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29 July 2012
Added "Space Debris and Its Mitigation" to the archive.
16 July 2012
Space Future has been on something of a hiatus of late. With the concept of Space Tourism steadily increasing in acceptance, and the advances of commercial space, much of our purpose could be said to be achieved. But this industry is still nascent, and there's much to do. this space.
9 December 2010
Updated "What the Growth of a Space Tourism Industry Could Contribute to Employment, Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, Education, Culture and World Peace" to the 2009 revision.
7 December 2008
"What the Growth of a Space Tourism Industry Could Contribute to Employment, Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, Education, Culture and World Peace" is now the top entry on Space Future's Key Documents list.
30 November 2008
Added Lynx to the Vehicle Designs page.
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GEODE - Commercial Space Production Facility
Mark L Holderman

The allure of utilizing External Tanks ( ET) for on-orbit space platforms has existed for well over a decade. For this vision to be realized it must first be understood that the ET is already an integral element of a proven, validated and precisely balanced man-rated space delivery system. Excursions or departures from the certified (flight experience) design database ,via extreme engineering changes to the baseline, must be avoided. Safety, predictable performance and the benefits of a successful Operations/Integration program are to be viewed as major accomplishments and not be subjected to unnecessary or potentially deleterious design perturbations.

Concurrently, the External Tank must also be recognized as being an extremely valuable article (piece) of precision space hardware which has as yet to be explored for its on-orbit applications potential. The GEODE* concept and its associated design(s) are feasible, realistic and evidence the embodiment of a very cost effective approach to establishing a Commercial & Industrial presence in Space. Developing a proactive environment that ardently promotes utilization of new discoveries emerging from the unique and exclusive circumstances of a GEODE type facility correlates well with the Western approach towards capitalizing on technological advancements.

In a broad sense, the on-orbit environment in itself provides the motivation and supporting rational for being in-space and implementing the GEODE.

  • Cannot be duplicated on earth (coincidently)
  • Zero-g and micro-g
  • Extreme cleanliness
  • Total vacuum
  • Large, quick temperature excursions
  • Unfiltered EMF Spectrum
  • Radiation
  • Magnetic Fields

The GEODE concept will result in a commercially controlled industrial facility that directly manufactures products that are uniquely and exclusively tied to processes (most proprietary) which absolutely require the on-orbit environment. Additionally, it will also have the capability to provide key elements/compounds & components for terrestrial-based (earth) products. It is also conceivable that a specific manufacturing process would entail a series of earth-space-earth periods of exposure prior to final product delivery.

On-orbit discoveries are just beginning to emerge. Time on-orbit [NASA, MIR, ESA, NASDA, etc.] will lead to a currently unimagined family of industrial processes that will revolutionize how current products are manufactured . New insights are beginning to enable precedent setting technologies to emerge that will transform terrestrial based manufacturing and provide a new generation of products possessing the highest potential to positively affect life. Anticipated areas for showing near term achievements include the following:

  • Protein synthesis/isolation and alteration
  • Doping compounds for terrestrial manufactured alloys
  • Complex matrix catalysts for new "composite family" materials
  • Chemical process derivations and advancements
  • Pharmaceutical development
  • Closed-loop life support systems (recycle/rejuvenate)
  • In situ robotics/human development
  • Proprietary bio-engineered agriculture products
  • Medical procedure enhancements
  • Life Sciences
  • Power generation
  • Biomedical monitoring and Countermeasures
  • Centrifuge facility for partial (g)
  • Long Duration Space Exposure
  • Organic compound separation
  • Sintered and Alloyed materials
  • Fluids characterization
  • Nanotechnology processes & devices (components)
  • Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) manufacturing
  • Genetic manipulation for Agricultural applications {Nano-tech enabled}
  • Tourism (Working Expeditions)

The intent of the GEODE concept is to provide the most efficient, timely and cost effective. Commercial space production facilities that will enable expedited development of the above product arenas [and those as yet undiscovered]

This effort is experiencing the challenges associated with creating the initial "ground swell" of momentum and support that any new approach must weather. Specifically, the GEODE concept is attempting to surface from within a global space infrastructure that is currently focused on negotiating its gestation period regarding commercialization activities. The political environment in the past was perhaps not as conducive towards commercial space activity as that which has currently come into affect. An advancement of the agenda of commercial space is definitely at hand, and the GEODE concept supports all the tenets of that effort. A new Industrial/Economic Revolution, with space as the focus, could be on the immediate horizon.

MARK L. HOLDERMAN (Background & Experience)

Through positions in the Central Intelligence Agency/Office of Development & Engineering (OD&E)/NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) and in the NASA/Space Shuttle Program ( SSP), I have had the opportunity to successfully produce some unique, remarkable, and substantive Development and Operational engineering accomplishments.

The CIA/OD&E responsibilities consisted of two distinct areas, each requiring extensive security clearances; SAR(Special Access Required) and SCI(Specially Compartmented Information). Each area focused on providing to a specific Customer Community what can be referred to as a National Overhead Intelligence capability. The first involved the translation of extremely demanding system requirements into unprecedented aerospace designs and functional qualified space hardware along with the parallel development of a command and control facility. This program ultimately reached an operational status and has surpassed ALL performance requirements. The second focused on the creation of a System Architecture that involved the integration of multiple functional designs which incorporated unique emerging aerospace technologies. The former Under-Secretary of the Air Force for Space [Mr. Jeffery Harris] can corroborate the above activities and accomplishments.

The NASA/ SSP experience includes responsibility for the Integration of the External Tank into the Space Shuttle Program, development (DDT&E) of the Aluminum-Lithium (2195 alloy) Superlight-weight Tank (SLWT), and directly supporting the Space Shuttle Upgrades Program (SSUP) . All aspects of the design, manufacture, System Integration, launch processing and Program Operating Plan of the External Tank are included within the scope of assigned responsibility. Real-time launch support and hardware anomaly resolution are also areas of contribution on an as required basis. A recent contribution is the authoring of the Vulnerability Assessment Methodology (i.e., risk analysis). It is utilized as the accepted process and mechanism for the review and selection of new/upgrade engineering initiatives for the SSP.

Commercial Space Production Facility

The guiding tenet for any space commercial activity must incorporate the potential for profit. While the service industries (communications, remote sensing and launch manifesting) certainly provide return-on-investment, it is the act of production that will yield the true promise of space activities. Space Manufacturing will create a large and influential customer base that will be completely dependent on the processes and products that evolve in the totally unique and exclusive environment of near-Earth-orbit.

However, to date, the identification of the first space process and/or products has been somewhat daunting. Some success has been garnered with crystal growth (GaAs, etc..), physiological insights gleaned from short-term experiments, but no unquestionably unique "activity/insight" that will induce the equivalent fervor of the California 1840 Gold Rush into space and space manufacturing. " Where is the carrot to make this horse trot?....."

The error that has been repeatedly compounded in the series of experiments accomplished to date, is that they have all been nothing more than quantum extensions of our understood knowledge base. Essentially, only duplication of existing terrestrial (1g) processes has been explored during the very limited collective on-orbit time. We are not capitalizing on the opportunities and uniqueness of the space environment. The "new-think" that must be applied to utilization of the space environment has not as yet occurred. When it does occur, an order-of-magnitude increase in knowledge, discoveries and insights will result. Different physical, chemical and environmental mechanisms will be utilized in completely new processes for applications that will yield extremely unique (and exclusive) products.

However, to accomplish any of this a number of important developments must occur. While the much discussed mechanism for increased access to space (customer oriented & user friendly) is an integral aspect of increasing near-Earth orbit commercial activity, it should not be considered an absolutely essential element for orbiting Commercial activities. The manner in which you "arrive" at your destination is not necessarily of the same import as what is actually accomplished once there. Industrial requirements for Volume/habitable-space, with commercial/industrial flexibility and continuous/reliable process support, must all be available in a timely and OPPORTUNISTIC fashion..

Corporations and Academia recognize that it is extremely difficult to embrace new phenomenon and opportunity when you are limited to the operational and logistical confines of shoe-box [ref. IEEE report: WHAT THE UNITED STATES MUST DO TO REALIZE THE ECONOMIC PROMISE OF SPACE. Aerospace Research and Development Policy Committee, December 17, 1993: pg. 10]. While the International Space Station can serve as a vanguard facility for initial discoveries and insights, the limitation of its design to "shoe-box like" equipment changes (experiment racks can be upgraded only if the equipment can traverse through the meager dimensions of the Orbiter airlock , or squeeze into the volume of the ISS mini-logistics-payload module), it will never support the demands of commercial manufacturing unless it undergoes extreme facility upgrades (with commensurate cost increase).

