It’s the year 2025 – the ISS is coming to the end of science operations. No successor station has been established so far. The journey to Mars is a vision of the future. To make it happen, the technology of in-situ resource utilization must be addressed primarily. In addition to enabling sustainable deep space missions, ISRU on the Moon shall be used to re-supply current spacecraft and demonstrate new technology for upcoming Mars missions. Hence the SSDW 2016 investigated the opportunities of on-orbit manufacturing and ressource processing on board a space station in cis-lunar space.
The SSDW started with a SpaceUp unconference at the IRS. Amongst the 100 participants were leading experts from ESA and DLR, SSDW candidates, local students and professionals from Stuttgart and visitors from all over Germany. The workshop and the SpaceUp would not have been possible without the commitment of individuals and the support from sponsors. Therefore, the Institute of Space Systems would like to thank Airbus Defense and Space, Astos Solutions, OHB, the ISS Crew, HE Space, TESAT Spacecom and ThalesAlenia Space.
Again, two competing teams developed concepts for the next space station. The international and interdisciplinary aspect of the workshop was adressed again with 40 participating students and young professionals from all over the world with diverse backgrounds in engineering, biology and economics. For the first time in the history of the SSDW, two inner architecture students enriched the concepts with a new perspective on the design of a human-rated platform in space.
Team Blue designed a space station called “ARKADIKO”, named after the oldest arch bridge in Peloponnese, Greece, still in existence and use, symbolizing the connecting function of the station between Earth and the Moon as well as between the international community and public-private partnerships. The station in envisioned to be operated at two stages, a basic configuration for early begin of utilization and a later attached science enlargement, providing science and/or deep-space support capabilities. The fully assembled station will be roughly 44m x 32m with a total mass of 131 tons including a crew module, a node, an airlock and the technology and research module. The estimated lifetime of the station is 15 years, starting from 2035, although further expansion of the station and its lifetime are feasible according to later customer needs. The station will not permanently be manned but operated mostly autonomous. A crew of three astronauts will be two weeks on board the station every three month for maintenance and servicing.
Team Red envisioned the “Prometheus Program”, a station which will be assembled and operated in three phases. Phase 1 from 2025 to 2030 serves as the establishment of a long term, manned cis-lunar habitat utilizing ISS expertize and technology. During this stage, the station will consist of a core module, a fully rotatable power and cooling truss, the attitude control module and an airlock. In phase 2 (2031-2033), the platform will utilize the already available ISRU material in order to validate the self-sustainability and orbital waypoint concept. For this phase, a structural truss, an orbital workshop, a cargo module and an external science platform will be launched and added to the station. During the third phase (2034-2039), the IRSU on the lunar surface will be scaled, working towards a sustainable cis-lunar waypoint which will enable deep space exploration. The fully assembled station will have a mass of approximately 435 tons. While during the first stage, the station will only partly be crewed, beginning with phase 2, a crew cycle analogue to the ISS crew scheme is planned, leaving two astronauts on board on the station at all time, while during hand over phases up to four astronauts will be accommodated on the platform.
Comparing both design approaches, one can clearly see, that Team Blue pursued a minimalistic approach, establishing a small station that satisfies all requirements and can be adapted expanded according to any future needs. In contrast to that, Team Red chose to expand the station themselves in order to give the customer in phase three a fully assembled space station designed for on-orbit manufacturing, ISRU science and to serve as a deep space mission waypoint.