Orpheus [Was: Re: SPACE: Why so much EVA on ISS?]

From: Anders Sandberg (asa@nada.kth.se)
Date: Sun Mar 18 2001 - 01:45:30 MST

While I'm still at it, maybe you could tell me if there are any
obvious holes in the following scenario:

Construct a spacecraft using modules in LEO. It will consist of a
truss structure, onto which habitat modules, cargo and fuel tanks are
attached. See http://www.nada.kth.se/~asa/Game/Dragons2/eurydike2.jpg
for a sketch. The big panels are phased array antennas rather than
solar collectors. The engine is a NERVA-style nuclear thermal engine,
and there is also a conventional chemical engine.

The spacecraft is sent to 3361 Orpheus. During the flight further
launches of solar sail slow cargo transports are done from Earth. Work
on constructing a second craft is begun.

Upon arrival, the craft divides into two. The nuclear reactor part,
cargo and habitat modules land on Orpheus, becoming a mining base,
while the (nearly empty) fuel tanks and an auxillary propulsion system
remain in orbit as a heavy cargo transport.

The mining base surveys the asteroid, covers the habitats with
regolith for radiation protection and sets up water mining and
electrolysis production of hydrogen and oxygen. The new fuel is stored
in the cargo craft. Extra supplies and equipment arrive on solar

The unmanned cargo craft leaves for Earth, doing an aerobraking
maneouver to deliver propellant to LEO where it is used to fuel the
second colony craft that has been built in the meantime, and the
excess is sold to make a profit.

The second craft goes to Orpheus, switching crews and adding further
supplies while being refuelled, eventually going back to Earth with
the first crew and more propellant. On Orpheus mining is extended to
production of other supplies such as metal and biosphere materials.

Any obvious flaws?

The crew will have to spend a long time in microgravity; I have been
toying with the idea of rotating the ship but I'm not sure it would be
worth it - having access to the full 3D volume of thw habitat section
rather than living in 2+1 dimensions might offset the feeling of being
cramped, and the material requirements will likely be less stringent
if the ship is non-rotating.

The business plan is rather long-range and mainly interested in
building the industrial infrastructure needed for large scale habitat
production (of which there is a predicted tremendous jump in demand
within 20 years of the start of the operation, due to external

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!
asa@nada.kth.se                            http://www.nada.kth.se/~asa/
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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