NASA Will Make SpaceX Starship into Space Stations

NASA Will Make SpaceX Starship into Space Stations

NASA will partner with SpaceX to make Starship space stations. This is part of NASA partnering with seven U.S. companies to make advanced space capabilities. SpaceX is collaborating with NASA on an integrated low Earth orbit architecture to provide a growing portfolio of technology with near-term Dragon evolution and concurrent Starship development. This architecture includes Starship as a transportation and in-space low-Earth orbit destination element supported by Super Heavy, Dragon, and Starlink, and constituent capabilities including crew and cargo transportation, communications, and operational and ground support.

Making Giant Space Stations Using SpaceX Starships

Each Starship has more than the volume of the International Space Station. They are also similar in size to the external fuel tank of the old Space Shuttle. There were many space station proposals based upon the external fuel tank of the Space Station. It will be easier to build with SpaceX Starships. The steel construction the SpaceX Starship makes them easy to weld, cut and modify. The SpaceX Starships will start being able to support astronauts.

Space radiation computations suggest that orbits below about 500 km and close to the equator have radiation levels so low that little or no radiation shielding is required.

A giant wheel of SpaceX Starships could rotate for the equivalent of one gravity and could be placed where they could easily have safe radiation levels. Having a large volume for space stations make it easy to stack supplies around the hull to boost radiation protection. Using up one meter thick space for shielding would use up all of the space of a small capsule but a 900 cubic meter volume would still have 90% of the interior space after stacking supplies for one meter shielding.

Fifty Starships at $20 million each would still only be $1 billion. There would be room for 350 people based upon International Space Station standards. The ISS was designed to hold seven people. Each Starship could hold the same and could surge up to 450. The ISS had a record of nine people during a handover in 2009. The ISS cost about $100 billion while a giant Starship station with 100 times the volume would cost about $2 billion.

Other NASA Projects

Blue Origin is collaborating with NASA to develop integrated commercial space transportation capability that ensures safe, affordable, and high-frequency US access to orbit for crew and other missions.

Northrop Grumman is collaborating with NASA on the company’s Persistent Platform to provide autonomous and robotic capabilities for commercial science research and manufacturing capabilities in low Earth orbit.

Sierra Space is collaborating with NASA for the development of the company’s commercial low Earth orbit ecosystem, including next-generation space transportation, in-space infrastructure, and expandable and tailorable space facilities providing a human presence in low Earth orbit.

ThinkOrbital is collaborating with NASA on the development of ThinkPlatforms and CONTESA (Construction Technologies for Space Applications). ThinkPlatforms are self-assembling, single-launch, large-scale orbital platforms that facilitate a wide array of applications in low Earth orbit, including in-space research, manufacturing, and astronaut missions. CONTESA features welding, cutting, inspection, and additive manufacturing technologies, and aids in large-scale in-space fabrication.

Vast is collaborating with NASA on technologies and operations required for its microgravity and artificial gravity stations. This includes the Haven-1 commercial destination, which will provide a microgravity environment for crew, research, and in-space manufacturing, and the first crewed mission, called Vast-1, to the platform. Development activities for larger space station modules will also take place under the Space Act Agreement.

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