An example of a prime candidate for the initial tenant of a Commercial space production facility is that of Nanotechnology & MEMS [Micro Electro Mechanical Systems]. These leading-edge fields of technology are quickly challenging the capabilities of terrestrial (1g) processing methods. The environmental factors that influence and limit terrestrial production processes, when mitigated or completely negated, and coupled with the utilization of the coincident effects of space, will enable these technologies to thrive. With the introduction of products that utilize the Nano-MEMS technologies, a whole new World Market will emerge. The environment of space may truly be the cradle for the next Industrial/Economic Revolution.

NANOTECHNOLOGY sensors poised for production in the space environment (pressure, flow, strain gauges, chemical process monitors, etc...) have attracted the attention of the Medical Community (e.g. Texas Medical Center, Houston, TX). Initial applications would be in continuous non-intrusive direct function monitoring of key vital internal organs [e.g. strain-gauges attached directly to the heart muscle group for continuous monitoring of contraction uniformity in order to establish a baseline for heart anomaly predictions].

The circle of potential products and identified consumers (market) is adequately established. The opportunity for Commerce in space to commence is clearly at hand.


Of major interest to Corporate and Academic institutions is the order-of-magnitude increase in available/usable volume, greatly increased ease of access to space, and the total protection of proprietary investments that GEODE provides. The user will no longer be encumbered by the NASA SSP payload integration and manifest templates for the ISS.

The size, characteristics, and capability of the Commercial/Industrial Process and Applications Platform (CIPAP) module/pallet are significantly different from anything previously flown with the Space Shuttle Program ( SSP) or intended for use with the International Space Station ( ISS). Additionally, the CIPAP module(s) will have the option of manufacture by the owner and be internally controlled through outfitting and integration into the SSP (or other selected launch/delivery system) by the commercial and/or industrial entity. The NASA will provide integration and safety assessments for the CIPAP module/pallets utilizing the SSP launch system. The SSP will NOT be involved in the process if a launch/delivery system other than SSP is selected (unless requested).

The volume of the CIPAP module/pallet is a key element towards the commercialization and industrialization of space (approx. 7ft dia x 11ft ln). The physical size of the pallet/module [PM] integrates easily into established corporate IR&D labs, facilities in academia, and can be transported via conventional options, avoiding costly logistic measures. These dimensions (with accompanying mass requirements) allows the PM to be launched on a number of existing intermediate launch vehicles (The fact that the module/pallet(s) may be physically linked within the GEODE allows for true manufacturing and processing lines to exist in the on-orbit environment (12 individual pallets/module can be located in the GEODE with capability for change-out per customer requirement). The entire surface area and volume (inner & outer) can be utilized and configured to suit innumerable layouts. A key aspect of the design that allows this to be the case is that the CIPAP pallet/module need NOT be a pressure vessel [although the pressure vessel feature can be incorporated into the PM design] . The PMs are located/operated in an exclusive zero-g environment, providing "shirtsleeve" crew activities, and supported by a wide variety of facility capabilities.

Actual process operations will be able to occur with minimal limitations on facility support requirements or encumbrances from station operational constraints. Proprietary processes will be fully protected. The following will be supplied from a utility grid that has sufficient embedded performance margin so as to not impose utilization restrictions; power, heating, cooling, telemetry, independent communication and control, various gases & fluids, vacuum, pressure, full spectrum unfiltered solar light (complete RF), near-instantaneous temperature variations, zero-g/micro-g, Clean-Room environment, and vibration isolation mechanisms.

Product delivery (i.e. finished articles or completed process steps) to Earth may be accomplished via NASA/Orbiter or other Independent Reentry Capsules (IRC). The IRC would utilize existing and proven DoD technology that will allow for timely and consistent delivery of the commercial product to the parent Corporation


Both the level of participation and the opportunity to take advantage of the GEODE capabilities is perceived to be high for the Commercial Sector. The International Corporations/Consortiums will now be able to focus entirely on processing, applications and development activities rather than the establishment of the support facility (e.g., Columbus Module). The potential for reduction in time between initial investment and the anticipated return is clearly evident. Corporate attention will ultimately be concerned with attaining a manifest position with the next compatible launch system available.

Because the CIPAP pallet/module is not necessarily a pressurized structure, participation from a large field of foreign manufacturers will occur due to wide variety of construction methods that can be utilized. Weight and the standardized Orbiter Payload Integration requirements and the defined GEODE interfaces will be the primary constraints for the pallet/module design. This will allow precise tailoring of the pallet/module layout in order to maximize the success and repeatability of the process being addressed. As the facility/utility interface and structural handling/anchor points are the only required standardized interfaces, foreign consortiums will be free to use regional engineering practices that would not otherwise be able to be utilized in on-orbit activities. This approach will stimulate increased foreign utilization as lessons-learned during terrestrial utilization will now be able to be utilized in the space environment to the greatest extent possible.


The GEODE design is intended to impose virtually no impacts to the existing Space Shuttle Program, which includes ALL qualified hardware, Operational procedures and performance requirements within the set of certified system environments.

(NSTS 07700, Vol. X)

GEODE [Commercial/Industrial Process & Applications Platform: CIPAP]

The Orbiting Commercial/Industrial Process & Applications Platform (CIPAP), refered to herein as GEODE, is a truly viable concept that genuinely accommodates the requirements of industrial-scale and realistic cost. It will be a manned space production platform that supports proprietary processes (the linchpin of commerce & profit) and is intended for use by ALL Commercial and Academic sectors.

The technical aspects of the GEODE concept are substantially unique in that they impose virtually no modifications to the operational Space Shuttle Program ( SSP). It utilizes existing and/or certified hardware without impacting the NASA manifest or depleting hardware assets (i.e., SSME, Orbiter, etc.). It is intended to be the vanguard space production platform for commercial production and manufacturing activities. Embedded in its design is the capability for duplicate platforms to be built, allowing specialized production environments to be precisely tailored for unique/exclusive process support.

The intent of the GEODE concept is to offer the Commercial and Academic sectors (other than traditional Aerospace) a real and genuine opportunity to participate in the exclusive space environment while maximizing the potential for profit. This Orbiting Commercial/Industrial Product and Applications Platform (CIPAP), will be capable of supporting a number of production environments and requirements. It is planned to be efficient, flexible, and supportive of commercial needs, and for GEODE to be capable of duplication, thereby enabling opportunity for specific applications on a number of orbiting platforms. The GEODE is intended as an adjunct to the International Space Station Alpha (ISSA), capable of complete operational status 3 years after ISS completion. Additionally, no technical issues or concerns exist that would preclude earlier delivery and operation.

This effort is experiencing the challenges associated with creating the initial "ground swell" of momentum and support that any new approach must weather. Specifically, the GEODE concept is attempting to surface from within a global space infrastructure that is currently focused on negotiating its gestation period regarding commercialization activities. The political environment in the past was perhaps not as conducive towards commercial space activity as that which has currently come into affect. An advancement of the agenda of commercial space is definitely at hand, and the GEODE concept supports all the tenets of that effort. A new Industrial/Economic Revolution, with space as the focus, could be on the immediate horizon.

GEODE CONCEPT (Technical Highlights)

  • The LO2 Tank is an impressive structure that has a high degree of multiple-discipline engineering associated with it. The gore panels of the forward ogive consist of 2219 Aluminum sheet that tapers from .125in at the weld lands to a minimum of .088in for the major portions of the ogive acreage(i.e. surface area); The LH2 tank wall thickness ranges from a minimum of .250in to 1.475in at the longitudinal stiffeners (T-cross section). It is interesting to note that the Space Station Freedom began with a minimum wall thickness of .050in that was increased to .188in for micro-meteoroid protection on the current Space Station Alpha. Additionally, the fact that the Russian Mir I Space Station is operating with a minimum wall thickness of .080in with an integrated waffle design helps put all referenced dimensions in proper perspective. It should also be noted that the LO2 forward ogive is a double compound surface (radius on radius) which results in a very stiff/strong structure. The LO2 tank structure receives ALL aero-loads during ascent, meets all 07700 Vol. X environments and is documented as being the last structure of the External Tank to break-up on entry (DTO: Side Glance & Star Cast Reconnaissance).

