Just a (not so) quick update. Here are some 3D sketches for a helium 3 refinery station, an orbital colony and a new Lobo.
The H3 refineries are small manned outposts in low Jupiter orbit. They’re effectively skyhooks that suck helium 3 out of Jupiter’s atmosphere through a thousands of kilometer-long hose and store it for use in fusion reactors. The Jupiter refineries compete with H3 mines on Luna and asteroids. They’re quite a bit farther away from Earth and the colonies than the asteroid belt, but they have the advantage of not having to refine tons of regolith for kilos of H3.
The operation is largely automated, so the crew doesn’t need to be that large. The crew lives in the rotating wheel and supervise and maintain the operation. The spiderweb structure that surrounds the station generates a powerful magnetic field that protects the crew from Jupiter’s own highly energetic field, which produces an impressive aurora.
I’m still figuring out where to put the H3 storage tanks and the docking collar. Smaller boats like the Lobo need to dock directly with the station in order to transfer crew and supplies, but the tankers do not. I need to decide if its better to transfer the actual tanks or to use a pump and nozzle system to transfer the gas. The tanks don’t need to be all that large, since most fusion reactors don’t really need to produce insane amounts of electricity. The reactors on Earth, Mars and the orbital colonies largely supplement solar power generation, so a little fuel goes a long way.
The orbital colonies are of the type imagined by Gerard O’Neill as the Island Three type. It’s basically a long spinning tube with a habitable interior. This style has two counter-rotating sections that keep the colony from spinning out of control. (Smaller rotating stations like the refineries can use gyroscopes to hold position.) O’Neill himself imagined a pair of counter-rotating Island Three stations attached at their tips to keep station, but somehow that seems even more complicated that what I have.
he rings at the end of the hab section are for agriculture. The usual Island Three illustrations show tend to have a single huge ring, but that seems like a terrible design to me. Unless it rotated separately, it would have crushing gravity, not to mention a hell of a time getting goods to and from the main station. My solution is to have a series of agriculture rings directly attached to and rotating at the same rate of the rest of the colony. The large disk at the end is a solar collector that uses fiber optics to pump the sunlight to the interior of the agriculture rings. I haven’t done the math yet to determine how big the collector needs to be to equal the interior surface of the rings, so it might get bigger or smaller.
There are also going to be three mirrors on the main hab section that direct sunlight into the interior. I need to do math again to figure out how long the mirrors need to be to illuminate the whole thing. This also means I get to build big-ass windows into the mesh and model the interior space. Power is generated through a combination of solar, fusion and thermal (as heat gets “pushed” from the sun-facing tip to the farthest tip).
The counter-rotating section includes heavy industry, manufacturing, the fusion reactors and the docking bay. The dock is at the extreme end of the station. I need to figure out how big it is and how large a ship can dock there. It needs detail on the sides, so a large, non-rotating dock should fit in nicely there, as well as the heat radiators. These need to be out of the sunlight.
And here’s a quick shot of both of these guys together, just to give a sense of scale.
That’s a huge bitch!
And last but not least, some more Lobo. I took the same mesh as before and moved the wings to the top, and changed the spine from an innie to an outie. I am so not going to be able to use this geometry, but it gives me ideas of where I want to go.
I’m going with a blended wing, hypersonic, Osprey-in-space thing for this boat. The nose, spine, wings and tail are all going to be one piece, with the modular cargo section “hanging” from the spine underneath and aft of the wings. The bigger, “go fast” grav pods are still attached to the wingtips, and the plasma jets get stuck to the tail. The hump will be a bit more pronounced than here and I think I’ll angle the wings more downward.
All in all, I think I had a successful Sunday evening!