I'd like to continue our discussion about space contruction ( this post: https://spacedecentral.net/forum/posts/in-space-construction ) but kind of leaning towards the actual methods of constructing large space structures.
But first, let's understand why I think large monolithic structures (structures making up one large volume) might be better than a large network of smaller modules for space stations of larger population. These are my own observations from studying the ISS and Mir, feel free to disagree and challenge them.
1) Each module is likely launched by itself, to make the best use of the payload shroud. More modules = more launches = more launch costs
2) Modules connect to each other through berths or docks. Each connection is a possible (and likely) leakage point.
3) The connections are also what hold modules together, forming a segmented structure with multiple failure points.
4) Smaller modules need a clear core for passage, or need to be long enough to have transition areas for circulation to go from central (bulkheads) to lateral (body of module). This leaves limited space to be used for activities. It is likely that public circulation will happen in the middle of someone's workstation!
5) A network of modules means a person will have to go through multiple modules (disturbing multiple activities) to get from one point to the other.
6) Large monolithic structures have fewer connections (thus fewer leak and failures).
7) Within a large monolithic structure, spaces can be divided in many different ways, with clear distinctions of public/private spaces.Freedom of design!
But of course there are three MAJOR problems with large monolithic structures:
a) How do we build it and make it a pressure vessel?
b) How do we deal with depressurization emergencies?
c) How do we get enough air to fill it up?
So I choose to ignore problem b for now and leave problem c to the life support systems engineers :p
How do we deal with problem a?
I have one idea, I'll post it next. But I would like to hear other ideas, and discuss the possibilities. Shall we?