  • Radiation shielding is a notable concern. The EMU(spacesuit) contractor , ILC Dover (Int'l Latex Corp), has shown an early interest in this proposal and has offered a design solution that not only addresses radiation requirements, it also provides a redundant system for maintaining the shirt sleeve atmosphere in either the LO2 or LH2 tank (configuration dependent). Thermal requirements, micro meteoroid protection, atmospheric maintenance (condensation included), deployment and ops/maintenance have been covered. Essentially, the concept is very similar to erecting a pop-up tent inside one of the main ET volumes (LO2 is chosen as representative). An Astro or Abel Mast is utilized as the motive force for deployment of the "bladder" in the LO2 tank. The bladder utilizes a similar layer cross-section as the EMU but has the advantage of the tank wall serving as the restraint mechanism. An option to first deploy an internal thermal barrier prior to the bladder has also been considered. It would follow an umbrella-type deployment that utilizes lightweight battens to initially locate the thermal insert (barrier) which would then be followed by the aforementioned main bladder deployment. Access to the LO2 volume is via scarring (proprietary) that has taken place at MAF during the ET build process.
LO2 TANK ADAPTER COLLAR (Barrel section)

  • The actual scarring of the External Tank for on-orbit utilization has been reviewed by MMC/MAF and is regarded as achievable and realistic, while also causing minimal impact to NSTS 07700, Vol. X. In an overview perspective, it entails utilizing the single-radius wall of the barrel section of the LO2 tank. (approx. 8.5ft high). A "double door/wall" has been proposed that would satisfy Ascent Design requirements as well as those of related Ops Scenarios while on-orbit. This configuration would be similar to the existing inspection plates (manhole covers) located in both the LO2 and LH2 aft tank domes. The main excursion from the certified design would be the introduction of an inner door/plate that would serve as the primary cryogenic seal and an outer cover that would be conformal to the ET outer moldline and incorporate appropriate deployment schemes utilizing the Orbiter RMS. Under the outer cover plate would be the Adapter Collar seal & attach surface with integrated hardware for RMS docking of the unit. LO2 tank ullage volume and characteristics are anticipated to receive minimal impact from the introduction of this hardware into the barrel section and slosh baffles. Loads will be distributed through an annulus compression ring, effectively isolating the 7.5ft dia scarring from ascent loads. Internal LO2 pressure head loads would be the design driver for the "double door/wall" configuration. The "bladder" concept will also be applied to volume intended for habitable use in the Aft Cargo Carrier. Adoption of this approach would preclude the ACC volume from being pressurized during ascent, which can be translated into design flexibility and (hopefully) cost effectiveness.

  • Aero-drag at the planned orbit altitude does provide a significant deleterious affect to the orbital maintenance requirements of the GN&C system. Propellant usage in the RCS/ACS system must be kept at a minimum so as to preclude heavy logistic flight burdens. If the ET/ACC is oriented with the longitudinal axis along nadir (near gravity gradient), with the velocity vector orthogonal to it and passing parallel to the circular cross-section of ET, then a rather large surface area would present itself to the effects of aero-drag. However, this drag is of the same order of magnitude that is offered by the ISS Solar Array configuration. Additionally, the solar pressure against the ET surface area and the Solar Arrays will tend to contribute towards offsetting the induced aero-drag, although not completely. The positive impact to orbital maintenance from the increase in mass to ISS (approx. 80Klbs.), which is contributed in the form of a very stout structure (22HZ), must also be considered. Also, the fact that with the Articulated Propulsion modules on the ET, plus the integrated reboost engines in the ACC, the orbital maintenance adjustments will be applied very close to the ACTUAL CG of GEODE, rather than through an artificial CG reached via software burn algorithms. RCS firings are most efficient/effective when applied through the actual CG of an on-orbit platform.

  • A very viable option also exists for aligning the longitudinal axis of the ET/ACC with the velocity vector of the ISS. This completely sidesteps the issue of aero-drag, but does result in a reduction in benefits (GN&C perspective) from the gravity gradient orientation of ET. ACS/RCS firings would continue to be through the actual CG of GEODE (or very close to it) , with the ACC location residing in a very effective position for maximizing propellant efficiency. The Solar Array would continue to track in an independent solar inertial orientation

  • One of the greatest advantages of the GEODE concept is the utilization of the ETs mass and structural characteristics for simple, effective and efficient attitude control. GEODE places the ET longitudinal axis directly along the system nadir so that the resulting gravity gradient orientation can be easily capitalized upon. This type of attitude provides a very straightforward and streamlined rendezvous and docking process for Orbiter, as well as also facilitating docking operations with other-than- SSP delivery systems (International & Commercial)

  • Because the Aft Cargo Carrier is integrated and checked-out on the ground, the GEODE concept arrives on-orbit with a fully functional GN&C system that is sized for the final configuration, thereby avoiding the obstacle associated with building and attempting to control a growing platform (from a mass, CG & configuration standpoint). The Control Authority resident in the CMGs (Control Moment Gyros) alone will be sufficient for the planned final GEODE configuration, but also have embedded design margin for handling later enhancements. The actual configuration of the CMGs will be that of an inverted tetrahedron. Structural ties will be directly to the 2058 LH2 tank ring-frame and to the side wall of the ACC. By placing a large mass CMG on each face of the "pyramid" the number of primary units required for nominal ops and to satisfy redundancy requirements, will be four (4) instead of the customary six (6) associated with a major axis layout. This configuration would be very similar to that utilized on the GPS satellites, but on a much larger scale. Additionally, four smaller CMGs would be mounted on each face near the apex of the tetrahedron. These would serve in a vernier type capacity and correspondingly reduce the utilization of the RCS/Propulsion system(s) for trim type maneuvers, thereby increasing their efficiency.

  • As the ET is an inherently stiff structure (nat. freg=20Hz) with a mass of 66K lbs., it offers a number of design attributes that will be specifically beneficial to the functional requirements of the GN&C system. The 2058 ring frame of the LH2 tank (pathway for SRB, SSME thrust loads) provides the anchor for the Orbiter main attach points (EO2/EO3) and will also be the structural tie-in for the ACC located CMG units. This physical arrangement will provide extremely efficient structural responses to any GN&C input actions. Additionally, the ET already has a high fidelity structural/dynamic and loads model that has been both verified and validated as well as an associated data base that is extensive and the result of a large experience base. The welded construction of this structure differs significantly from the various built-on-orbit configurations of other designs as those must all contend with some type of fastener & latch system that will introduce dynamic flexibility and complexity which will have to be accounted for in the GN&C functional performance requirements.

  • The Sprayed On Foam Insulation (SOFI) surface area of the ET (primarily a cylinder) provides a thermally tolerant/stable configuration that should not experience dimensionally large thermal excursions. This should significantly diminish CG shifts due to induced configuration/mass movements that are directly tied to thermal response characteristics of "built-up" (flexible) structures.

  • All systems are integrated into the ACC on the ground and are commanded to autonomously deploy on-orbit. The 22 kW Solar Array (w/ shunt load radiator) utilizes a nested drawer approach for deployment out of the ACC. The primary radiator and communications suite follow in similar fashion. Cable runs for the power distribution system will be integrated into the existing ET cable tray. Transfer of utilities into the Industrial Process Area (LO2 tank), crew hab modules and Industrial Airlock will be via the Adapter Collar. EVA will be required for initial connection. Constant Conducting Heat Pipes will be incorporated in the ET cable tray as well.

  • The ACC will also have an integrated Facility Enhancement Port that will be configured for accepting power inputs from either a Radioactive Thermal Generator (RTG) power system ora focused Solar Concentrator type system. A standardized docking collar will be utilized so thatthe augmenting power unit can be installed directly from the Orbiter payload bay with the RMS.

  • Communications will incorporate the use of a 6.4 GBS (giga-bits per sec) downlink with S & W band crosslink capability which should adequately support the Command/Control/Communication needs of both the GEODE and its user community. [Based on Hughes Aircraft Co., Space & Com Groupprojected capabilities]

  • This module is the direct interface to the interior of the LO2 tank volume and is the primary meansfor integrating the CIPAP pallet/modules(p/m) into GEODE. The 8ft diameter exterior airlock door is remotely operated from the cupola control deck and is viewed via the periscope and closed circuittelevision (integrated lighting source). No EVA will be required for transfer of the CIPAP p/m from Orbiter to the alignment and guide rail or for translation to the interior of the airlock. The alignment and guide rail extends through the airlock and into the Industrial Process Area(IPA). Once theCIPAP p/m is positioned in the IPA it is configured into the utility matrix support grid.The CIPAP p/m will be acclimatized for a period while in the Industrial Airlock in order to not impart a thermal equalization burden on the LO2 tank IPA.

  • The Industrial Airlock will recycle essentially ALL of the atmosphere associated with the normal operations of the system.

  • The Airlock Module has an integrated by-pass access route as an alternate path to the Assured CrewReturn Vehicle. This will also serve as a means for accessing the crew secondary airlock and therebyenabling EVA (if required) while CIPAP p/m integration operations are underway and the main Industrial Airlock is being utilized.

  • The Cargo & Logistics Transfer Platform will be utilized for temporary storage of items that cannotbe immediately taken into the interior of GEODE. Utility hook-ups will be provided for thermal, cooling power support and monitoring functions and will require EVA for hookup. Standard ops would be forcargo and logistics to be integrated onto a sled with the same interfaces/dimensions as the CIPAP p/m.These would be the last off-load from Orbiter with the sleds being returned to Orbiter for reprocessingand the next flight.

