Monday, November 06, 2006

An honest-to-goodness Space Roach Motel!

` I've stumbled across an old draft from July I didn't even know I had! Let this be a 'bonus post' to go with the upcoming Halloween post I've been neglecting to work on:

` This is basically the news from Heidi Ledford (probably a bad paraphrasing of a Nature article published online: 13 July 2006; | doi:10.1038/news060710-10):

` A miniature inflatable space hotel, filled with cockroaches and Mexican jumping beans, was launched into space from Russia on an ICBM called Genesis I on July 12. Nine hours after the launch, Bigelow Aerospace reported that the hotel had expanded, watermelon-like in shape, allowing the hotel's 'guests' to crawl throughout the 4-meter wide enclosure 550 kilometers above the planet.
` This is just one step in the process of making U.S. hotelier Robert Bigelow's dream come true. He would like to create a station that can house both researchers and people on vacation! And how? Make it inflatable - that way it's not too heavy to put up there!
` Genesis I was merely 1,360 kilograms in weight and only half its size when collapsed on earth. When it was in place, compressed air was released to fill it in. It's possible, says Bigelow, that his team may be able to make a structure of only 660 cubic meters with only two of his full-scale modules. In comparison, the International Space Station only has 425 cubic meters.
` Bigelow was actually inspired by NASA's TransHab project in the 1990s, which never came to fruition due to budget cuts. While it was in progress, however, Constance Adams and her team at NASA discovered that materials such as Kevlar could be used to prevent a 2cm meteoroid from puncturing it. Today, Bigelow uses over 40 cm of various material layers in his modules, including synthetic ceramics.
` So, they should be very well sheilded from a lot of space debris. But how long will they hold up? UV radiation tends to degrade synthetic materials. Also, folding something that thick very tightly could cause the outer surface fibers to be stretched and the inner surface would be crunched.
` Even so, inflatable structures would be a huge advantage due to the fact that the loads are so light and compact, and there would be considerably less work and fuel involved with getting these things into space.
` There are already plans for the launch of Genesis II later on this year. Though Bigelow will not send up people, he is willing to send up photos of them for $295. Further on down the road, though, he is having 50 million dollar race for a space orbiter that can carry seven people by 2010.

` As this draft was so old, I'm now wondering what else they've gotten up by now....

6 comments:

Galtron said...

What's next? A giant bug zapper for invaders from planet Zerg?

Aaron said...

That's an interesting idea. An inflatable space platform would be just as vulnerable to space debris as any other space platform. It seems that the idea would require an EVA just to board the craft once it's in orbit and inflated. That would be prime for space tourism - considering it's still several thousand dollars per pound to put something into orbit.

2 said...

well the dirtyness isn't far off... we might get dirty. Mostly involving fists though.

If that helps... (can politics go up there in the inflatable toy with the cockers...? lol)

T DWORSKY said...

I haven't had much time to come to your site lately. I'll read some later. But I just wanted to let you know that the novel with Peppy is finished! I thought you would like to know. You don't have to buy it of course but it is available on lulu.com. My storefront on lulu is www.lulu.com/tdworsky

S E E Quine said...

` Ah, T Dworsky, I envy your completion of novels. It's something I could never quite do.

` And Galtron, a Zerg Zapper sounds like a great idea! We have the technology and everything!

` Aaron, I hope we have space tourism soon! I don't want to wait until I'm old and gray!

` And 2, indeed, space stations are somewhat dirty and they smell like old socks because you cannot open the window....

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