Keith Taggart, Ph.D. and Steven Dam, Ph.D., ESEP
We have used the SPEC Innovations Innoslate systems engineering and project management tool to do preliminary systems engineering and to document two conceptual designs for commercial space stations with rotational gravity. We propose that either or both of these designs could be built in the next five to ten years at a fraction of the cost of the International Space Station using currently available or soon to be available launch capabilities. These designs can be built from a few types of modules constructed on the ground, lifted into low earth orbit, and assembled in space using either manned or teleoperated assemblers. These stations could support space tourism, space based manufacturing, space based power assembly and testing, asteroid exploration, research for radiation mitigation techniques, research in long term effects of low gravity (not micro gravity) environment, low gravity research in general, lunar exploration and resource exploitation, satellite repair, and garbage collection. They would serve as real life test beds of construction techniques for future, larger structures in earth orbit and development of transportation vehicles and traffic control for cislunar space leading eventually to stations in lunar orbit. A robust cislunar infrastructure is necessary if we are to support regular deep space manned missions including to asteroids, Mars and beyond. These initial space stations are the first steps in developing a cislunar infrastructure, but must be built so as to provide a reasonable return on investment. The biggest risks in undertaking such an effort are trash in low earth orbit, radiation protection for inhabitants and visitors, and convincing investors not only of the short term returns but that building a space based economy makes financial sense. We look at these and some operations issues in order to propose a set of next steps toward building and operating such a commercial space station.