  • Debris on orbit has always been a concern for the ISS. The TPS/SOFI (Thermal Protection Sys/Sprayed On Foam Insulation) on the External Tank is often viewed as being fragile and prone to "popcorn" type effects. In fact, the rhine on the outer surface of the SOFI has been demonstrated to be UV resistant (terrestrial test) and extremely "tough". The adhesion qualities are excellent and outgassing appears to not be a concern (as evidenced by Orbiter Umbilical -well cameras and hand held photos from SSP DTOs). Most "debris" from TPS/SOFI is generated during ascent, with indications to date indicating that the SOFI will persistently remain adhered to the ET, accepting with ease the minute dimensional changes that ET will experience from the on-orbit thermal environment (ie., passing in/out of the terminator as well as solar basting).

  • IF atomic oxygen has a severe effect on the rhine of the SOFI, very small particulate debris would result.However, the aero erosion of ascent could be considered much more abrasive than would result from on-orbit conditions. Additionally, the work of J. Loftus at JSC has indicated that the SOFI debris, being of such small mass, would begin to deorbit after one revolution thereby leaving the GEODE'simmediate vicinity and not presenting a problem condition. MMC/MAF has investigated a multitudeof options to totally eliminate any threat of debris emanating from the SOFI. Design solutions haveincluded deployable MLI-kevlar shields, new anti-debris coatings applied at MAF to the SOFI, and containment sheaths that could be erected with minimal EVA.

  • Martin Marietta has persistently studied (IR&D) L02 scavenging techniques for the cryogenic LO2 residuals remaining after MECO. A large percentage of the LO2 residing in the feedline wouldbe applied towards establishing the habitable atmosphere in the "bladder" of the ET volume being utilized (e.g. LO2 tank). The hardware associated with this system would be located in the intertank andwould be positioned so as to not perturb the integrated stack CG and to also meet the required loads and vibro-acoustic environments of NSTS 07700, Vol. X.

  • The Bladder would have built-in conduits (soft) that would be tied into a recirculation ventand distribution system in order to avoid stratification within the 22,000cuft L02 tank volume(usable volume would be less). Condensation concerns would also be addressed by the same system with a direct link to a water reclamation loop being an integral part of the Bladder design(although this would not be part of the initial bladder deployment).

  • The focus of the CIPAP p/m is to provide a standardized means for Corporate America and the institution of Academia to readily and easily utilize the space environment. Time spent on-orbit will vary as each CIPAP p/m will have specific duration requirements. Industry will be able to establish proprietary process lines in GEODE by integrating (in a linear fashion) any number of the CIPAP p/ms. The units will have the option of change-out and return, depending only on the revisit schedule of the Orbiter. Other international orbital-reentry vehicles will also have access to the GEODE thereby decreasing exclusive reliance on the SSP/Orbiter and adding flexibility for the tenants/customers of the facility.

  • The GEODE customers will have access to a utility grid that will supply the brunt of their process support needs. Uniform connections with standardized hook-up practices will dramatically increasethe customer/user base. The CIPAP p/m are intended to be load bearing only type structures. These units will not be pressurized as they will be integrated into a shirtsleeve Industrial Process Area withinthe 22,000cuft LO2 tank. Because they are not pressurized, fabrication of the units will be very straightforward and allow any institution with appropriate industrial capabilities the opportunity to manufacture them. Corporations will be able to build the p/ms "in-house" while some Universitiesmay elect to build units with their campus based lab facilities. The dimensions of the CIPAP can beaccommodated by most Corporate IR&D facilities and will also fit into the vast majority of Universitylaboratories. The units will also be easily transportable, being able to use surface streets/highways, railroads and some aircraft for transport to the launch facilities. This will allow the majority of checkout procedures to occur at the point of outfitting rather than exclusively at the launch site.

  • The CIPAP p/m may either be a stand-alone unit, supplying all support functions from SSP launch to GEODE integration, or they can be integrated into the payload bay with utility requirements provided by the Orbiter. All CIPAP p/ms will be built incompliance with SSP safety requirements and will be submitted for design and construction compliance reviews (NASA oversight).

  • The CIPAP p/m is 7ft dia x 11ft length. Construction can be any of a number of different designs (open truss, cylinder, etc..) as long as provision is made for accommodating the standardized interfaces for integration into the Orbiter (Keel & PRLA attach points) and the Industrial Airlock of GEODE (Alignment & Guide rail).The dimensions were determined by a number of factors. Maximum utility of the available volume in the LO2 tank was a primary consideration. In conjunction with this requirement was the necessity of minimizing the required scarring of the LO2 tank so that existing hardware certifications would not be greatly perturbed. This was accomplished by restricting the modification to the LO2 tank to only the barrel section of the unit (which also houses the sloshbaffles). The dimension of 7.5 ft dia. was estimated to be the maximum that could be introduced into the certified design with a minimum of engineering changes. The barrel section is also considered the simplest of the three sections that make up the LO2 tank (fwd ogive/barrel/aft dome) and would introduce the least amount of changes on the manufacturing floor at MAF.

  • A key aspect of the CIPAP p/m is that of its physical dimensions and corresponding "visual-presence". For a Corporation or University to risk venture capital in an unproven arena, each will have to convince either share holders or trustees, that the potential for return on the investment is high. A major contributor towards this end is dealing with the influence attended by the human factor of "scale". In the business world, "things" must look as though they value. They must also appear as though they will actually work. A module with dimensions similar to those of the normal living room sofa does not immediately garner investment support. This is because it appears insufficient in size to produce anything of merit ("it just doesn't look big enough to be worth the costs, let alone make anything worthwhile..."). In industrial America, production on any scale (electronics inclusive) requires adequate volume. "Living-room sofas" just do not have enough volume; They are not big enough! Therein lies a subtle though important advantage of the CIPAP p/ looks like it can do the job.

  • The pedigree of engineering work accomplished to date on this general design is quite extensive. Primary Contractors of the Space Shuttle Program ( SSP) have contributed a substantial amount ofcorporate IR&D as well as utilizing funds supplied directly by NASA Contract ( SSP/Schedule-D). Martin Marietta has delivered a formidable study entitled System Definition Handbook: Aft CargoCarrier (IR&D D-31S & D-78s, circa 1985) and a companion effort, ET to Orbit Demonstration Mission(IR&D M-09S). Rockwell International produced the STS/85-0190 Aft Cargo Carrier Integration Assessment Final Report (NAS9-14000 Schedule-D). Each of these substantive assessments indicatethe clear technical viability of the ACC and add valuable support for the GEODE concept. The greatermajority of technical questions, issues and concerns that may arise concerning the ACC aspect of theGEODE concept are contained within the referenced material.

  • The usable volume of the ACC is quite notable and is inscribed by the following dimensions; 26ft diameter by 20ft length (beyond the aft dome of the LH2 tank). The identified space is considered "clear" and can accept numerous interior layouts with appropriate support structure configurations.

  • These units are attached to ET utilizing a rail system that is anchored at the SRB forward attach fixture and a truss system that ties into the aft flange of the Intertank. The propulsion modules are designed to be replenished on-orbit rather than replaced with reciprocal exchange units from the Orbiter. The intent of these units is to move the actual physical location of the RCS (Reaction Control System) thrusters to a very close approximation of the integrated GEODE Center of Gravity (CG). Translation along the guide rail will allow GEODE to accommodate payload, cargo, CIPAP p/m, depletion of consumables, and the major CG perturbation that occurs when Orbiter docks. Because the Propulsion Modules/RCS will not be confined to firing through an artificially defined system CG, the customary solution of utilizing software algorithms for GN&C requirements can be relaxed. A more efficient and effective system will result, increasing the expected logistic life cycle.

  • The closed loop Brayton power cycle generator that was developed by Lewis Research Center has been adapted and expanded in capability for utilization on GEODE (ref.: NASA TM-89863: Opportunities to evolve Brayton Powerplants for space station). This unit is enclosed in a stand-alone module that requires one shuttle mission for delivery and deployment. The high pressure/high temperature sections of the unit are located directly at the base of the 34ft dia. reflector. Two separate collectors are in the focus of separate faces of the reflector, thereby providing both redundancy and flexibility for changing power load requirements. The collector/reflector that is chosen to be taken off-line can be done so by rotating the collector head assembly out of the reflector focus.

  • A group of Shunt Radiators will be directly located on the primary reflector unit base to provide quick response to system thermal requirements. High temperature thermal pumping of the liquid Lithium will occur at this point for transfer along the tracking/support boom to the generation module (located directly adjacent to the ACC).

  • Two provisions for emergency jettison of the unit are provided, both of which will not comprise the pressurized environment of the crew volume or affect interruption to the emergency power grid. The first severance plane is located on the boom end immediately adjacent to the reflector unit. The second would be at the interface to the Aft Cargo Carrier(ACC). This location necessitates incorporation of a small pressure door (located in the adapter collar) as well as provisions for severance of power/control cables that lead into the ACC. The pressure door also allows for on-orbit maintenance/repair to be carried out in a shirt-sleeve environment. This particular aspect of the design contributes to a very cost effective and efficient power generation unit to be produced as extreme long-life and redundant systems can be minimized due to this real-time spares/replacement and maintenance capability.

