June 20, 2017

Cool Site , Cool Ship

A few days ago we posted some links to cool sites dealing with space and futurism. Now, one of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Stoic Space Babes points us to one we missed:

Fragomatic does cgi animations of space related topics including actual design studies by NASA. Here, he has two videos on Nautilus-X, a design study we reported on back in 2011 and which has been the focus of some renewed interest over the last eight months. 

There's a good deal more stuff in the same vein at his site.

Regarding Nautilus-X, it made waves when proposed, not only because of its features (it is very scaleable, has artificial gravity and impressive passive as well as active radiation shielding) but also because of its predicted low cost, far less than that of the Orion program. This is due to the fact that the ship is not intended for reentry, many of the components are off the shelf (or extrapolations of off the shelf) equipment and because the designers focused on the habitation, logistics and payload and deemed propulsion someone else's problem. The design is essentially a space station with an adapter/shock-absorber module intended to interface with any of several NASA propulsion modules, both existing and in development. The VASIMR module currently under development is the preferred system, but several ion or even chemical propulsion systems like the Centaur could be used. 

I tracked down a recording of the presentation to NASA by the designer. His presentation begins at about the 26 minute mark and follows this powerpoint. He explains the design philosophy as being developed from that for the Lunar Excursion Module and his experience with NRO spy satellites. Intriguingly, he explains the latter as is the design origin of the distinctive bow section, with its folding out air lock and bridge. The centrifuge is an extrapolation of an existing spin-stabalization system used on a few satellites.  It is 60 feet across and capable of producing 1-g at a tad under 10RPM. However, that's a bit high for comfort so lower speeds and gravities are expected to be used.

Note that the first 25 minutes of the presentation concern an overview of cis-lunar infrastructure ideas of which the Nautilus-X is only one component. 

The response to the Nautilus-X proposal in the recording is quite enthusiastic. The engineers seem really impressed, not only by the logic of the design, but by the attention to cost, minimizing design risk and extensive detail work already done.. The design is remarked upon as being particularly well thought out and economical. There is some discussion of the centrifuge and the discussion goes into detail regarding how the half scale prototype would be integrated into the ISS and the way the system is designed to  use water pumps to compensate for asymetrical loading due to crewmembers moving around. 

The proposed centrifuge test is particularly important. We don't have any idea what the minimum gravity to avoid health issues is. It might well be 1g. We probably want to find that out before people start settling Mars. 

This is the sort of thing NASA needs to be doing more of. 

'Stoic Space Babe" is by Takeshi Fujisawa , nicked from the box-art of a Hasegawa kit. You can buy his stuff here

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:50 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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