Encyclopedia Astronautica
Modularised Space Station

Modular Station 1972
MSFC Modular Station 1972
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
Modular Station 1971
Rockwell Modular Station 1971
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
Modular Station 1971
Modularised Space Station
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
Modular Station 1971
McDonnell Douglas Modular Station 1971
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
1969 Modular Station
Modularised Space Station
Credit: NASA
American manned space station. Study 1972. Space station design of 1972 using modules sized for transport in the Space Shuttle payload bay. could be carried inside the Shuttle orbiter payload bay.

NASA hoped to launch such a space station in 1978, but the budget crunch forced the project to be delayed until it emerged again as the bloated International Space Station in the 1990's.

In view of the suspension of Saturn V production, alternative launch approaches and station configurations were investigated by NASA and its contractors in the 1970-1972 period. These included the combination of an expendable upper stage like the Saturn S-II or S-IVB mounted on the then-planned Shuttle recoverable booster to retain the potential to orbit monolithic core space stations. After the shuttle go-ahead Congress and President Nixon's Office of Management and Budget indicated they were prepared to pay for only one project at a time. Studies then moved to station concepts where the core was modularized so that it could be carried inside the Shuttle orbiter payload bay. These 4.5-meter diameter modules would then be assembled into a cluster in orbit with the same functional capability as the monolithic station concepts. In these configurations, it proved advantageous to use floors arranged parallel rather than perpendicular to the cylinder axis. The North American Rockwell and McDonnell-Douglas space station study contracts were extended until January 1972 to cover modular space station work. NASA was still hoping to launch a smaller space station in 1978, but the budget crunch soon forced the agency postpone its space station plans to the 1980s. When all Saturn V production capability was irrevocably lost in the early 1970's, these studies formed the basis of what would later be the International Space Station.


Crew Size: 12. Electric System: 25.00 average kW.

Gross mass: 200,000 kg (440,000 lb).
Span: 4.60 m (15.00 ft).

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Associated Countries
See also
  • US Space Stations Wernher von Braun brought Noordung's rotating station design with him from Europe. This he popularized in the early 1950's in selling manned space flight to the American public. By the late 1950's von Braun's team favoured the spent-stage concept - which eventually flew as Skylab. By the mid-1960's, NASA was concentrating on modular, purpose-built, zero-G stations. These eventually flew as the International Space Station. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Shuttle American winged orbital launch vehicle. The manned reusable space system which was designed to slash the cost of space transport and replace all expendable launch vehicles. It did neither, but did keep NASA in the manned space flight business for 30 years. Redesign of the shuttle with reliability in mind after the Challenger disaster reduced maximum payload to low earth orbit from 27,850 kg to 24,400 kg. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • North American American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. North American, Palmdale, El Segundo. Downey, CA, USA More...
  • McDonnell American manufacturer of spacecraft. McDonnell, St Louis, USA. More...

  • Larmore, L and Gervais, R L, Editors, Space Stations - Volume 27 - Advances in the Astronautical Sciences, AAS Publications Office, Tarzana, 1971.

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