  • The power estimate for this unit is approximately [85]kW, based on a Brayton cycle efficiency of .46 at 1500 K(degree) for a complete power-plant, coupled to a specific reflector/radiator requirement of .85m2/kW. A Brayton rotating unit (prototype) has been run continuously in a thermal-vacuum chamber for 38,057 hours at the Lewis Research Center.

  • The PR/PR station provides the capability to receive a varied array of independently delivered (ie., other than via Orbiter) payloads and modules. Serviceable satellites, CIPAP modules, Logistics pallets containingeither process support provisions or crew/habitat essentials (oxygen, water, food, hygiene items), or other carrier platforms capable of using the standardized docking unit. The PR/PR station is of a unique construction. The hexagonal structure consists of faces that are of similar material to that utilized by the space suits (EMU) that are manufactured by ILC-Dover, Inc. that is erected by means of a deployable lightweight support skeleton [e.g., very similar to a pop-up tent]. The back face of the PR/PR consists of load carrying plate (metal or composite) that is integrally attached to the Air Lock and also serves as ameans of securing the assembly to the ET at the Orbiter attach points (E01 & E02). This particular aspectof the PR/PR enables it to be firmly integrated into the over-all ET/GEODE structure as well as providea very capable load path for absorbing the contact forces of the rendezvousing payloads.

  • The PR/PR will also have the capability of servicing a free flyer platform similar to the Industrial SpaceFacility (ISF: Max Faget). The ISF-class of platform could rendezvous with greater frequency than couldbe accomplished with just the Orbiter. Transfer of interim/final product could also take place at this timewhile also presenting the opportunity to inspect the ISF-class platform autonomous processes. Logistical make-up of on-board process consumables would also occur at this time. Replacement of process unitsthat were not operating within specifications could occur during this time via GEODE astronaut EVA into the ISF-class platform

  • Product return to earth will be a prime capability of this PR/PR station. The Product Return Capsules (PRC)will be appropriately sized to return any product manufactured on GEODE. The delivery scheme will resemble the operational profile of the photo return capsules of the early KH-11 reconnaissance satellites (CIA). An initial set of six PRC will be onboard the PR/PR. Supplementation of the utilized PRC will bevia Orbiter, Delta-188/Atlas, Ariane or other delivery system. This type of flexibility allows reliance onthe Orbiter for return of product to greatly diminish.

  • This aspect of the GEODE concept should be viewed as a follow-on enhancement that is notabsolutely required for fully operational capability. The ACC is designed for its ultimateintegration into the GEODE configuration. It is not mandatory for nominal GN&C functions,although it will contribute a significant ancillary benefit. The angular momentum of its rotationdumps into the gravity gradient attitude of the ET resulting in a very stable platform, similar to therelationship of the de-spun platform of a Hughes Aircraft Corporation (HAC) 376 series satelliteand its spun power/propellant drum.

  • The Body(ring & hub) of the centrifuge will be assembled utilizing 3 Orbiter flights and will be accomplished with minimal EVA requirements (Mission Scenarios with Ops plans have alreadybeen formulated). The outside diameter of the ring will be 50ft with a ring cross-section of 10.5ft(o/d.). After the configuration reaches it nominal operating speed of 6rpm, an artificial gravityof .37g will be available to the crew. An access tube will extend from the hub to the ring.This functions as an acclimation zone for the crew as they translate from 0g to the partial g of thecentrifuge ring, allowing for a gradual introduction of gravitational effects so that nausea willnot be an excessive burden.

  • Crew access and logistics transfer between the Centrifuge/ACC and the forward crew modules & Industrial Process Area will be accomplished in one of two manners. A pre-integrated transfertunnel that is located within the LH2 tank is one option. It would be installed during manufactureof the ET at the Michoud Assembly Facility. Flexible bellows would later be installed on-orbit (EVA)which would connect the forward and aft LH2 tank domes to the transfer tunnel and the ACC Habvolume. However, this approach requires substantial modification to the ET (requiring flightcertification) and may be prohibitive from a cost standpoint. A less intrusive approach to the ETdesign utilizes external tunnel sections to connect an access port collar on the ACC with the forwardHab module expansion port. The external tunnel would attach to the LO2 feedline, using it as a structural backbone.

  • Rotation of the centrifuge will not place a burden on the main power grid of GEODE. The kick-motorthat maintains rotation of the centrifuge will be supplied power from solar arrays that are attached alongthe circumference of the ring. Lighting and other crew requirements will also be handled by this system. Adopting this independent power configuration greatly diminishes the need for slip rings on the hub collar/annulus. Kevlar MLI (Multiple Layer Insulation) will be sandwiched between the Solar Array and ring in order to provide increased protection from micro meteoroids.

  • EOS sensors will be able to be integrated into the aft end of the centrifuge hub. An optical observation window allows some sensors to be located directly within the hab-space of the hub. This opensa new capability for sensor design and upgrade as on-orbit real-time maintenance will become a reality while at the same time NOT require EVA for support. No longer will the sensor package be shackled to a remote platform that requires semi-autonomous on-orbit functions while also needing a dedicated ground support , command, and control system. Those sensors not capable of functioning behind an optical window will be integrated on a platform external to the hub and be accessible by EVA and/or mini-RMS.

GEODE & ISS: Commercial Augmentation

  • Structurally attach and integrate a GEODE configured External Tank to the International Space Station. The GN&C and Orbit maintenance/RCS functions of the ISS will now utilize the GEODE hardware, with Command and Control continuing to reside in its original architecture. The location of the physical integration can be either at a Russian module or at an appropriate NASA Node. All Control Moment Gyros [CMG], power, thermal, communication & control, propulsion modules [On-orbit replenish], and other required systems will be operational in one Shuttle flight. The GEODE configuration will allow the LO2 tank to be converted to either Industrial processes for product manufacture or receiving Transfer & Accommodation Modules [TAM] for guests.

  • Incorporates the External Tank [22Hz. structural natural frequency] into the existing International Space Station configuration to assume primary responsibility for the GN&C/RCS functions. This is accomplished by utilizing the ET Aft Cargo Carrier with the GEODE configuration.

  • The representative orientation of the ET ACC (longitudinal axis along nadir) in the attached graphics is subject to final placement to provide the most efficient orientation for the GN&C/Orbital Maintenance function. On-orbit aero-drag and the effects of solar-pressure can be mitigated by the retraction/furling of one of the initial ISS arrays that is near end-of-life. Ifthe longitudinal axis of GEODE is aligned along the velocity vector, drag influences will begreatly diminished.

  • GN&C for ISS will reside primarily with the new CMG cluster that will be arranged in an inverted tetrahedron [1CMG set per face/plane] and hard attached to the 2058 ringframe of the ET.
    • The 2058 ringframe is the strongest sub-structure of the ET, integrating the static/dynamic loads of the Orbiter, Space Shuttle Main Engines, Solid Rocket Boosters, and cyrogenic propellants of the ET tanks.
    • A Natural damping effect will result from the GEODE/ ISS configuration, due to the 66K lbs. of the ET and the 25K lbs. of the Aft Cargo Carrier.
    • CMGs will be more efficient as they will be reacting through a stiffer structure. (22Hz vs.1Hz)
    • smaller vernier-type CMGs will be resident on the same inverted tetrahedron facesas the primary course-grain units.
    • Orbiter will dock with a less reactive structure
    • All GEODE CMGs will be serviceable on-orbit in a shirt-sleeve environment

  • Orbit Adjust propulsion modules will translate firings through and inherently stiff structure,thereby increasing both efficiency and effectiveness.
    • Units will be designed for replenishment rather than replacement.
    • Option to incorporate Articulated propulsion-modules onto the ET (via various existing and available attach points) that will enable RCS firings through a close physical approximation of the CG that results when Orbiter docks with ISS.

  • The GEODE configuration will also have a follow-on capability to integrate an advanced Life Support System inside the very large volume [53,518 cu ft.] LH2 tank. Incorporation of this system will diminish logistic flights for the ISS and have a favorable impact on operation costs
    • Active bacteria, emerging membrane technologies and semi-mechanical/pnuematic systems wil be integrated to provide Recycled/Revitalized oxygen and water for the ISS crew and experiment/production-process support.

  • The primary means of delivery to orbit will be the U.S. Shuttle, although the design of the TAMallows it to be integrated into other man-rated launch systems as they become available. The outer moldline of the TAM closely adheres to that of the CIPAP p/m module, with some notableexceptions that address human egress and life support requirements. The TAM can be configured to accommodate 2 or 4 guests.

