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The creation of the International Space Station is a slow process. It involves moving alot of heavy equipment to create a solid shell that can maintain an atmosphere suitable for humans.
I propose an inflatable space station. It would provide a soft shell, that any space debris and particles would
simply bounce off. Because space is a vacuum the inflated walls of the station will be very ridged, and the atmosphere within the station will further help to support the station.
The weight per cubic metre of the station will be much less than the current technology used, and given that it can collapse into a small deflated volume it may need only one transport up into orbit. (although the compressed gas may take a few more trips).
It would provide large areas for experiments/storage/ or even rooms for a space hotel.
[chud, Sep 17 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]
inflatable space station
[theircompetitor, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]
||//any space debris and particles would simply bounce off\\ I'm no expert but I'd say that they'd be going so quickly that they'd pass straight through.
||Most likely it would explode rather than be suported by the pressure inside...
||orange - this is baked, strangely it was one of my first ideas as well
||kaz, RK - as you can see, those problems can be solved
||Since you only need to hold back about 8 psi, the "strong enough to not pop" is easy. Making something that will also shield the crew from radiation and protect them from micrometeorites is another matter. Not everything in orbit is travelling in the same orbit. There can be several different orbits which happen to intersect, and the different orbital velocities are significant. Getting hit by a tiny chip of paint knocked loose from a satellite could be nothing if the intersecting orbits are similar, or it could be like getting shot point blank with a .45 if the orbits are vastly different. An inflatable shell would be useless against debris like that. Bone.