Easier Space Station, Space Ships

  1. Build space station sections out of generic "air-bags" made of multiple layers of Nomex and Kevlar fabric. Inflate sections in space. Ship up internal components separate (modular). Make attachment points throughout inside of Kevlar/Nomex bags. Bags may be reinforced with lightweight "tent type" framing to be installed inside after inflation. Bag sections could be attached to one another with ultra-heavy duty "zip lock" interfaces, externally or internally. Several dozen large sections could be carried into space by the Space Shuttle. If a section deteriorated or experienced problems, replacement would be easy. Sections could be made in virtually any shape - from space ships to large auditoriums to large office complexes.

  2. Kevlar/Nomex construction would shield against puncture. A self sealing property (like that used in Uniroyal tires) could be added for protection. Though having 6 layers of Kevlar/Nomex would already make the bag skin virtually "bullet-proof".

  3. A rotary dispensing device (like those used to dispense large rolls of paper) installed in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle could hold a very large bag section or several smaller sections. After each section is deployed, it would be inflated and installed.

  4. Flexible solar panels could be attached to the sections to provide electric power.

  5. The method of building large rigid sections for individual launch by the Space Shuttle is too slow and far too costly.

  6. It is conceivable for the Space Shuttle to easily carry a 1,000,000cuft bag section cube (100sqft on a side ~ 10 story building). If we give the cube 6 layers (for safety) of fabric: for a 1,000,000cuft cube, standard market Kevlar fabric style 285 (for comparison) would weigh <375lbs and cost <$27,000 (material only). The cube would be folded accordion style into the orbiter payload bay or rolled onto the rotary deployment spindle. After deployment and inflation, high strength/light weight structural truss elements would be assembled inside of the cube. Lights, equipment, and furniture would be attached to strong points built into the truss elements. Such a structure would be very flexible - the entire configuration could easily be changed at any time. Except for the initial deployment and insertion of construction materials, most of the construction and assembly would be inside the bag section - a shirt sleeve environment.

  7. Entire pallets of equipment could be bagged. The bagged pallets would be towed into place, attached to a magnetic/zip lock docking foyer/entrance way, inflated, and emptied. Making populating the inside of each bag section relatively safe and simple.

  8. To generate popular enthusiasm and excitement in the space program, bag sections could be made to resemble popular science fiction space ships. Like the balloons used in the Macy's Thanksgivings Day Parade, bag sections could be built in virtually any shape.

    Imagine the excitement generated by deploying a bag section built in the shape of the USS Enterprise?

  9. Truss elements could be produced by astronauts with a portable miniature extrusion factory. With self contained chemical tanks, shaping and cutting. The miniature truss factory could give options for producing various truss elements. Truss elements could be designed to snap together - like Lego blocks - for easy, tool free assembly/disassembly. Making truss elements with carbon fiber would make the overall strength of the entire structure much stronger and much lighter than steel.

  10. Bright white LED's could be sewn at regular intervals (perhaps every 2 ft) into the bag fabric. With flexible solar panels on the outside of the bags for power, the LED's would provide initial lighting within each bag section. Alternatively, large flexible glowing panels could also be used.

  11. The main propulsion for a "bag " Space Ship could be a based on a "gauss gun". The kinetic energy needed to move the ship would come from a circular ring "gauss gun", perhaps with the weight (projectile) being liquid metal. The electro-magnetic pulses in the coils could be computer controlled in a way that would determine the direction and speed of the craft. A nuclear power generator would be the main electrical power source for this.

  12. An alternative method of rigidizing the bag sections, would be to sew at regular intervals throughout the inside of the bag section hollow I-beam bags (distributed in a manner which provides maximum strength). Once the initial inflation of the bag section was complete, astronauts could inject self-hardening foam into the hollow I-beams. This entire initial set-up could be done automatically - or on command - as soon as the bag section had cleared the Space Shuttle. Like a life-raft that automatically inflates once it is thrown in the water.

    Another method to rigidize the bag, would be to put Kevlar reinforcing webbing between 2 of the inner fabric layers. When the self hardening foam was injected into the web space of the bag, the Kevlar webbing would give the exterior of the bag the strength of reinforced concrete. This method would effectively create a hard, air-tight shell over 100% of the bag section.

  13. Much of the technology for making the balloon bag sections does already exist - the Space Suits used by the astronauts are miniature bag sections (though they use different fabrics). All the ports, connections, air tight couplings, etc.. could be recycled for use in bag sections.

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