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nednobbins t1_jadvzyf wrote

Just how modular is this thing actually?

I initially imagined some small space station with a few interchangeable parts.

Then I read, "The multi-functional expansion module will host six docking ports". That's just 2 short of what ISS has. Is this something that can just keep growing like some video game space station simulator?


ForgiLaGeord t1_jaeaxhv wrote

It's been assembled out of many self-contained modules launched separately, just like the ISS, so it seems like it should be pretty open to reconfiguration and expansion.


nednobbins t1_jaelc5r wrote

Yeah. I'm wondering how scalable that is.

I had initially assumed that the sort of infinite scalability you see in video games is just for video games and that in an actual space station you would run into some practical considerations that keep you from just adding modules indefinitely.

Now I'm starting to doubt that assumption.


SteveMcQwark t1_jaex0wr wrote

On the one hand, you don't have gravitational loading for the most part (there's some because of various forces that get applied to a space station during operation, but not at the level you'd have on the ground). However, you can get structural oscillations which behave somewhat differently than they do on the ground, as well as various torques that get applied throughout operation. And because of weight considerations during launch, space structures are often made of aluminum, which doesn't have a fatigue limit, so it will weaken over time even for minor stresses. You hear about fractures being found in the walls of Russian ISS modules because of this. These effects get worse as you scale up a structure.


nednobbins t1_jaezmpx wrote

That all makes sense and I did expect that there were some practical limits I hadn’t thought.

It sounds like there are but they may be higher than I had first guessed.


Regenereatior_88 t1_jaef1kq wrote

How long will the ISS be operational? Tiangong will be active to 2030 and perhaps a couple years after that. If the ISS is retired after 2025, will the Axiom station be available by then?


mDk099 t1_jaeguq7 wrote

Plan is for axiom station to start off as a part of ISS, then separate when ISS is to be decomissioned. There would not be a gap between the operational two periods