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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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  • This just in! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gentimjs ( 930934 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:27PM (#15707580) Journal
    This just in! British secret agent lauches into orbit on an emergency launch of china's Shenzou space vehicle on a joint mission to combat the orbital battlestation of new supervillian!
    On a slightly more serious note, am I the only one who is weary of the "private" exploration of space, where the projects are controlled by individuals/companies rather than by the people as a whole? I mean, yeah its great for scientific advancment and all.. but the potential for abuse seems pretty severe....
  • Re:Inflatable? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by harrkev ( 623093 ) <> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:49PM (#15707775) Homepage
    Well, there was a case that I remember where a chip of paint in orbit gouged out a good-sized dent in the space shuttle window. In this case, the window was manly enough to stop a paint chip.

    An inflatable, on the other hand, has to be flexible in order to allow it to inflate. That seems to imply that something like a paint chip might just well zip right through a wall or two.

    What I have always thought was a good idea (but I am not a rocket scientist) is to use some type of expanding foam to fill the inflatable. It would be heavier than air, but a lot more durable. You can get cans of this stuff for a few dollars from your local hardware store, and one can will expand it volume probably 50X. Once the stuff dries, it is rigid. Plus, you could use thinner baloons, as the foam would provide the durability. I wonder how well it would work in space...
  • Re:Inflatable? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shotfeel ( 235240 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @04:09PM (#15707940)
    An inflatable, on the other hand, has to be flexible in order to allow it to inflate. That seems to imply that something like a paint chip might just well zip right through a wall or two.

    That depends on how much "give" there is. With the right kind of cushioning effect to absorb the energy, it might actually be pretty durable.
  • by dominux ( 731134 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @04:29PM (#15708103) Homepage
    a small bit of junk will go straight through the wall, this creates a hole, and a presure imbalance. The next layer in will be rapidly sucked towards the hole, but because the imact is unlikely to be exactly normal (90 degrees) to the surface the hole made in the inner layer won't line up with the hole in the outer layer, so it will make a seal. You could probably use the pressure imbalance to hold them together or have some magic glue on the inner walls. They can have lots of layers too. I imagine the walls could be a cellular foam like structure, maybe 10cm thick. Inflating the walls is also done by exploiting the pressure imbalance, each cell basically acting as a valve. The walls don't have to be inflated to a higher pressure than the internal pressure, from the inside they would feel spongy and soft, they would kind of self inflate like those camping mattresses.

What this country needs is a good five cent nickel.