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Move the ISS

The next orbit
  [vote for,

Move the International Space Station out to Lagrangian point 1 in the Earth/Moon system. It would require only a little more fuel to get to it and back, so development could continue normally. It would require less fuel for the ISS to maintain orbit at L1 than it requires for it to maintain the orbit it’s in now.

From L1 we could make numerous meaningful and productive trips to the Moon, steer clear of much orbital debris, benefit from the experiments conducted at a more realistic ‘0G’, and put Lance Bass even farther away from Earth.

Shz, Dec 23 2002

Another Lagrange link http://www.cpac.fre...k/docs/lagrange.htm
scroll to bottom for diagram containing all 5 points. [st3f, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

More Newtonian Mechanics http://www.physics....rnish/lagrange.html
With classical references [DenholmRicshaw, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

What is space radiation http://srag-nt.jsc....tSRAG/What/What.htm
[madradish, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       I am very interested in this idea but rather than go and research it myself could you perhaps provide a link explaining 'L1'?
Ludwig, Dec 23 2002

       L1, L2 and L3 are unstable (on a timescale of 23 days - see link).
L4 and L5 (the home of the Trojans) are stable.
DenholmRicshaw, Dec 23 2002

       Besides the enormous quantity of fuel needed to get there:   

       1. The ISS uses essentially no fuel to stay in its current orbit, as there is almost no atmospheric drag even in low Earth orbit.   

       2. There would be no significant difference between the microgravity experienced in low Earth orbit and the microgravity experienced at L1.   

       In fact, to keep the ISS at L1 might even take MORE fuel than to keep it in a nice, stable low Earth orbit.
magnificat, Dec 23 2002

       The ISS was designed to be where it is, i.e. to provide a research and tasting lab (among other things) for *low earth* orbit. Many of the activities undertaken at the ISS involve looking down at/monitoring conditions on earth. These would obviously be much less doable if the ISS was moved to L1. Quite aside from IV's correct observation that the shuttle can't make it that far.   

       Eventually building space stations at Lagrange points makes a lot of sense, but they would have different objectives and thus different designs. ISS was designed for LEO and it should stay there (-).
madradish, Dec 23 2002

       Let me clarify a bit… I didn’t mean to imply that there’s any fuel savings here, only that the existing configuration of the ISS does not need to be upgraded to maintain a L1 position. This idea (as a whole) uses much more fuel.   

       Correct, we can not use the shuttle. We need something new. Yes – expensive.   

       [madradish], I would argue that we have a wealth of ‘stuff’ monitoring Earth - more every month it seems, and the ISS is well suited for L1 even though that isn’t what it was originally designed for.   

       Also, I don’t think any of us are going to live long enough to see the day an actual space station is at any Lagrangian point unless we do this. Perhaps I’m just impatient, but I would sure love to see it happen.
Shz, Dec 23 2002

       Replace the Space Shuttle? But it's the best Gemini rocket so far (lands instead of splashing down - woo hoo).   

       In the words of the Space Frontier Foundation, "Thirty-six years after sending John Glenn into orbit, NASA has finally achieved the capability to send John Glenn in to orbit."
rowlycat, Dec 24 2002

       Shz, yes we have many satellites observing earth but they are not manned. A large part of the studies undertaken in the ISS (meteorology, remote sensing, etc) depend on the earth being close at hand.   

       The ISS could possibly be moved (gently) to a Lagrange point, but would the benefits really be worth it? For a start, missions to other places (moon, mars etc) wouldn't benefit much in terms of location. On orbit construction (a major purpose of the ISS) would be hampered by increased fuel costs/requirement and thus reduced payload capacity.   

       I agree (much as I hate to) that a successor to the shuttle is needed, however this is not going to happen really soon and even when it does it's also likely to be a low orbit workhorse.   

       Another consideration is radiation. As I understand it the ISS is largely protected by the Van Allen radiation belts but, if moved to the L1 point, it would not be. It is not adequately equipped to shield astronauts and equipment against the radiation present further away from earth.
madradish, Dec 24 2002

       //The ISS was designed to be where it is, i.e. to provide a research and tasting lab ...//

[madradish] I had no idea that the editors at Bon Appetit and Cooks' Illustrated had gotten so powerful or gained such deep pockets. Must be one heck of a test kitchen.<g>
jurist, Dec 24 2002

madradish, Dec 24 2002

       Why, sure. Food tastes lighter in orbit.
neelandan, Dec 24 2002

       Where do you think all of the new light cooking oils came from? Space research!
Pharaoh Mobius, Dec 24 2002

       If we do build anything at any of the Lagrangian points it would be easier to do what G.K. O'Neil suggested, use building materials from the moon. It's closer to most of the points & the lesser gravity would make it easier to launch from. Yes it would involve setting up a permanent moon base ($$$).
the great unknown, Jan 14 2003

       //Solid fuel is as safe as dynamite...a stable and dependable propellant.//
Tell that the to the families of the Challenger crew.
krelnik, Jan 14 2003

       I was being quippy there, but my real point is this: you can't turn off a solid rocket motor once it is lit. That is a _huge_ safety issue with a manned ship. The Shuttle's launch abort options are severely curtailed simply by this one fact.   

       Prior to the Shuttle, NASA had a stated rule of no manned flights on solid rockets for this reason. They broke the rule with the Shuttle because President Nixon cut the budget for the program and they could no longer go ahead with the original design (which was a 100% reusable and 100% liquid fueled system).
krelnik, Jan 14 2003

       They should beg, borrow, or steal Russia's liquid fuel boosters and Energia rocket. The Buran isn't going to need it.
RayfordSteele, Feb 02 2003

       They've probably been sitting in the rain and snow for 20-odd years. I wouldn't ride one. Not that I'd ride the Shuttle right now either.
Madcat, Sep 12 2003

       // Another consideration is radiation. As I understand it the ISS is largely protected by the Van Allen radiation belts but, if moved to the L1 point, it would not be. It is not adequately equipped to shield astronauts and equipment against the radiation present further away from earth. \\   

       The Van Allen belts do not pose a threat to space travellers. They capture charged particles from the sun, Alpha particles in particular. Alpha particles cannot penetrate a sheet of tinfoil, and they certainly cannot penetrate a spacecraft's hull.
Madcat, Sep 21 2003

       Geez, read what I said already!   

       The Van Allen Belts PROTECT the ISS from much more than alpha particles. Whether they pose a threat or not, they stop potentially fatal radiation such as gamma rays which may be solar in or extrasolar in origin.   

       Link may help.
madradish, Sep 22 2003

       umm.. alpha particles are dangerous, sure, beta radiation is essentially fast electrons, and gamma radiation is really high energy light radiation. gamma and beta radiation are more dangerous than anything else, really, not because they themselves destroy living tissue so effectively (wow, you hit ONE nucleotide!) but because when they hit things, they break them up into other cosmic rays. Ouch. Neutrons are released from most nuclear reactions but they are readily stopped, since they really don't have a butt-load of energy, unless they're generated in a nuclear explosion which tends to give them plenty of energy to blast through feet of concrete and emerge on the other side to create showers of gamma rays and all sorts of nasty things. (remember the gold-foil experiment... rutherford... uranium/radium neutron source shooting at gold foil... the neutron plowed through the gold foil and smashed into the silver emulsion photographic paper, making little black dots wherever it hit... honestly, radiation isn't that big of a deal except during solar flare transits, and then your sheilding of whatever type will be completely overwhelmed. Idk... lagrange sounds good for staionkeeping, but getting there will be rough without a solar-electric tug and a butt load of sheilding.
orionblade2003, Jul 10 2004


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