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Orbital Propellant Depot by William-Black Orbital Propellant Depot by William-Black
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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.
Power Systems

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.

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Submitted on
December 7, 2014
Image Size
2.3 MB


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