Space Habitat Design Overview
 

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The Space Habitat will be built in two stages.  Alpha will consist of the Factory/Facilities Module, the Cupola/Docking Module and the Propulsion Module.  Beta will consist of all of these elements, plus the Habitation Module, Airlock A and Airlock B.

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Factory/Facilities Module

This is the area where materials will be manufactured, and where facilities will be provided for its various activities and uses. This module will be pressurized and will have spin-induced artificial gravity.  When it is a part of Space Habitat Beta, it will serve as an emergency habitat, in the event that the main habitat module is damaged.  It will be separable from the remainder of the Beta Habitat, to serve as an emergency escape vehicle.

The module's diameter will be between 30 and 40 meters.  To produce lunar-equivalent gravity at a 3 RPM spin rate, its diameter should be about 35 meters, so this will be the target diameter.  Its shape will be a cylinder up to 20 meters long, with elliptical end caps.

This module will be the habitation module when used as the main element of Space Habitat Alpha, and it will accommodate up to 50 occupants.  Although some electric power will be derived from solar panels, the module will also require a nuclear reactor to provide additional power for its internal functions and for electric thrusters.  This will be especially true if the Alpha Habitat is used for interplanetary travel.

The module's pressure vessel will be made primarily from Vectran, a fabric material with a tensile strength five times that of steel.  This will make it feasible to launch the pressure vessel from Earth in one piece.  It will include an internal frame, connected to the pressure vessel, to provide support for a floor and other systems within the module.

Propulsion Module

This module will be unpressurized and will contain the chemical and electric thrusters. It will also contain storage tanks for propellants.  Since the habitat will always be in orbit or trajectory modes, the required thrust will be much lower than if it had to be launched from a surface, against gravitational force.  When part of the Beta module, thrusters will be added to move the extra mass.  NTRs (Nuclear Thermal Rockets) may be included.

Cupola/Docking Module

This module will normally be pressurized, but may be depressurized for certain operations.  It will include one or more docking stations for the transfer of people or materials.  As with the Factory/Facilities Module, this module will be multi-purpose.  It can be used as an emergency habitat, and for scientific or other operations that may require microgravity or vacuum conditions.  It is expected to be between 5 and 10 meters in diameter.

It will normally be rotated with the main module, but it will be desirable to stop its spin, in order to facilitate docking and to make best use of its windows for viewing and photography, and to conduct certain experiments.

 


Space Habitat Alpha

Space Habitat Alpha will consist of the Factory/Facilities Module, the Propulsion Module and the Cupola/Docking Module.

Lunar-equivalent (about 0.3 G) artificial gravity will be produced by spinning the habitat about its long axis.

This habitat will be a partially or fully self-sufficient space station, capable of accommodating up to 50 occupants.

It may be used as a mother ship for interplanetary exploration, as a space tourism destination, or for conducting science missions and technology demonstrations.

Ultimately, this habitat, specifically the Factory/Facilities module, will be used to manufacture materials for, assemble, and provide ongoing maintenance and support for Space Habitat Beta.  Alpha's components will be built on the ground, but Beta will be almost entirely constructed from space-based materials from the Moon or from asteroids.

 

 

Main Habitation Module

This is the area that will serve as the residence for the occupants of Space Habitat Beta. It will also include the main life-support systems, food production and recycling facilities.  It will normally be sealed off from the other sections by air locks.  This module will be rotated at about 3-4 RPM to produce artificial gravity.

Its diameter will be between 100 and 200 meters, depending on the spin rate required to produce 1G gravity.  The module's pressure vessel will be based on Vectran, which is similar to Kevlar, but a better choice for Space applications.  The module will have external and internal frames to provide rigidness and stability, and as attachment structures.

Radiation shielding may be provided by a layer of "space soil," derived from asteroid or lunar material.  This material will also provide a base for some farming activities, or for landscaping. 

 

Air Locks

The Air Locks are passages between modules, are sealed at both ends, and can be pressurized or depressurized.  They may also be used for storage or other operations.

 


Space Habitat Beta

Space Habitat Beta will consist of the Factory/Facilities Module, the Propulsion Module, the Habitation Module, the Cupola/Docking Module, and Airlocks A and B.

1G artificial gravity in the Habitation Module will be produced by spinning the habitat about it's long axis at 3 to 4 RPM.

The habitat will be an entirely self-sufficient space station and residence, capable of accommodating up to 500 occupants.

It may be used as a mother ship for interplanetary exploration, as a space tourism destination, or for conducting science missions.

Space Habitat Beta will be almost entirely manufactured and assembled in space using space-based materials from the Moon or from asteroids.  It will use Space Habitat Alpha's components with the addition of the Habitat Module and the Air Locks.  The Factory/Facilities Module will provide the materials for its construction.