  • Access to the TAM, when integrated into the Orbiter Payload Bay, will be via a standard keel tunnel that extends from the Crew Module External Airlock to the pressure door on the TAM. The middle section of the TAM is the pressurized Hab volume and allows the travelers to utilize the same high-altitude suits as the NASA astronauts. The outer sections of the TAM hold logistical supply racks that store the make-up oxygen, water and food necessary to augment the GEODE operations baseline during the stay of the guest(s). The pressure door is integral to the TAM and is not considered a load bearing structural member. Exterior hardware attach fittings will be the same as those of the CIPAP p/m. Electrical and avionic connections will provide voice communication, atmosphere monitoring of Hab volume by Ground Ops, and Video observation by the guests of the Orbiter flight deck.

    Guest Support:
    Special hygiene toiletries, "Gourmet" Short-life food types, Luxury undergarments, Quality Outer-wear [suitable for distinguished and notable Earth use] Personal item(s) weight/volume allotment.
    Warm-soft fabrics utilized throughout, Personal shower stall, Lighting control, Temperature control, 6-axis position control straps for each guest, Complete Video /Music Entertainment center (dedicated links)
    GEODE Amenities:
    On-demand sleep accommodations in .36g centrifuge, partial gravity toilet, Wide field of view observation port in centrifuge, Optional Space walk in Payload Receive/Payload Return module, Exploration of Zero-gravity science & effects, and Unlimited Photographic facilities.


The following Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) Cost Figures were derived from the (then) existing contract data of the Space Station Freedom Program. The basic contract structure associated with that program Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) caused ridiculously high cost numbers to be driven out for each Work Breakdown Section (WBS). Essentially, the data bases should have been considered exorbitant and unreasonably high. None the less, as they wereOFFICIAL, [from a NASA viewpoint] they became the basis for the following estimate.

However, if a different contract plan/approach was followed, the costs associated with the outlined WBS would be notably less. Additionally, as this would be contract work within and amongst a group of Commercial Contractors, the associated rates relative to each WBS would approach realistic/acceptable levels. The government portion of the costs could be structured under a Cost Plus Award Fee contract. This Commercial Sector Consortium will utilize both refined and innovative business approaches towards the financing and construction of the first GEODE. Additionally, as the GEODE design does not require development of any new technology, the opportunity for success is greatly enhanced.

Also, the fact that GEODE can be produced a minimum of 5* times (5 separate orbiting GEODE platforms), costs will drop commensurately to the length of the production run and total number of GEODE(s) produced.

Bottom Line: Actual GEODE cost would be approximately HALF of what appears in the following estimate. The cost savings for minimized launches, extremely reduced logistics, and pay-back due to actual product being manufactured, are NOT included. When taken into account, the GEODE evidences itself as an extremely viable endeavor.

Data Sources:
March 18, 1993 Assessment of SSF Budget
McDonnald Douglas (MDA) 533, March 1993, for SSF WP-2
Space Station Definition and Preliminary Design Phase Cost Document (DR-09)
      - McDonnel Douglas
      - Rockwell International
DEC 8, 1986 JSC Space Station Cost Commitment Briefing
Cost Actuals from Space Shuttle Orbiter Development
MSFC Space Station Cost Model CER's (PRC)
Cost Estimates

Aft Cargo Carrier
      Skirt & P/L support structure 23
      Shroud 18
      DeOrbit System 40
      Avionics/Attitude Cntrl Electronics 36
      GN&C 74
      Comm & Tracking 88
      Software/Firmware 60
      Data Mngt System 120
      Power/Thermal 652
      RCS 242
Propulsion Modules 361
ET Scarring 32
Adaptor Collar 48
Docking Mast/Cupola 214
ACRV Docking Port/Airlock 69
ACRV [140]
Crew Module Distributed Systems 434
Crew Hab & Lab 315
Industrial Airlock 292
Centrifuge 311

Sub-Total $3429

      SE&I 186
      Test & Verification 72
      Mission Ops 33
      KSC Processing 24
      Power (LeRC) 54
      MSFC 19

Sub-Total $388
Total $3817

      $3.8 Billion

1.0 Initial Flight

Aft Cargo Carrier (ACC) Overview. The ACC is integrated to the External Tank at KSC. Systems checks are performed as well as applicable subsystem outfitting with appropriate hardware attachments and connections. The ACC configuration meets the requirements of Vol. X 07700 for integrated system induced environments. Impacts to the GN&C (Guidance Nav. & Control) of the SSP is within the capability of the FCS (Flight Control Sys.) and DAP(Digital Auto Pilot) for the Orbiter and integrated stack. Ascent Trajectory requirements will be within the standard operational requirements. Additional cables (telemetry/control) will be routed from the ACC, through the vacant ports on the ET electrical mono-ball, and into the Orbiter. Orbiter will have the capability for stand-alone control of the ACC, independent from the Ground Ops Center (GOC). Post MECO, orbit circularization will be accomplished with the Orbiter OMS.

ACC Subsystem Deployment. Orbiter will perform an Operational Readiness Test (ORT) on selected systems in the ACC. Confirmation of ORT will be followed by Orbiter initiation of the GEODE GN&C and the auto-deployment sequence (with staged interrupts) for the other major systems (solar arrays, thermal radiators, W, S & Ku-band communications).

ET/Orbiter Separation. GEODE separation from Orbiter will occur with the ET in a gravity gradient mode with the aft end of the ACC oriented along nadir. Power will be provided up to this point will be via the Orbiter power bus feeding through the electrical mono-ball to charge ACC on-board batteries. The Orbiter will perform an RMS deployment of the GEODE adapter collar while still attached to the External Tank, taking advantage of the combined masses for the operation.

Post Separation. A minimum number of orbital revolutions will be utilized for the above activities so as to hold altitude decay (from aero-drag) to the least amount possible. Orbiter OMS will continue to be utilized for orbital decay make-up (the OMS/RCS load will be appropriately adjusted). Orbiter and the GOC will have control of the active GEODE GN&C system which will be slaved to the Command Authority of the Orbiter RCS/ACS until separation, whereupon it will be independent to on-board ACC GN&C sensors, with over-ride/update capability from both the GOC and Orbiter. Upon ET/Orbiter separation the Orbiter will move to an observation position trailing the GEODE, allowing it to cusp towards a standard orbital posture prior to reentry and also allowing for circumferential observation of the fully deployed GEODE.

ACC GN&C. As the Control Moment Gyros are completely spun-up prior to separation from Orbiter, and the GEODE is in its gravity gradient posture, augmented by the 100K lbs. of structure with a natural frequency of 22Hz, there will not be any notable orientation change through the subsystem deployment sequences. Battery power will be sized appropriately to cover the entire duration of deployment with additional conservative margin. Thermal loads will be gradual due to the shape and size of the GEODE with further supplementation through the deployment sequence occurring from the ET's Sprayed On Foam Insulation TPS on both the ET acreage and the ACC. Radiator deployment will be accommodated later in the sequence, allowing higher priority items to occur initially (power & communications).

Contingency. If control of GEODE is determined to be unacceptable, or a major deployment fails and places the GEODE in an irretrievable operational posture, the on-board de-orbit unit in the ACC will be GOC activated for mission termination with an acceptable debris footprintfor the ET.

Mission Phase Completion. Upon final Orbiter departure, the GEODE will have a suite of fully deployed subsystems for GN&C, thermal, power and command/communication capability (sized for final configuration/operational requirements). It will be in a gravity-gradient posture with operational independent solar-inertial photo-voltaic arrays that will support the following build-up flights (4:four) and be fully controlled by the GOC.
2.0 Final Configuration (Overview)

Proximity Operations Profile. The Orbiter will dock with the GEODE in a "heads-up" fashion, with earth below the flight formation (earth will appear in the Orbiter over-head windows and the aft section of Orbiter will head into the velocity vector). Hard dock will be accomplished with the articulated docking collar and support structure that is designed to mitigate Orbiter alignment errors (clocking angle and planarity deviations). Upon final structural coupling between Orbiter and GEODE the Orbiter FCS/DAP will be placed in a reserve state (star-trackers & IMUs powered and operational) with the RCS disabled. Command Authority will reside with the GEODE GN&C system that has accounted for the addition of the Orbiter mass by translating the articulated prop-modules to the calculated CG for the integrated configuration of the two systems (Orbiter & GEODE).

Docking. The actual docking process is facilitated by the 180-degree viewing cupola, the optical alignment reticule (in conjunction with the trajectory control sensor) and the supplemental visual closing trajectory enunciator system (similar to USN carrier landing systems). Tuned corner reflectors will be situated on the docking collar to combat blooming affects from the main structure of the GEODE as well as providing a known reference point for the rendezvous radar onboard Orbiter. The cupola design is driven by both performance and cost. The reduction in view ports corresponds directly to the approach corridor that the Orbiter takes for docking. As the cusp maneuver for rendezvous will occur at a distance that will not provide intelligence to the un-aided human eye, final approach is determined to be the most critical and provide the most value-added information towards a successful docking. The cupola does contain an optical periscope that is used for survey of the GEODE for Operational Readiness Assessment (ORA) as well as for aiding the transfer of the CIPAP Pallets/Modules (P/M) and other payloads from the Orbiter to either the P/M alignment & guide-rail or the Cargo & Logistics transfer platform (CLTP) for interim storage. The CLTP provides a mission assurance capability as it enables complete off-load of the Orbiter in a minimal amount of time. If Orbiter is required to separate due to a contingency situation or because of Operational constraints, the entire payload will have been off-loaded. This results in an unburdened Orbiter for landing Operations and meets the support requirements of the GEODE.

