What happens when....
they get struck by micro-meteorites? In space, no one can hear the noise of rapid deflation!
NASA has enlisted Bigelow Aerospace to build an inflatable module for the International Space Station. Bigelow BA 330 Behold, the proposed orbiting balloon thing Bigelow Aerospace (BA), founded by space baron Robert Bigelow in 1999, will get $17.8m to put together the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module - a blowup space …
Strangely enough, the inflatable spacestation design has had some actual scientist and engineer time expended upon it. Turns out that they actually thought about the micrometeorite issue too, demonstrating that they are at least as clever as your average commentard.
Two prototype inflatable modules have already been launched, and notably failed to pop instantly despite not having any repair crew on board. I believe that Bigelow Aerospace have at least two years of temperature, pressure and radiation telemetry from their Genesis 2 platform; I'm too lazy to find out if they have more, but they aren't just a company of marketers.
The issue of radiation protection was also raised below... exactly how much shielding do you guys suppose that the ISS is fitted with?
I seem to remember my old design lectuerer (whose dissertation had been on the Spitfire) talking about WW2 aircraft with canvas surfaces instead of aluminium. Apparently they suffered less damage from bullets, since they passed straight through instead of punching a big hole.
I would imagine that a micro-meteor would make a smaller hole in a canvas membrane than it would in a metal one, so giving the astronaut with the puncture-repair kit more time to respond.
(I appreciate that there no-doubt other factors I know nothing about)
I am pretty sure Bigalow actually brought the tech from NASA in the first place, it was intended for use originally on a Mars mission, then it was adapted for Space, and then the idea was cancelled, tech sold off (political reasons I believe)...
Then it was brought up and have been proven by Bigalow, I guess now its no longer an internal thing I guess its ok.
micrometeorites leave correspondingly small holes. Deflation is therefore slow, no?
Though the *real* way to use bubbles is to:
1) catch a convenient iron asteroid
2) make a big silver mylar mirror to focus sunlight on it
3) wait until it melts
4) poke some water into the middle and flash it to steam
5) hey presto, instant steel bubble.
But this is a nice start.
From what I understand and remember of the design, the walls of the inflatable structure are a multiple layer compartmentalised layout. The flexibility will absorb much of the impact of a small object, and the multiple layered walls are designed, similar to kevlar or passive reactive armour, to reduce and / or deflect the impact of any hit.
The general consensus I've heard is that they're just as safe as standard rigid structures in space, but have a far superior weight to volume ratio.
Current rigid space habitats are very susceptible to orbital hits and when an object the size of a small marble is travelling at 10-30k kph it really doesn't make much difference what the structure is made of, it's more important what the object is made of. To reduce the chance of serious damage there is usually a forward facing (orbital direction) lump of material to get in the way, often a thick part of something that was being sent up anyway. Small objects that can be vaporised, (ice, etc) can be effectively protected against using a multiple layer shield where the outer layer forces the object to vaporise, a gap or filling material slows down the resultant smaller object (droplets) and an inner layer absorbs the impact relatively unscathed.
"Current rigid space habitats are very susceptible to orbital hits and when an object the size of a small marble is travelling at 10-30k kph it really doesn't make much difference what the structure is made of"
Marble? I think you're looking at something often the size of shotgun pellets and smaller.
Make up an inflatable and push it along with some other science to some outboard planet. Part of the science would be to detect leaks and how they work. While the balloon might be large physically, its mass would (hopefully) be quite small, and since mass is the driving cost factor, it would be a cheap experiment. The next question for everyone is what shape this blow-up device would take. I'll leave it to others to speculate, but I understand there are LOTS of example of blow-ups here on earth.
Stunned by some of the more moronic comments here. Clue to commentators - when you make a comment, it's worth doing a minimum of 5s with Google before writing about the obvious (to you) deficiencies in a design. Chances are, since the people making the design have worked in the industry for some time, they do ACTUALLY KNOW MORE ABOUT IT THAT YOU DO.
So, with my 5s with Google, I found this reference about the Bigelow inflatable modules, and their micro meteor shielding. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BA_330.
You're welcome to that 5s.
James, I'm sorry to have to say this, but you have COMPLETELY missed the point of being a true commentard. There are several requirements before you can achieve this status
1) You should only read the first few paragraphs of the article.
2) Cross references or links to the original article should NEVER be read.
3) Never do your own research on the article in question.
4) You should immediately hit the reply button and say the first thing that comes into your head.
5) Don't use a spell chequer. If you can confuse "it's" and "its" even better.
6) Remember that you are the expert on the subject, whatever it is, and that all the other commentards (and the author of the article) are idiots.
7) Deride anyone who has a different opinion to yourself, since they obviously have no brain (see 6 above).
8) Try to use any of the phrases "sheeple", "fanbois", "fandroids" at least once (if you can get all three in so much the better).
Your comment failed on a large number of these points although I congratulate you on the capitals.
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