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Introduction to Space Technology & the Development of the Modern Space Station [STEM Resource Series]

Space technology encompasses the technology required to access space and operate in space. It is a broad set of disciplines that specialize on various facets of space engineering, operations and exploration.

The disciplines may sound rather non-space like yet medical doctors, computer scientists, meteorologists, and many others all contribute
to successful space technologies.

Most people recognize aerospace engineers as being the most common contributors to space technology, yet most engineering disciplines contribute to space engineering and research.

 

Space stations require many kinds of engineers and scientists to assist in their development. For example, metallurgists and materials engineers work with structural engineers and systems engineers to select the best materials for the type of spacecraft or space station.

Space stations can be made from lightweight metals such as aluminum or titanium, but more and more they are made from composites, fabrics and carbon fibers. Many envision future space stations to be deployed as a folded structure or inflate like a balloon once they are in orbit. Others are designing space stations that deploy like drawers in a telescope extending to create larger compartments. Still others are working to create self-assembling space stations that will use a 3D printer to build compartments as needed.


Above: The International Space Station developed by NASA has modules form many different nations. It is the largest space station deployed at nearly one million pounds and over three-hundred and fifty feet wide.


The Goodyear Aerospace developed this toroid or donut shaped inflatable space station concept in 1961.

Above: Inflatable concept developed by Transhab for NASA/JSC. Left: The Automated Orbital Platform developed by Aerospace Research Systems, Inc. (ARSI) in the late 1990's to support modular payloads for commercial operators. The ARSI platform could function as a free flyer or be assembled in multiple units using simple beams and trusses.

 

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