Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mini Space Shuttle

Mini Shuttle smaller than the X37
Overall design with cargo bay
Big enough to ferry an astronaut and supplies, small enough for space hoisting by private industry...

We're not sure why the electric machine Big Brain wants one of these. Perhaps it's to carry up a space telescope and parts, to study new machines in space, to assemble something, help save the Earth, rescue an astronaut, act as a life boat for the ISS Space Station, or make trips to the Moon.

The illustrative design is originally based on the X-37 from NASA and the recent X-37b from the USA Air Force. While the X37b is secretive, the proposed mini shuttle would operate for the Big Brain directive. The proposed MS would be substantially smaller than depicted here.

Of course the Experiment bay would be outfitted with astronaut seating, the control panel would be designed for a pilot, and supplies would stow under the seating.

Reentry with fire resistant fabric
The craft would have gliding capabilities during reentry and landing. The Mini Shuttle MS could visit space by riding in the cargo bay of larger rockets and return under its own capability.

Suggestions for enhancing the mini space shuttle craft include solar panels for extended stays in
Docking with the Space Station
space, small size for fit into rocket nose cone, light weight for minimal launch cost, hatch and payload bay doors for space walks/ mini satellite deployments/ observations with a space telescope and storage for extended stays in space (food, water, toilet packaging and ejection system) and air
Equipped for passengers
re-pressurization system for visiting and docking with other spacecraft, space stations, and space hotels.

Deploying solar panels
One design suggestion for the reusable space craft is a heat resistant replaceable fabric for fiery reentries into the Earth's atmosphere. Also the craft could orbit the Moon, observe through telescopes, and deploy tiny satellites and landers to the surface. The MS could also leave behind mini orbiters with capability of telescopes, radio transponders and relay stations.

Another design is for rescue. Maneuvering thrusters enable the craft to go to retrieve an astronaut flung out into space
One pilot
from the space station or other ship or retrieve an astronaut from an error in a space walk. In case of emergency, an astronaut from the space station could space walk to the mini shuttle and return to the Earth. The two passenger seats collapse flat to carry one injured or sick person. The craft could hold three, one of which is the pilot.

It's also determined the craft space could be configured the same size as a small Japanese or Chinese apartment with all spartan yet efficient amenities for longer stays living in space. The craft could also conduct limited space tours of orbital Earth and the Moon, plus offer spectacular sky views in space for not only tourism but scientific research.

Astronaut EVA out of the mini shuttle

Photo Credits: NASA,
iTunes APP Astronaut Spacewalk by Jorge Hernandez

Dream Chaser concept
Is the mini shuttle already built in the form of dream chaser? Read more at the links.




It's possible to send up one astronaut specifically as a systems specialist to repair space equipment when a mini space shuttle is in operation. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio is shown space walking outside the ISS International Space Station. Credit: NASA
"Dream Chaser – which is a reusable lifting body vehicle based on the form of NASA Langley’s HL-20 spaceplane concept from the 1980s – can land on a conventional runway, unlike all of its capsule-based competitors. The plan is for Dream Chaser to land at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at KSC." NASA

The Dream Chaser is a crewed suborbital and orbital[7] vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing (VTHL) lifting-body spaceplane being developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems. The Dream Chaser is designed to carry up to seven people to and from low Earth orbit. The vehicle would launch vertically on an Atlas V rocket and land horizontally on conventional runways. Wikipedia