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Concept art for an orbital LH2 propellant depot designed for my Orion's Arm future history setting.
Orbital propellant depots play a key role in my Orion’s Arm future history setting —and in reality they would be key pieces of orbital infrastructure for any extensive in-space venture, such as asteroid mining or a serious effort to colonize Mars. In my future history such depots are established early during the period of Martian colonization to support orbital infrastructure building and asteroid mining, and later are constructed at Callisto in Jupiter orbit, and later at Titan in Saturn orbit, as part of the infrastructure in support of the Mars terraforming program. By the advent of the System States Era of my future history, with populations climbing into the millions among the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, industrial scale depots for hydrogen, oxygen, and water orbit several moons in the Jupiter and Saturn systems. Depots supplying nitrogen, ethane, and methane, along with organic compounds for industrial use, orbit Titan.
Dimensions: Main Structural Truss: 1500’. LH2 Tanks: 300’ diameter.
Crew Habitat is a non-rotational zero-g environment. The three or four member crew would stand on-duty in rotating shifts, perhaps two or three weeks, cycling back to a full one-g space colony habitat between shifts.
Maintenance: The rig would be furnished with two one-man EVA pods for exterior maintenance and near-environ orbital debris mitigation.
The commodity housed in your tanks is valuable, you do not want anything puncturing your tanks, let alone your hab. Orbital debris mitigation would be a serious matter in the kind of culture I am depicting, every station, platform, and large scale habitat would expend significant effort to manage it.
Advanced nuclear reactor derived from the SNAP10A design. Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rockets site has a good detailed page on nuclear reactors for in-space power systems application, here. Note the SNAP10A on the right at the link. Another image of this reactor is found here. In the image above it is at the extreme end of the main structural truss, at the furthest point from the crew habitat. You can identify the reactor by its conical heat radiator.
Habitat radiators are located aft of the crew hab, these purge waste heat generated by electronics, the air circulation system, and the crew.
Actually it is an orbital propellant depot. In cislunar space orbital propellant depots would look slightly different, requiring foil sun shields in order to maintain volatiles at cryogenic temperatures. Harvesting water ice from the lunar polar cold traps could feed depots in LLO, EML-2, and at GEO, LEO depots would either be resupplied from Earth surface launched tankers, or, with sufficient aerobraking technology, from the lunar cold traps. Building this kind of infrastructure would open up the solar system for mankind. The facility depicted here is designed for the outer solar system, and would orbit moons at Jupiter and Saturn. These would receive LH2 and LOX from cracking stations on the surface of icy gas giant moons. Water ice is abundant in the outer solar system and volatile harvesting would be a high profit industry for a space based civilization. DeltaV's for the Saturn system are low enough that nuclear thermal rockets can manage local trade between space colonies, and Titan, with its abundance of hydrocarbons would feed plastics manufacturing, and nitrogen for atmospheric terraforming at Mars.
When I saw it in your other images I did not realize that the tiny fiddly bits on the end of the strut were not soda-can sized electronic modules. They are huge habitat modules!
Makes sense, though, for serious industrialization of space you have to go big or go home.
Nice use of SNAP10A derived design.
Yeah, the scale of the tank-farm dwarfs the other details. Each tank is three hundred feet in diameter. Consistent with an industrial scale materials transfer terminal, and fitting for the scheme of commerce I envision for this period of my future history. I put my own experience into my thought regarding the kind of tasks involved in tracking an inventory of materials transfer in-bound and out, 24-7 as would be required of the crew for a terminal of this sort. I considered the hab design to include a radiation shelter, supplies stowage, tooling and materials for repair and maintenance of the facility, and all the systems necessary for an inhabited outpost. I scaled the hab so accommodations would be roomy in spite of what is packed inside. Considering the three or four man crew is isolated, with only radio contact with a constant stream of tankers—which must be eye-balled in and out of the docking station flight corridor—this is the kind of terminally boring labor that rates as a special kind of grueling. The workers would be well compensated, each transfer is a high profit operation, and the company needs eyes on site monitoring each transaction. A crew of three or four seems optimal, but certainly the hours would be long, but the accommodations, and certainly the food, would be luxurious.