posted on Nov, 4 2008 @ 03:56 PM
I'm wondering, why didn't the U.S. make a Space shuttle external tank derived space station, where astronauts would live inside oxygen and hydrogen
The External tank (ET) gaines 98% of orbital velocity before it is dropped. If you launch an empty Shuttle I'm sure it could gain full orbital
velocity and enter orbit. It would be much cheaper, since one Shuttle launch costs officially 400 M$, in fact the cost is around 1B$. That's 1/100 of
the cost of the ISS (cost: 100B$). All you'd need to do, is to make 5 or so expeditions, maybe 10 to equip the tank station with internal equipment,
connection between LOX and LH2 tanks, docking modules, ... But it would cost less than 10B$!!!
Whats more, is volume. In ET-derived space station you could build whole floors, because volume is so huge. The volume of liquid oxygen tank (which is
the smaller one) is 553 m3, the volume of hydrogen tank is impressive 1500 m3(!!), while the volume of whole ISS is 358 m3(!?).
I know you'd say the tank isn't optimized for that, but the tanks are not mass produced. You could make ONE tank a bit special, a bit optimized for
living and for later arriving docking modules and so.
Another problem is political. ISS was purposely made to warm relations between Washington and Moscow (at that time in post-soviet Russia). But I'm
asking myself why didn't U.S. make such station sooner. The first Shuttle flight was in 1981!! Reagan administration considered such station
possible, but after the Challenger disaster ended the project. Later they purposed Space station Freedom, which was also smaller, more
So... what does the ATS think about it? I find the idea really interesting and just can't understand...