Submitted by -Major-Arcana- t3_11diz04 in space

So in the show they turn a space station into a large ship to travel to mars. There’s a certain logic to that, large habitable volume for a long trip, huge mass already in orbit, many of the necessary life support systems. Obviously need to add proposition, guidance and various other systems, but, er, couldn’t they saust boost the thing to mars and back?

Is it a feasible idea, or just fantasy?

Bonus question: could the take all the ISS modules and rearrange them into a ring with some new connector nodes, to spin for some pseudo gravity?



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the_fungible_man t1_ja8xg4y wrote

>Is it a feasible idea, or just fantasy?

Complete fantasy.


New_Poet_338 t1_ja92z1k wrote

It does not have the radiation shielding for radiation found outside near-earth orbit.


orbcat t1_ja8y3kn wrote

It's totally made up. Pure fabrication


Garper t1_jad2sah wrote

Absolute flimflam. Wouldn’t be possible.


Bewaretheicespiders t1_ja8xkvl wrote

The ISS has a terribly problematic cooling system. Sad, but I dont see any long term future for it.


Nibb31 t1_ja92nzf wrote

The advantage of For All Mankind spacecraft is that none of them has any cooling system at all. Vital components such as antennas, solar panels, or radiators don't exist in the FAM universe. Some ships don't even carry fuel, which is quite convenient also.


Bewaretheicespiders t1_ja93s0a wrote

Never heard of it before TBH.


Nibb31 t1_ja94oev wrote

All spacecraft need radiators because their systems generate heat and you need some way to shed that heat into space. Since convection and ventilation don't work in a vacuum, the only method is radiation.

The need for massive radiators is even greater if you are using nuclear rockets, as those generate massive amounts of heat.


Bewaretheicespiders t1_ja95j4f wrote

I meant I never heard of "For All Mankind" before today. Heat transfer equations I understand :)


seanflyon t1_jadmu15 wrote

It's an alternative history science fiction show. It starts with the Soviet Union being first to land on the moon and America increasing efforts on the Apollo program.

I really liked the first season. It is still clearly fiction, but they focused on making it as realistic as possible. After that they stopped caring about imagining an alternate history that makes sense and instead focused on personal drama.


DanInBham1 t1_ja8xepd wrote

You should read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. ISS gets turned into a ship and they create artificial gravity. Great book. Underrated and underread.

And the moon blows up


niallo_ t1_ja91evp wrote

I really really hated the President in that book!


clpatterson t1_ja970cp wrote

I read 7/8ths of it. Once the time jump happened, it didn't even seem like the same book and I couldn't get invested in why I should care about that act of the story considering how few pages were left in the book. I just kind of set it down and never picked it back up.


DanInBham1 t1_ja9bqna wrote

The last part is definitely a totally different story. I ended up really liking it though. It does get really technical about explaining some of the technology. But I thought it was really interesting the way he played with social and cultural evolution.


wilcan t1_ja98374 wrote

I felt the same way but ended up enjoying the far future world even more. I want him to write novels describing the other tribes’ experience through the calamity.


DanInBham1 t1_ja9bwax wrote

I agree. I would love to read some short stories about the other survivors.


wilcan t1_ja97vii wrote

To be fair, Stephenson had them add an entirely new module with a rotating ring that attached to a reconfigured ISS. He didn’t add artificial gravity to the existing ISS.


DanInBham1 t1_ja9cum9 wrote

With the bolos they tethered modules together and made them do somersaults to create gravity. I don’t remember if they used existing modules or not. But you are correct. There were two tori connected to the ISS that had gravity. The ISS as a whole didn’t have artificial gravity.


RowKiwi t1_ja8xlt6 wrote

It would be cheaper to send up all new modules and build from scratch. The poor old ISS is getting really old, many systems are at end of life, there are cracks in some vital areas, and nothing in it was designed to handle spin.


dingo1018 t1_ja9mqvn wrote

And a few decades of feet, many of them Russian, I think re entry would be the kindest thing for the old girl. Not right away of course, but someday not to far in the future she deserves a Viking funeral. Although I would like to see the whole thing preserved if possible, I don't know if an orbit transfer and mothballing could work, maybe a gas station for starships.


ricardo9505 t1_ja8wkbh wrote

For exploratory purposes seems like a waste of money and time. Scout drones , ships would pick up habitable places. Build ships on a station to send out. I mean if you eventually have the chance to colonize a habitable planet you're gonna need a lot of resources.


A40 t1_ja8z8c7 wrote

Sure, and with present tech (and a hundred billion dollars), we could get the ISS up to a velocity that might reach Mars just a few years after all its life support failed :-)


thawed_froyo t1_ja90nn2 wrote

The structure was not designed to handle any acceleration beyond minor adjustments. The amount of retrofitting required to handle the kinds of acceleration needed for interplanetary hops would greatly exceed the cost of all-new construction.


TacTurtle t1_ja8y0p2 wrote

Fantasy and no, the ISS structurally could not withstand sufficient rotation to create useful gravity.

Project Orion would be a comparatively more practical interplanetary vessel, and the propulsion in Orion is best described “external nuclear pulse detonation” which gives you an idea of how practical converting the ISS would be.


DevilsRefugee t1_ja8zctw wrote

Given human physiology is utterly useless for long term space travel and the ISS would probably shake apart under the thrust needed to send it anywhere at a decent pace, then nah it's fantasy.


DirtSetherson t1_ja91t0s wrote

I too love the sort of NASA punk aesthetic you get in for all mankind or the Martian but realistically it's a lot smarter to take what we've learnt from the ISS and improve on it.


-Major-Arcana- OP t1_ja97ban wrote

Ok so supplementary question: assuming a mars ship would be modular construction assembled on earth orbit… what have we learned from the ISS that would be done differently?


RowKiwi t1_ja9g5gq wrote

One big lesson from the ISS is to put as many systems as possible on the inside, instead of needing spacewalks to service anything. The ISS has a lot of systems on the outside and they are almost impossible to work on and maintain. Another big thing is inflatable modules for much larger volume.


Reddit-runner t1_jackijz wrote

You somehow have to slow down at Mars.

Either you need a lot of propellant for that which you also have to accelerate towards Mars in the first place, or you need a big heat shield.

If you insist on a modular system for the station, but you want to utilise a heatshield anyway because that's just far less mass than propellant, then you need to cluster your modules closer than on the ISS. You then can build the heat shield kinda like a surfboard.

As others have said: the ISS predominantly tough us to put as many systems on the inside for ease of maintenance. This and non-toxic cooling fluids. Because stuff will leak.

But when you engineer your way through all those steps and problems and try to optimise things you quickly realise you actually want something like Starship. Big volume, easy to build, integrated heat shield, enormous tanks.


BuldopSanchez t1_ja9alap wrote

I could be wrong, but I believe it would need to be strengthened structurally to handle the thrust. Then there's going to be a need for some kind of shielding to ward off debris.


majorbraindamage t1_jaa29hb wrote

Probably not a good idea. It's old and has been stressed under pressure and the electronics exposed to cosmic rays for a long time. A mission to Mars should be a mission specific craft that is fresh and likely to not break down millions of miles from home with no help available. A manned mission to Mars has to go right the first time, or risk losing public support.


Gorrium t1_jaaaf7o wrote

Could you? yes, probably, but it would be so expensive and difficult it probably wouldn't be worth it.

First the ISS doesn't have a lot of living space, probably too cramped for a long mission. Second it has no radiation shielding, which would be big, heavy and expensive to retrofit. Third, it's old and you should probably repair and upgrade it before sending it to Mars. Fourth, it would need a new engine and massive fuel tank. Fifth, it doesn't have enough electricity production for deep space, so it would need more solar panels or a nuclear reactor. Sixth, its in the wrong orbit, it's or it was picked to make it easier for Russia and Japan to send payloads to it, it's very inclined. (I think, I'm not so great at orbital mechanics.)


Imaginary_Variation7 t1_jabf68z wrote

FANTASY, fantasize, fantasizing, fantastical, with a nice cold Fanta for when it gets hot outside.


Sir-Realz t1_ja93jb8 wrote

Might be possible, but the thrust would have to be extremely weak and long im not aware of any rocket engine that has bruned that long say arohnd 20hours and would take years, to reach Mars probably unmanned and of corse its old and unreliable but plasable. The moon might be a better destination. That could probabaly be manned.


-Major-Arcana- OP t1_ja95wn6 wrote

Don’t ion thrusters deliver weak but long thrust?


Dr_Catfish t1_ja96v23 wrote

Ion thrusters exist, sure, but their thrust is so minimal I doubt you'd be able to overcome Earth's gravity in any reasonable time, if at all.


Sir-Realz t1_ja99bvf wrote

I would propose hyperbolic booster fired in stages and then a fission thruster to do the heavy lifting once the station was a comfortable distance from earth for the radioactive exhaust not to radiate the entire planet. Ion may have a future but would probably require a fission reactor to power it anyway. but I don't think they have even tested them in space yet. One was supposed to ride on the artimis launch but failed.