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How many rockets do you need to build a base in orbit?


TommyJ
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Now we have the ISS and a bunch of satellites. They all work at different levels of orbit. But what if we assume that we can make one space station to replace most of the satellites? How astronomical are the numbers? The cost? The size? How many launches can it take to build?


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TommyJ
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Em. I realized that I was late with the question. It's easy to calculate if you look at the materials about the Gateway.
Also, I realized that it doesn't make sense. There is enough space in orbit for the current load. The rules of use will allow you not to increase the amount of space debris. And private companies in different parts of the world will make launches of small satellites from different latitudes more affordable. (By the standards of space launches).


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Gaius Konstantine
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Not to mention that many satellites rely on specific and different orbital positions to function properly. Communications satellites for example can not be located in the same place (a station) and function properly. 

Then there is the station itself. Are we talking about something crude like the ISS or something out of 2001? Then there is location to consider. If you don't want to be constantly adjusting orbit it should be placed at a Lagrange point... which I think is too far for satellites.

We need something better than the ISS in my opinion, but it's mission objective will have little to do with satellite replacement, and it would take many rockets, (SHLLV), to build one at tremendous cost. Should it be done? Yes in my opinion...will it be done? don't hold your breath.


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TommyJ
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I just wanted to fantasize about this topic. Of course, each satellite requires its own location. Some must be in geostationary orbit.
I think a research station with equipment would be a good idea. In future. Research in microgravity conditions is becoming popular. I have heard that it can help produce drugs without additives.


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Gaius Konstantine
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Oh I think it is a great topic to fantasise about and discuss, you get no argument from me. A research station or production facility for certain pharmaceuticals would make a lot of sense and offer tremendous dividends.


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TommyJ
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I found some articles somewhere in the space news UK. And then I got the idea to think about it. For some reason, following various links, I combined all the information and got a question about how many rockets are needed to build a space station. Although I was wondering exactly why research in microgravity is needed. Can't find a good explanation.


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Gaius Konstantine
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I found this, it may suffice as a catch-all explanation.

"While microgravity can be achieved for a few moments on an aircraft rounding the top of a parabolic flight, or simulated imperfectly in bioreactors on Earth, the best way to conduct experiments under sustained microgravity is to go to the ISS. The station orbits approximately 400 km from the planet’s surface and is close enough to Earth to experience about 90 percent of its gravitational pull, but astronauts aboard the station feel nearly weightless because it’s in constant free fall around the planet.  

The resulting microgravity conditions in this setting influence scientific experiments in many ways that appeal to drug developers. There are minimal convection currents in fluids, for instance, and hardly any sedimentation—conditions advantageous not only for LambdaVision’s layering procedure but also for processes such as protein crystallization, whereby proteins form a regular array. Under near weightlessness, “you get a [higher-quality] crystal than [what you’d get through] the crystallization process on Earth,” making certain proteins easier to study and more attractive as drugs, explains Marlise dos Santos, an aerospace pharmacy specialist at InnovaSpace, a UK-based think tank that promotes life science in space, among other activities related to extreme environments"

As to how many rockets are needed...

The ISS took over 30 missions to complete a scaled down version of the station. Initially, if memory serves, the proposal was for 100 missions to construct a more elaborate structure. Most of these missions were with the space shuttle, it's capacity was 

"The cargo/payload carrying capacity was limited by the 18.3-m- (60-ft)-long by 4.6-m- (15-ft)- wide payload bay. The cargo/payload weighed up to 29,000 kg (65,000 pounds), depending on the desired orbital inclination"

By contrast a super heavy launch vehicle should adhere to these parameters

"A super heavy-lift launch vehicle (SHLLV) is a launch vehicle capable of lifting more than 50 tonnes (110,000 lb) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO)"

So basically you would need about 20 of these to reconstruct the ISS. My guess then would be that a station as the ISS was originally envisioned, (or something grander), would be in excess of 70 missions. The number of rockets then is determined by how reusable they are.

I'm no expert mind you, just taking a good guess.


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