow BA 330 space stations plus all the support structures can be lifted in one launch. Eight (8) Bigelow's means four (4) Falcon Heavy launches, or around $600M. We estimate that each BA 330 will cost $150M, so eight comes to $1,200M. So the grand total comes to $1,800M. We believe that it is well worth the extra cost to be able to use this unique and wonderful space item. A 100,000 cubic foot space station would certainly be something useful, to say the least. :: Conclusion The LEOS space station is now a more habitable place for the crew, because we more than doubled the amount of "space" each crew and passenger has. The Bigelow's are strong and sturdy, and should last several years before replacement. Now that our LEOS is set, we can move on to other, more pressing matters: how to have fun in space. Specifically, how to get tourists up there, and what to do with them when they get there. Of course, that's a story for another day.

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