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The ISS - An Interplanetary Spaceship

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posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:00 PM
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Can the International Space Station be successfully converted into an interplanetary spaceship? I think so, with all the money and gear up there it is a matter of reassembly and a propulsion system.



This article explores the idea of converting the station. What do you guys think? Should we? Would it be worth it?

www.dailygalaxy.com...




According to Benson the critics to his theory would continue their attack, and say that the ISS still needs a propulsion drive to get it places. Benson agrees, and points to work done by the US and Japanese space programs on ion-drive systems. According to Benson, both countries have conducted successful tests on such a system, and considering that the ISS is already in space, the more methodical and long burning acceleration (and subsequent deceleration) would be perfect for the ISS.




posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:03 PM
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i don't think it's feasible. the stress you would put on the joints / hull from torque and acceleration would probably tear it apart. you might be able to accelerate VERY slowly like the ION drive suggestion, but that wouldn't make it a very useful interplanetary vehicle, would it? =)

[edit on 15-7-2008 by an0maly33]



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:07 PM
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I totally agree. But I think those issues can be overcome, maybe not in the immediate future, but with the advent of the private space industry the technology and expertise to convert the station into something else will be there. Hopefully......



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:14 PM
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Everything that is going up above us that we know about is just a fraction of what really is going on.

And like an0maly33 said, it isn't strong enough to sustain the forces of speed.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:16 PM
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Who would want to equip such an ugly-looking transport with advanced propulsion? At least they should make it look like the Enterprise-D.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:19 PM
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reply to post by Grey Magic
 


technically, speed isn't the issue. it's all about acceleration. the whole thing would need to accelerate uniformly to have a chance of not breaking up. strapping a booster to the back of it won't go over so well. you could reinforce it, but by the time you retrofit it, you might as well just build a new craft specifically designed for the task. the ISS is old and busted anyway.

side note - you might want to shorten your avatar image. i got spanked for being a few pixels too tall. yours is quite large. =)

[edit]

agreed. enterprise D is the sexiest ship evar. =)

[edit on 15-7-2008 by an0maly33]



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:21 PM
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The ISS is moving very fast right now. The acceleration on the joints can be minimized by accelerating every section in tandem at the same rate thus neutralizing stresses though I doubt this would be needed because we are talking about materials that were built with the threat of micrometeorites in mind.


There will have to be a crew and pilot module added however with built in radiation protection and when venturing out into the other parts of the station they will have to wear radiation suits or monitor their exposure. The ISS wasn't designed for interplanetary travel in mind.

[edit on 15-7-2008 by sardion2000]



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:22 PM
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I think the idea is a good one. The technical details to work out are obviously quite fundamental, but none the less, constructing a ship in orbit using parts which are already up there is an attractive idea. The propulsion being discussed in the article is ION engines which gradually gain acceleration.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:29 PM
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Even with the structure intact though, the inside of that things gotta be really uncomfortable! No way I'd wanna make any kinda long term journey trapped in there!



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:36 PM
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Interesting idea. I've never really thought about it before. I would think, however, that after giving the ISS all the upgrades needed to do such a thing, it would vaguely resemble what it is now...but that's just my opinion. Also, I would think there would be a cheaper alternative - unless you intend on yanking it from orbit and restructuring it on Earth. The cost of shuttle missions upgrading it in orbit would be astronomical.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 03:52 PM
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Originally posted by an0maly33
reply to post by Grey Magic
 
side note - you might want to shorten your avatar image. i got spanked for being a few pixels too tall. yours is quite large. =)


Weird, I don't use an avatar at all


what do you see?



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 04:01 PM
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I think that message was for me, my avatar i had on before was way too big lol.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 09:27 PM
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Originally posted by an0maly33

technically, speed isn't the issue. it's all about acceleration. the whole thing would need to accelerate uniformly to have a chance of not breaking up. strapping a booster to the back of it won't go over so well. you could reinforce it, but by the time you retrofit it, you might as well just build a new craft specifically designed for the task. the ISS is old and busted anyway.


Quite right. Perhaps slow burning thrusters strategically placed could do the job - the shuttle and soyuz are able to reboost it without damage. Essentially that's the same type of solution as the large ion drive idea with a much lower ISP, but a slightly faster acceleration. The one issue not discussed so far is mass.

When completed ISS will have a mass of 419,000 kg roughly. Low earth orbit is roughly "halfway to anywhere" so you need to roughly double your energy input to get it to anywhere else in the solar system. Most rockets have a propellant mass fraction of about 90% fuel, so for the ISS that means about 4 million kg of fuel would be needed at the station and another 40 million kg would be needed to get that 4 million to orbit in the first place - not going to happen. Ion drives are about 800% as efficient as chemical rockets, but I think the incredibly long travel times make it a non-starter for human propulsion any time in the forseeable future.



posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 02:11 AM
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This can certainly happen with propellant-efficient ion engines, or a plasma engine such as the VASIMR currently being developed by the Ad Astra Rocket Company, former NASA ASPL. Check out their website: www.adastrarocket.com

The only thing limiting the space station's functionality as an interplanetary vessel is electric power supply, which, at distances further from the sun such as Jupiter, etc., is low compared to Earth orbit by using solar power. Thermonuclear power or some sort of reactor would be needed for proposal to become a reality. The space station is ideal as an interplanetary "mother ship" in my opinion, once you start to think about all the things you would need to build such a ship. Acceleration forces wouldn't be an issue because all you need to do is accelerate slowly, but constantly, to gain the speeds necessary to break Earth's gravity well and reach your destination. It would take time, but what does one expect?! At least you'd have the comfort of a nice big ship.



posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 08:51 AM
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Originally posted by Anonymous ATS
The only thing limiting the space station's functionality as an interplanetary vessel is electric power supply, which, at distances further from the sun such as Jupiter, etc., is low compared to Earth orbit by using solar power. Thermonuclear power or some sort of reactor would be needed for proposal to become a reality.

Well your above proposal already requires the presence of a nuclear reactor to power a VASIMR that large. That should do the trick power-wise, but ISS would still not be properly equipped for travel to the outer planets. Jupiter has an extremely intense magnetic field which contains heavy amounts of radiation that even affected the unmanned voyager probes. Our own Van Allen belts are a cakewalk by comparison - probes and humans can safely pass through them when we're just "passing through" without stopping, but Jupiter will not be so forgiving.


Acceleration forces wouldn't be an issue because all you need to do is accelerate slowly, but constantly, to gain the speeds necessary to break Earth's gravity well and reach your destination. It would take time, but what does one expect?! At least you'd have the comfort of a nice big ship.

Well you need to make it fast enough that your consumable supplies don't run out before you reach your destination where you, hopefully, prelaunched more supplies. A VASIMR is more reasonable in that sense than an ion drive for sure, but other limitations will keep you from getting to any planets further than mars. Still, it's not a bad idea for travel to Mars or Venus.

[edit on 16-7-2008 by ngchunter]



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