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Inflatable Private Space Station Launched 233

Anonymous_Space_Ranger writes "CNN is reporting that the first steps to have a private space station are underway in Russia. While today's launch is unmanned, it is designed to orbit the planet for 5 years while the durability of the design is tested and future flights are planned around it." From the article: "[Robert] Bigelow envisions building a private orbiting space complex by 2015 that would be made up of several expandable Genesis-like modules linked together and could be used as a hotel, or perhaps a science lab or college. He has committed $500 million toward the project."
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Inflatable Private Space Station Launched

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  • Inflatable? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:21PM (#15707539) Homepage

    With ovre 4 million pounds of space junk flying around at speeds up to 17,500... I for one would NOT want to be in an inflatable structure. Wow! []
  • Inflatable != weak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:28PM (#15707591) Homepage Journal
    Look at the Zodiac boats used as landing craft by the Navy SEALS. They are inflatable, but they are anything but weak. They are designed to operate in enviroments that we can only dream of and they survive. I am interested in following how this test project survives over the next five years. I am not entirely convinved that it will work (nothing in space exploration or habitation is ever 100%) but I would not be so quick to write it off as a sure failure.
  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:33PM (#15707623)
    On the other hand, drinking and having sex in 0 G does sound fun.

    You underestimate the value of gravity when it comes to puking those drinks back up.

  • Re:Inflatable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:40PM (#15707690) Homepage
    I doubt even the space shuttle would protect you from anything as small as a bolt hitting it. A number of years ago a single paint fleck hit the windshield of the Shuttle and took out a large pit in the glass. Something even as large as a bolt would be catastropic. There's a lot of space junk up their, but most of it is trackable and can be steered away from in plenty of time.

    With something inflatable, thin walls might be an advantage for small untrackable space-junk. It'd likely pass right through the whole structure and impart little energy to it (doing little damage). There'd be holes of course, but with the proper material that wouldn't rip the holes would be small and repairable.
  • Re:This just in! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikeee ( 137160 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:55PM (#15707828)
    the potential for abuse seems pretty severe.... ...because, you know, governments never abuse anything.
  • by fizzup ( 788545 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @04:02PM (#15707892)
    You are correct that the magnitude of the rotation vector is the same for any two circular orbits of the same diameter, however there are two things that you have not considered:

    1) Orbits are elliptical, so orbiters can collide at non-zero relative speeds.

    2) The direction of the rotation vector need not be the same between any two orbits. One orbit may be pole-to-pole, while another may track the equator. Or one may be a "left-hand" orbit around the equator, while another may be a "right-hand" orbit. The second case is the worst: the space junk could hit the station at a relative speed of twice the orbital speed of the station.

    All the comments on this post about designing the station to withstand the impact of any untracked space junk still applies, though.
  • Re:Inflatable? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @05:50PM (#15708736) Homepage

    Well, one problem here... when you make something pass through the entire structure, in space there's a little problem with that: explosive decompression. Now that you've introduced a hole or two in your structure, all that pressurized stuff in the structure wants to get out of the structure, and spread far, far apart.

    It all depends on how big the hole is, and how the material you're working with behaves. Pop a rubber balloon with a tiny hole and it explodes. Pop a rubber inflatable raft however, and the air just leaks out slowly.

    I'm sure you could make a material that has less of a tendency to tear, and is also lightweight and inflatable.

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings