Thursday, June 28, 2007

Orbital Squatting in the Name of Science

Here's my "Wild Goof Chase" for today.

I read online that NASA has changed their policy on using the ISS for research. Basically, if you can pony up the $ 20 million plus to get there yourself, the use of the facilities is free.

It says nothing about having to pay to get back to Earth. Or even going back to Earth for that matter. Imagine being a permanent citizen squatter in orbit in the name of science.

So in order to do this, I'm thinking a tricky " Pierre LeGrande meets Buckaroo Banzai " routine is in order.

In a break of thought from every space venture of the last 20 plus years, launch a completely expendable WYSIWYG spacecraft. My guess is it would be easier on you if you launched by dropping it out the back of an Antonov @ 30K feet. Hit the first stage engine(s) a la X-15 to get it to around an altitude100 miles, Stabilize the orbit for a prelim systems check for the next act, which is a 2nd stage burn that kicks it up to 250 miles.

Figure the shuttle & Soyuz craft take approx. two days to catch up to ISS from launch. So in the name of margin say the total life cycle of the throw-away spacecraft can be three days.

When you match orbits & are in rendevous range, maneuver with the ACS to the main US airlock, go EVA with ( ultralight ) research gear in hand. Then literally kick the spacecraft away from the ISS to both avoid any collision mishaps & give you the impetus to propel towards the airlock.

After that just ring the doorbell. I think ettiqutte demands you bring gifts. Then once you're in, you get to work!

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