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In space construction

If humans are to colonize space, we will need large, human-rated structures to live in. It makes no sense to build an entire orbiting colony out of tin cans launched from Earth. Let's discuss some ideas for in-space construction to pave the way for human colonization of space!
Suzana Bianco
Space Architect


Proof of reusable technologies value for space launch is being delivered now. How do we bring real innovation to the front in the face of huge development costs? Our very small venture is getting favorable traffic online with a "paper airplane", but has a big leap to justify funding. Our journey is logged on Wordpress along with a list of solutions in need of evaluation. In aerospace that often means expensive software and employee benefits. New opportunities are coming with collaboration like this group offers. Horizontal launch needs to reunite aero and space as aeronautical analysis is needed. Software and engineers can deliver a valid proposal even before hardware is built. That is the foundation for funding. Can we fill in the blanks to build an affordable path to low earth orbit? We are exploring ideas now: HOWEVER: We DO have an issue with the U.S. State Department: our space related work must be with United States citizens only, due to ITARS.
David I Luther
Not retiring; not too shy

The Keck Report: Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study

The "Keck Report," the product of a study by the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) at CalTech/JPL in Pasadena, California constitutes a foundation stone astronautical engineering result for the asteroid exploration, mining, and science communities. What I think most important about this report is not so much the conclusions about whether retrieving an asteroid from solar orbit and placing it in lunar or Earth orbit is feasible (read it to find out for yourself) but it addresses the thorny issues around flying to an asteroid. The fundamental challenge is that all the asteroids are moving all the time, often faster than the Earth, and their orbits vary wildly out of the ecliptic plane in which the Earth orbits the Sun. What this differential means is that When you go determines where you can go. You can see many examples of this principle in the JPL Small Body Database Browser. [The JPL-SBB was originally called the Small Body Browser. However, the scurillous "word on the street" is that the bureaucrats thought that sounded too much like a porn site, so they changed the name to Small Body Database Browser, so there should be no misconception. So, now it must be "data porn:" All those ones and zeros!]
20171101.marc m. cohen passport photo
Marc M. Cohen
Founder of Space Architecture as a Discipline

Modular "Universally" Adaptable Support Craft

As a tentative proposal for a near- to mid- term project, I suggest the development of a Modular Universally Adaptable Support Craft. This would be composed of a "plug-in" command/control module, attached to a modular support frame. Other modular components would be attached as necessary for a given mission. Conceptually, this would be similar to the "Sky Crane" helicopter (or, the fictional "Eagle Transport" from Space:1999); except that the basic structure would only include the frame with a detachable capsul. As with the "Sky Crane", functional modules (either standardised or irregular) could be attached to the frame, possibly docked to the capsul (as extended habitational space). An approriate propulsion system would then be attached, along with required provisions and equipment to operate that propulsion system (power, fuel, propellant, etc). The frame can be extended as necessary, both lengthwise and laterally. All components would be structured around a standardised array of connector points. The benefit of this adaptable system would be that the structure could then be near-optimised for any given mission, and then quickly reconfigured for the next mission. With the adaptable structure, selected components could support any "flight" regime, whether aeronautic, astronautic, oceanic, terrestrial, or off-world (etc). The propulsion system would be selected for the appropriate regime, components would be selected for the mission, numbers and types of tanks (whether for propellant or crew provisions, etc) would be selected according to the required mission endurance parametres. On the one hand, this means that you would not have to settle with a compromised configuration that is not particularly ideal for any mission. On the other hand, you would not have to have a completely different craft for every mission type. While you would be carrying extra mass (on the host operator) that is not required for certain missions, many of the components would be common to most, if not all missions (notably, the command module and basic support frame). Many elements would normally be distributed amongst a "fleet" of craft that would be able to operate simultaneously; or, the components could be "stripped" from some craft in order to configure a single craft for a mission requiring greater endurance. These craft would be intended to perform a number of functions, within and/or across a number of missions. These would include transport (vessel to vessel, same body orbit to orbit, different body orbit to orbit, surface to orbit, etc), exploration, operational support (for mining, construction, etc), inspection, training, etc. For the near term, the craft would be used for surface and oceanic operations. This would allow for proof-of-concept development and testing; as well as simultaneous practical (real-world) infrastructural development, through actual mission operations. Once established, these would be made available to other agencies and organisations, including terrestrial, aeronautic, and space-targeted. Eventually, the craft would be used for our own space-based operations. While I already have the basic concept figured out, and can produce a CAD render myself, I could use the help of an actual architect, a qualified engineer, and any other interested parties who would be willing to do some troubleshooting, brainstorming, and "reality-checking". The concept is based on standardised modular construction. I envision five basic categories of component modules (although actual modules might belong to multiple categories): Command (or Control)- responsible for the integration and coordination of the overall collection of modules, or any subgroup; Operations- modules responsible for specific or general mission functions, conducting actual "manipulations" (these are the "arms & legs" of the craft); Intelligence- modules responsible for the collection and analysis of information (these are essentially the "eyes & ears" of the craft); Systems- responsible or assuring the actual operability of the craft, including propulsion units, "flight" actuators, life support / environmental control equipment, computer systems, etc (this essentially includes all integrated hardware, as well as maintenance support activity); Services- responsible for the storage and distribution of provisions for the craft (propellant, fuel, etc), passengers & crew (atmosphere supply, nutrients, etc, and mission support (ammunitions/ordnance, probes, etc) --(this includes, but is not necessarily limited to, all "expendables", as well as support activity).
Concepts Development, Organisation, Operations Specialist