An illustration of the Ixion module, an higher stage left in orbit and refitted as an area station module, being connected to the ISS. Credit score: NanoRacks
HOUSTON — A five-month research supported by NASA has concluded that it’s technically possible to transform a launch car higher stage right into a habitat module that could possibly be used on the Worldwide Area Station or future industrial area station.
Jeffrey Manber, chief government of NanoRacks, mentioned the outcomes of the research, a part of NASA’s Subsequent Area Applied sciences for Exploration Partnerships 2 (NextSTEP-2) effort, in panel discussions Dec. 6 on the SpaceCom Expo right here.
The idea, referred to as Ixion, includes taking an Atlas 5 higher stage left in low Earth orbit after a launch and refitting it with life assist and different programs wanted to assist a crew. That transformed module might then be connected to the ISS or be used as a part of a standalone industrial area station.
The thought of changing an higher stage into an area station module will not be a brand new one. Manber famous that, half a century in the past, NASA studied the so-called “moist workshop” method as one method for what would turn out to be the Skylab area station, however concluded it was too troublesome.
Technological enhancements have modified that evaluation. “We’re now more and more assured that we will present NASA that this second stage may be repurposed each utilizing crew and even, superb to me, doing it robotically,” Manber stated.
Manber stated later that NanoRacks has checked out each the Centaur higher stage presently utilized by the Atlas 5 in addition to the Superior Cryogenic Advanced Stage (ACES), a brand new higher stage underneath growth by United Launch Alliance to be used on its next-generation Vulcan rocket. ULA is likely one of the firms partnered with NanoRacks on the Ixion research, together with Area Techniques Loral and area tourism firm Area Adventures.
Ought to such a module finally be constructed and flown on the ISS or a industrial station, Manber stated there’s all kinds of potential makes use of for it. They vary from area tourism to on-orbit manufacturing. There are “a number of reliable client non-traditional prospects which have curiosity in utilizing a industrial platform,” he stated, stating these potential customers have been underneath non-disclosure agreements.
“For us, it’s to now envision how we will make this sustainable,” he stated. “We’re now taking a look at how we will do that in a industrial method. One of many clues is that one in every of our companions is Area Adventures.”
Nonetheless, he cautioned that, at this early stage, it’s not clear what purposes for such a module will develop, and to what dimension. “We don’t precisely but know” what these makes use of can be, he stated, requiring a “leap of religion” of a point that industrial modules will serve the wants of the market.
Manber didn’t focus on what the speedy subsequent steps for the Ixion module idea have been. “We’ll have some extra bulletins within the coming months on what we’re going to be doing with this industrial module,” he stated.
Study validates NanoRacks concept for commercial space station module was last modified: December 17th, 2017 by