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Von Braun Station

Von Braun station

Von Braun station
Space station as sketched by Von Braun for the US Army in 1946.

American manned space station. Study 1945. In the first 1946 summary of his work during World War II, Wernher von Braun prophesied the construction of space stations in orbit.

Status: Study 1945.

The design, a toroidal station spun to provide artificial gravity, would be made very familiar to the American public over the next six years. The design was elaborated at the First Symposium on Space Flight on 12 October 1951 at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. The design was popularized in the series in Colliers magazine, illustrated with gorgeous Chesley Bonestell painting, in 1952.

The 1946 version used 20 cylindrical sections, each about 3 m in diameter and 8 m long, to make up the toroid. The whole station was about 50 m in diameter and guy wires connecting and positioning the toroid to the 8 m-diameter central power module. This was equipped with a sun-following solar collector dish to heat fluid in a ball-shaped device. The heated fluid would run an electrical generator. Presumably visiting spacecraft would dock or transfer crew at the base of the power module. Two narrow transfer tubes allowed the crew to move between the living and work quarters in the toroid and the power module.

In the 1952 version as described by Willy Ley, the station was enlarged to 75 m diameter and housed 80 crew. The station's toroid was no longer made of cylindrical sections, but was a smooth donut-shape of inflatable sections made of reinforced rubber. The station would embody much new technology, and would take at least ten years to develop and build after go-ahead. The station would rotate to produce 1 G of artificial gravity at the crew levels. The outermost level would be dedicated to utilities (ducts, wiring, and piping of the water distribution and balance system). There would be two full-height living and working levels. Small space taxis would be used to move from docking ports at the center of the rotating station to arriving space shuttles, and to conduct assembly operations of moon- or Mars-bound spacecraft near the station. Sections of the station would be dedicated to communications (space-to-space and space-to-earth), meteorology, terrestrial and military observations, a digital computer (expected to be much reduced in mass and power requirements from its 1952 contemporaries!), environmental control and water purification equipment. A metal meteoroid shield, set out 3 cm from the station's outer surface, would protect the station's inflated plastic torus.

The station would be in a 1730-km circular 2-hour orbit (this orbit was later found to be within the then-unexpected Van Allen radiation belts and therefore unusable by a manned spacecraft). The orbit would be pseudo-sun-synchronous, coasting along the terminator, perpetually in sunshine as the earth revolved below it. The space taxis would be used to adjust the orbit daily to keep it in this position throughout the year. The sun-facing side of the station would be equipped with a solar concentrator trough, parabolic in cross section, which would heat tubes containing mercury, that would drive a turbine to generate electricity, then be cooled, condensed, and pumped back to the concentrator. A nuclear reactor power source was ruled out on grounds of weight, and the fact it would also require a thermal generator circuit of similar or greater complexity. The solar generator was rated at 1660 kW thermal to produced 500 kW of electrical power. The mercury would be heated to 700 deg C and a pressure of 50 kg/sq cm.

The station would have a total volume of 18,400 cubic meters, normally requiring 24 metric tons of a nitrogen/oxygen air mixture for pressurization. Use of a helium/oxygen atmospheric mixture would reduce the total mass of atmosphere aboard the station to 16 metric tons and also eliminate the risk of bends in case of depressurization. The crew of 80 persons would normally require 110 kg of oxygen per day. Use of blue green algae to convert the carbon dioxide exhaled by the crew to oxygen would nearly eliminate the oxygen resupply requirement. The algae tanks to accomplish this would have to have a total of 23 square meters exposed surface, be 3 cm deep, and contain one liter of algae and three liters of water per square meter.

Exhaled and urinated water would also be purified and reused. All of these measures would reduce resupply requirement s to 225 kg per day for the entire 80-man crew. Reserve supplies for 6 to 8 weeks would be replenished and kept aboard at all times. In case daily shuttle service was interrupted by an attack at the launch base on Christmas Island, as little as three launches every four months, each with a 33 metric ton payload, would be sufficient to resupply the station.

Crew Size: 80.

Family: Space station, Space station orbit, USA - Space Stations. People: von Braun. Country: USA. Launch Vehicles: V-2. Bibliography: 16.
Photo Gallery

1946 Station1946 Station
Close-up of cutaway section of space station as sketched by Von Braun for the US Army in 1946.

1945 - During the year - . LV Family: V-2. Launch Vehicle: A9/A10/A11, A9/A10/A11/A12.
1946 During the Year - .
1949-1952 - .
1951 October 12 - .

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