As NASA is working to send humans into deep space, the Agency looking for new types space of the housing in which the astronauts could live far away from Earth. Company Nanoracks offers an interesting idea: instead of building something completely new, to take and to remodel existing space hardware to create residential areas. Their plan is to convert the spent rocket tanks in inhabitable places for life explorers of deep space.
Now Nanoracks has already signed a contract with NASA, and it starts to make your vision a reality. Last summer the company joined the list of six who will advance to the second round of NASA's program NextSTEP, initiatives, concepts and ground prototype of a new space habitats. With a renewed contract Nanoracks can begin to develop a concept called Ixion, and to turn the waste tank missile in the environment, which then will check the conditions of outer space.
In principle, the company wants to use equipment that otherwise just throw away. When the rocket launch a satellite, the probe is usually delivered to the final orbit at the upper level transport, which has its own engine and fuel. The top tier usually goes into orbit along with the satellite, but the fuel in her tanks, and there is no more free space.
If these steps come at a relatively low orbit, they usually reduced them by hand; any remaining fuel is used to direct the stage to the Ground and burning in the atmosphere. Thus, steps are added to the growing amount of space debris around the Earth. But instead burn these stages, Nanoracks want to leave them in orbit and process, turning it into something completely new. "We complement what is already there," says Mike Johnson. "You can save a great".
According to the plan, the remaining fuel is released into space, completely cleaning the tank. Or if the rocket uses cryogenic propellants, as do many modern vehicles, the materials boil within a few days, since the stage rotates around the Earth and heated by the sun. When the tank is completely empty, Nanoracks loads in the air under pressure from a small ship in orbit. Each of these homes will have small modules that are attached to the outside, which will be valuable supplies, life support systems and other cargo. Modules can also be used for combining with other dwellings, existing in space.
After the tank is sealed, it will launch the crew — people or robots to arrange the interior. Most rocket tanks are equipped with small hatches, and the company plans to add to these hatches connecting tunnels that crews could get inside. Then added a folding fabric to make the interior more comfortable for astronauts and diversified metal construction. "Equipment snap is quite simple; it is made of cloth, and embedded in it wire," Johnson said. "Compared with other ways of creating habitable environments, that are quite cheap — from the point of view of the cheapness of mass low cost materials and low cost of volume."
It Will take time before new land will be open to people. First you need to thoroughly work through the concept and test it on the ground. Then the engineering team will try to convert one of the tanks of the upper stage "Centaurus", which produces United Launch Alliance. Currently, this tier is used on the Atlas V rocket and will soon be used on Vulcan. Then the company wants to attach the waste tank to the International space station for testing. And if all goes well, this tank is just there and will remain. It would be possible to make a commercial module.
Nanoracks plans to attach your tank to the ISS in the next four years, says Johnson. But while the company will first contract with NASA, which includes studies of the viability of the concept. Of all the companies in the program NextSTEP, the only Nanoracks plans to convert existing tanks, and Johnson hopes that this would provide flexibility in the promotion. The application range is too broad.
typically, solar panels are made up of many photovoltaic modules.
the launch of the space telescope «James Webb» (JWST), which will take the place of the old Hubble, is scheduled for October 2018.