Feb 292016

I recall seeing these same two illustrations in a number of books & magazines back when I was a horrible little brat. But I’ve never, to my knowledge, come across any diagrams or data or even references to suggest that this was a serious effort. It dates from the late 1960’s or maybe very early 1970s. Any help?


 Posted by at 11:45 am
  • sferrin

    Imagine if each of those capsules were a Shuttle external tank. . .

    • mzungu

      We did,…Turns out You’ll need an army of Space Men to assemble everything in orbit. that gets expensive very soon.

      • sferrin

        I doubt there’s a way to assemble stuff in orbit without space. . ..I wonder if developing a remote controlled waldo -with the operator on earth and the waldo in LEO- would be worth the effort.

        • Peter Hanely

          I’m thinking an spider assembler bot. 6 legs with electro-adhesion feet to move around and position parts, 2 with welders or other assembly tools.

  • vilhelm_s

    Wow, that’s pretty big. 🙂 I count about 200 modules, each of which seems bigger than e.g. Skylab (68 tonnes). According to space.stackexchange, the total mass sent into orbit over all history is about 10,500 tonnes.

    • publiusr

      They might be launched wet stage–but then–you’d still need to fit them out.

  • Bob

    How would they get this THING into orbit? And what are all the people who would live in the thing do when they got there? And what enormous fraction of GNP would be wasted on all this?

    • James

      Well considering the cost I can find of the price of a BA 2100 which is 500mil and we would need 400 of those based off of vilhelms count then… lets see,

      Cost for modules alone- Say a mass production rate gets us to 1/5 of the cost the unit now I got 40,000,000,000 (bad at math so don’t take that for granted) Or roughly a little less than half the cost of the entire ISS. Or the likely projected cost of the SLS out to 2030 with all the development stages, launches between then.

      Say each launch is on a Falcon X capable of lifting 2 module to orbit. (though if Falcon X is going to be a MCT it’s supposed to get 300mt to LEO I think is the quote. So it could carry more than that) Lets say because of the economics of reuse and building so many we get everything down to 50 mil per launch gives us another 10 billion so.

      So just with that we get just those 400 BA 2100 to orbit for around half the price of the entire ISS.

      Mass of 28,000 tons.
      31,600,000 cubic ft of pressurized space. Compared to the 32,000 cubic ft of the ISS.

      Seems a bargain from that pov then doesn’t it?

  • Ed

    National Geographics 1973 Conquest of Space. Reverse image search says Lockheed in the 1970s.


    • Scottlowther

      Yup, that’s where I scanned this from.

  • Knigh26

    Pretty cool concept and wouldn’t be insanely hard to build. A modernized take on it with ISS modules would be a plausible design, but would require a ton of launches to see built. Obviously the central hub would go up first, then a number of modules extending out with support structure. After that it would be a relatively “simple” matter to just continue launching modules and connecting hubs up to complete the torus. That train/walking track would be the biggest hurdle, but that probably wouldn’t get built into the innermost ring anyway, and would be built later as part of the second ring as by that point you would have a large enough crew in orbit to actually build it 24/7.
    Sadly any concept like this is pretty far off, but it would also make a great staging post to build further a field missions like ones to Mars and beyond.

  • Rick

    I was thinking that the Bigelow Aerospace inflatable enclosures would be a good fit for this type of design.

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