|xGRF Concept Graphic|
- Because such a station could be spun at various rates, multiple G-Loads are possible.
- Because the station could be despun quickly, the xGRF station is easier to dock with.
- Because the station can be despun and respun at a low energy cost, the station is cheaper to operate.
So my idea…
- Reduce microgravity physiological impacts on astronauts in orbit.
Here are the details:
- Transfer time between stations should take no more than two hours
- Astronaut time on xGRF equals 10 hours per day
- Astronaut time on ISS equals 10 hours per day
- Three Astronaut shifts of four astronauts per shift
- Increase ISS crew size from six to eight at any given time (assuming life support could handle 8 on ISS)
- Allow around-the-clock work on the ISS – including constant experiment monitoring if needed
- Repurpose current ISS sleeping, exercise, & personal spaces into science and experiment space
- Productive Astronaut hours per day on ISS could increase by 100% without any new modules added to the station itself (from 60 productive hours per day with a crew of six to 120 productive hours per day with shift work outlined below)
Table 1 below highlights the productivity of three shifts of four astronauts transferring between ISS and xGRF daily:
Table 2 below highlights the current productivity (note, exercise and sleep times are my estimates only):
- The political challenges to be allowed to dock with the ISS three times per day are enormous (perhaps too enormous)
- The logistics of frequent dockings are significant. Note these first two challenges are relevant to my last post about the last mile problem for mico-cargo delivery to these stations. If today’s post highlights how we are struggling to solve frequent deliveries for macro-cargo, how pessimistic should we be regarding micro-cargo deliveries noted in my last post?
- Allowing a spinning station so close to the ISS (or any orbital station) creates security challenges that must to addressed. There is always a chance the two stations will collide. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? How can the risks be mitigated?
- Is two hours really enough time to transfer between stations? If not, does the loss of productivity from longer “commutes” (three hours, four hours?) degrade the idea to the point of being unexecutable?
As with most tantalizing space business concepts, this one falls into the category of, “If I only had a billion dollars…” I do like Jon Goff’s idea of developing a xGRF as a NASA Flagship Technology Demonstrator. Regardless, once commercial station operators have achieved a few more milestones, this concept may be worth a deeper look – adding productivity to our astronauts in orbit and more importantly, improving the quality of life of those working off-world.