GEODE/Orbiter Alignment. Facilitating the Docking is the articulated receiving port that mitigates Orbiter/GEODE alignment errors by having the capability to properly clock the Orbiter in-plane (payload bay directly in line with Cargo/Logistics Transfer Platform) as well as account for planarity excursions (absolute alignment of both Z axis') between the two.

Pallet/Module Transfer. The P/M will be transferred with either the Orbiter RMS or the GEODE RMS. Cupola communications will be via hard-line and/or S-band. Visual coverage of the transfer process will be through Closed Circuit TV (mounted above the Industrial Airlock Door), optical periscope and full spatial observation through the cupola view ports. Lighting is supplied on GEODE for the Orbiter payload bay as well as for the CLTP. No EVA is required for any of the transfer of operations. After the P/M is confirmed to properly integrated on the alignment and guide-rail it is autonomously translated to the interior of the Industrial airlock by one of two methods. The primary mode if for the P/M sled to be motored into the Industrial airlock (IA) by a powered acme thread actuator; the sled simply follows the acme thread into the IA. The secondary method is for the GEODE RMS to push/move the P/M into the IA, utilizing the external CLTP CCTV and the internal IA CCTV. Contingency situations would be accomplished using EVA; access via the Back-up airlock. IA door operations, depressurization and repressurization are done autonomously. Atmospheric purge of the IA is into a bladder lined receiving tank which allows the system to be closed-loop. Individual thermal radiators are integrated into the IA module so that pump heat and electrical load can be immediately dumped. The P/M transfer process culminates with the exterior IA door closing, repressurization of the IA, and the opening of the interior door that leads to the GEODE production & manufacture area within the LO2 tank. The P/M now moves on a slide rail system, being disengaged from the acme thread actuator. Astronauts in the shirtsleeve environment produce the motive force to place the P/M on the vertical/elevation unit located on the core structure of the "Christmas Tree" utility column.

Integration and Check-out of the P/M into the manufacture and production area (interior of the LO2 tank) is the next sequence to be initiated. The P/M is linked to the "overhead" circular guide rail and moved to its designated location on the "Christmas Tree" structural support matrix.

Power Supply. The power grid will have provision for augmentation by either a solar-dynamic unit or radioactive-thermal generator (RTG) plant. This will allow for load switching between the available sources and also serve as a planned approached for dealing with the degradation of the solar arrays due to long on-orbit exposure. Ultimately, the solar arrays may be optioned for release at their End of Life, resulting in a substantial decrease in aero-drag and thereby improve the efficiency and lifetime of the Orbit Adjust/Reaction Control System. It should be recognized at this point that all power and telemetry cables (including spares) is pre-integrated into the ACC as well as the existing ET cable tray. A Pathway to the LO2 tank, Industrial Airlock, crew HAB area, Docking Port and ACRV will be established via the Adapter Collar attached on the first flight. Positive connection between the ET cable tray (power, telemetry, comm.) and the Adapter Collar will provide a central distribution center for later hook-up of the follow-on modules.

The Solar Dynamic Generator will be mounted on a solar inertial gimbal, similar to the alpha/beta joint combination of the solar arrays. Maximum incident solar energy is ensured as the reflector/collector will have drive commands supplied to the gimbal motors in order to avoid blockage by the centrifuge or ACC. The unit will be self contained with the pressure piping housed in a separate explosion containment vessel. Both hardware pieces will be capable of on-orbit replacement (the reflector will be locked in a benign orientation during the change-out). An adaptive optics capability will reside on the backside of the reflectors and between the primary sections (clam shell affect) for optimal focusing upon the thermal receiver head. As two separate thermal receiver heads are utilized (redundancy and/or power load requirements) the halves of the reflector base can be independently oriented for maximum efficiency. Rotation of turbo-generating hardware will be contrary to that of the Hab-Centrifuge, thereby avoiding perturbing forces being translated into the GN&C system.

Assured Crew Return Vehicle. The ACRV is positioned to be shielded by the ET from incident orbital debris. It is also able to disengage from the GEODE with a contrary velocity vector, quickly removing it from the immediate vicinity of a possibly crippled GEODE that may be dangerous. The thermal system for reentry receives the majority of radiant solar energy, so internal heat load requirements are greatly reduced. It is sized for the maximum compliment of GEODE plus Orbiter crews, enabling a genuine redundant crew return vehicle to result. Stand- alone orbit capability will reside onboard the ACRV so that the most advantageous reentry could result. The ACRV port can be expanded appropriate internal utility cabling existing in the access tunnel) to accommodate an additional vehicle. This option would provide for in-orbit translation between multiple GEODE platforms or for scheduled crew operations & product-delivery that would not be dependent on the Orbiter.

or, "If it is such a good idea, why doesn't NASA do it....?"

"Space Is Our Future!". This should be the tenet for the emerging generation that will provide the impetus for the next Industrial Revolution. It is a notion that is at the crossroads of decision and action. It suggests that space activities are going to influence our entire lives. Consequently, those who choose to embrace both the challenges and rewards of space activities (production capabilities, business and the increase of knowledge) will be the pioneers of the 21st century. They will open the totally unique environment of space to commerce and foster the development of exclusive and rewarding business opportunities.

However, very little is going to happen in space until it becomes more affordable and nearly routine to get there. Additionally, a low-cost and accommodating on-orbit support capability must also be in evidence, so that the "kitchen sink" (i.e. numerous support systems) isn't necessary for each payload placed in near earth orbit. It is saddening to note, however, that the resolve associated with today's space development activities would not have sustained the efforts and vision of Carnegie, Edison, Bell, Ford and Huntington. These pioneers overcame a host of absolute unknowns, along with the substantial obstacles of the established institutions that they were challenging.

The establishment of safe, reliable and cost effective transportation to earth orbit will certainly be a pivotal accomplishment towards the commercialization of space. Close at hand will be the discovery of dramatic new insights in the near earth space environment. These basic accomplishments will enable new products to be developed for the medical, materials, agricultural and electronics/communications industries. The near earth orbit region will then host a wide range of completely unique and totally exclusive manufacturing endeavors. Low cost transportation to large habitable volumes would ultimately yield the initiation of the tourism business. Space solar power stations would bring power to remote sections of the world today and eventually impact the reliance on the need to burn fossil fuels. World Wide point to point communication would become economical and available to even remote areas. All these dramatic lifestyle improvements become very real commercial possibilities with the advent of low cost transportation to orbit and the availability of genuine space production facilities.

This article outlines the reasons why these essential first steps are not being taken and what changes can and must be made in order to bring them about.


The American Space program began at the launching of the first Soviet satellite. Every beep of that first sputnik goaded the Americans into more action. The American resolve cemented the space program into our society. Politicians capitalized on the resolve and put the funding for the space program into the Appropriation Subcommittee for Independent Agencies. This made it possible to spread the funding for the space program as required to gain the most political favor and to help increase the budget rapidly. The space program was generously endowed with money at the outset. This, in addition to our nation's background in aeronautics, set the space program off to a good start. With an almost wartime fervor, the aeronautics companies attacked the space challenge and developed the aerospace industry. The development of space technology from the first sub-orbital flights through Mercury, Gemini and Apollo was massive and widespread.

There was a general agreement that the next step, after Apollo, involved a more permanent human presence in space. There developed an increasing pressure to build a space station. However, it was also agreed that the cost of access to space, using the existing Saturn launch system, was too high. The program needed an economical way to get back and forth to orbit. The Shuttle concept was proposed which included a small space station capability and as originally conceived, projected a cost to orbit that would be extremely low.

Each new project at NASA experienced more problems with political pressure. SKYLAB was the first extended duration human presence venture by the U.S. It was limited by reliance on the Apollo S1B and Command module, with their high cost and long processing timelines. By the time the Shuttle project was conceived, attainment of political support required that it meet the wishes of a very diverse group of interested parties (a.k.a. 'Customer Community'). Politically motivated changes compromised the Shuttle design, and by the time it became operational the cost for payload delivery was almost as high as the Saturn rocket used to launch Apollo. Fortunately, one saving feature was that the cost included a small space station/lab type capability, but with only brief periods of exposure to near earth space.


Today, the space program enjoys a developed technology base that is capable of doing almost anything in space that anyone might imagine. Reliable control of the enormous energy involved has been accomplished and the problem of accurate navigation in space has been mastered. Major advancements in Computer technology, new structural materials, unique manufacturing processes, closed loop life support systems, photo-voltaic and fuel cell electrical systems, elaborate systems for launch operations and real-time mission control have been utilized in today's space systems and have all come to full fruition.

So why is the space program "stalled out", so to speak? Why isn't it going anywhere? If low cost options for getting into space are on the near horizon, why aren't they being developed? Why is there only an International Space Station and not also Commercial Space Stations ? The answer to these questions is simple. The space program is being implemented by a Political institution -- our government. Overcoming the government political institutional effect is the challenge. This type of 'institution' is classically established for social purposes more than for productive purposes. Aerospace is no exception to the influence of an 'institution', especially one that is as powerful as our government. It too has succumbed under the burden of being an organizational institution; ultimately emphasizing policy and procedure over product.

The Political type institutions are not noted for accomplishing complex endeavors because, typically, there is no one individual with sufficient control and authority to make decisions and establish a defined course upon which to implement them. Decisions are therefore, almost of necessity, based more on compromise or external pressure than on analysis, logic or effectiveness.

The influence of the Political institution in the arena of high technology is to cause pursuit of the technical alternative that would continue to perpetuate the established sustaining disciplines and processes. Additionally, it is therefore no surprise that in technical/bureaucratic organizations, controlled by powerful Political Institutions, large complex programs become favored and tend to be dominated by the pursuit of advanced technology (with the inherent schedule uncertainties and cost overruns). This is not to discount the high value and merit of technology advancement. But it is to point out that there is a price to pay when programs are driven by the advance of technology and overly influenced by the requirements of a Political institution.

Over a period of time, the entire space program has requirements that have become basically "discipline-oriented" and has paid the price of that focus and orientation. Employees choose to align themselves with the institution because it can be depended upon to be there consistently (i.e., to have a budget year after year). Working on a project represents a hazardous career situation compared to working as a discipline-oriented employee of the bureaucratic/technical organization itself. As a result, the support for "projects" suffers. Slowly but surely, the focus of the organization is diverted from the project(s) and more emphasis is placed on technology development. The lack of progress on the old space station Freedom program is a valid demonstration of this.

The process of being diverted from the project goal begins with the pursuit of tasks that require knowledge and technologies that are beyond the existing state-of-the-art. This encourages the formation of groups of recognized experts. But there is another factor that accelerates the change of the focus to the "technology" and away from the "project"; the utilization of special contracting procedures.

The Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee (CPFF) contracting method was utilized early in the space program and is still in use today. Here is the essence of the CPFF: "since we really don't know how to solve this problem, we'll pay you a fair wage (plus a profit fee) to work on the problem until we can agree that the problem is solved, or until we collectively choose to give up". This was the predominant contracting arrangement for most aerospace contracts. It produced a situation where neither party to the contract is accountable for what happens. A modification to the basic CPFF is the CPIF (Cost Plus Incentive Fee) or the CPAF (Cost Plus Award Fee) . The CPIF has recently become the contracting arrangement of choice for some of the development-effort contracts within aerospace and DoD. Production contracts in which the applicable technology is well in hand continue to utilize the CPFF arrangement. Because of this, only with the introduction of strong, specific goals will progress become measurable in this type of environment. As a result, no headway is made unless there is some very basic motivation involved. In the case of Apollo, it worked well because there was a very specific, clearly defined and well supported goal -- landing on the moon and safely returning to the earth. Conversely, in the case of a new commode for the Shuttle the contracting methodology didn't work well at all. The prevailing environment surrounding space programs -- general lack of public interest, constant budget challenge, competition with other pressing national issues, lack of strongly supported goals -- limits the drive and commitment characteristic of the first 25 years of space activities. The result is that effective management of CPFF contracts is extremely difficult if not impossible. This contracting arrangement produces a frustrating working environment that further motivates employees to become more involved with the institution and to avoid the project arena.

Bureaucratic/Technical Organizations that are controlled by Political Institutions typically don't do simple tasks. The organization/institution tends to reject new proposed project(s) that do not fully employ its capabilities (i.e., disciplines). ALL bureaucratic institutions (Industry included) have great difficulty ending programs or closing departments when their goals have been reached or the need for their product is greatly diminished. Only in the last few years has industry realized that their futures depended on cutting overhead, become more selective in what it was engaged in, understood the meaning and value of quality and learned to listen and respond to its customer. The government, in its response to the demise of the Cold War (and disintegration of the Soviet Union) has clearly demonstrated how difficult it is for a bureaucratic institution to respond to change.

Another example is provided by the Swiss watch industry which developed a very well established approach to building time pieces, and ultimately dominated the world market. The process and the organization evolved into an institution. There was no doubt that Swiss watches would forever remain the accepted standard for personal time keeping. But one day, an engineer (a Swiss watch engineer) had an idea for an electric watch. The concept used the new electronic technology to theoretically yield a time piece that could be much more accurate and dependable, and for much less cost. The Swiss watch institution rejected the idea so completely that there was no patent of the idea, even for protection from someone else doing it. Texas Instruments and several Japanese electronic firms heard about it and the rest is history. Today the Swiss watch industry has a small percentage of the market share. A change in the Swiss watch industry never materialized. They still build timepieces the same way, but not so many of them. The aerospace institution is similarly encountering great difficulty in making the sweeping changes that will be required to support a vigorous commercial space program.

We must recognize and understand the opportunity at hand and act accordingly. A cost effective means to get into space and a robust space facility that is production-friendly are both clearly mandated for commercialization of space to proceed.


Space development must be removed from the existing control of the political institutional realm so that it can become more focused and proactive. NASA should continue as an independent agency of the government much like the military or the FAA, fulfilling the laudable functions of technical resource and performing leading edge advanced technology programs. For the development of Space to genuinely flourish, associated activities must be free from the cumbersome policies of the established bureaucratic institutions. The role of politics must be diminished and the impediment of total reliance upon public resources for funding removed.

The bottom line is that a complete reevaluation and restructuring of the relative responsibilities and relationships between the government and the aerospace industry is required. Will the existing government, military, aerospace industry suffer on account of the new commercial space industry? Perhaps, but there will still be a NASA, and new technology challenges will arise to occupy the present aerospace infrastructure. Some of these companies (and others outside of aerospace) will sense the opportunity that is at hand for commercial exploitation of technology developed by the government and will move into new business ventures. The aerospace industry can and will adjust to this new situation. The refocus of the present federal space program could be towards technology demonstration projects, deep space exploration, Lunar bases, Earth Resource Observations, or Mars missions. The government should continue with development of key enabling technologies and in scientific exploration and research. The latter because it is not clear that there are sufficient economic returns from scientific exploration to warrant the use of private capital. Both programs, commercial and government, have their function and are cooperative in nature while tending to augment each other.


The technology that the aerospace industry has developed for rockets is truly spectacular. A tremendous amount of scientific detail on earth orbit technology has been thoroughly analyzed and documented. There is a broad base of technology to support almost any activity in earth orbit, and by a number of different approaches. The issue now becomes one of determining which approach is the most cost effective and the most beneficial. Like the Swiss watch institution, the aerospace institution has consistently rejected all of the most cost effective application concepts proposed. Cost effectiveness under utilizes the institution's capabilities. Remember, true product engineering is the process of getting the "most bang for the buck" out of technology. The key to deriving cost effective systems is the application of somewhat standard economic analysis tools. Ingenuity and experience are then applied to reduce cost as much as practical. Petroleum refineries do this on a day-to-day basis. Power plants, airlines, package delivery companies, natural resource development companies and many others apply these techniques as standard procedure. Engineering in this context is a valuable and rewarding activity because it can provide so many benefits to so many people.

An opportunity is at hand to build upon the successes and failures of the past 35 years of space activities. The changes in the United States and its interests, as well as those of the world, require a new set of motivating requirements and a new way for doing business in space. The US industry, in its response to both the industrial challenges from abroad and to the end of the cold-war, has made tremendous improvements in its management, structure, quality, efficiency and productivity. The time has come to recognize that the relative roles of the government and industry in space activities must be changed.

It is time to realize that the absolutely unique environment of space harbors the potential for tremendous gains in knowledge and for the genuine realization of extraordinary Commercial Opportunities.

Aft Cargo Carrier
ASTRO mast
Autonomous deploying truss-type structure
Commercial/Industrial Process & Applications Platform
Center of Gravity
Control Moment Gyro
Designed Test Objective(s)
Extra-vehicular Manuvering Unit (space-suit)
External Tank
Guidance, Navigation & Control
Industrial Air Lock
Inertial Measurement Unit
Independent Reentry Capsule
International Space Station
Liquid Hydrogen
Liquid Oxygen
Micro Electro Mechanical System(s)
Mini Logistics Payload Module
Orbital Manuvering System
Payload Return Capsule
Reaction Control System
Manipulator System
Sprayed On Foam Insulation
Shuttle Program
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