Discovery One

A Plan from Arthur C. Clarke's Vision


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Discovery One -- Design

Geodesic Shaped ship with a Flower-like Stem and Receptacle

  • Size of the Engine Modules (Fusion) (4 in 1)
  • Size of the [Habitable] Stem (50-100 meters)
  • Size of the Habitable Receptacle (25-225 meters)
  • Size of Sphere for Crew and Payload (cargo)
    (50m somewhat livable -- astronauts only)
    (100m livable -- astronauts and tourists)
    (200m livable -- astronauts and tourists)
    (250m livable -- astronauts and tourists)
    (300m very livable -- astronauts and tourists)
  • High-Bandwidth Communication (Laser)
  • Instant Communication Device
    Entangled Particles -- Theoretical


Discovery One -- Materials

Carbon only space ship -- Almost !

  • Titanium
    Frames and Trusses for armatures
  • Poly-Amide
    3D-Printed Structures (Space Pod)
  • Carbon fiber
    Plates for walls and floors
    Trusses for armatures
    Furniture -- Foldaway and retractable
  • Kevlar or Linar (High-grade)
    Micro Meteorite Protection
  • Polyurethane Foam or Other Compound
    Micro Meteorite Protection
  • Ceramic (High-grade)
    Cold/Heat Shielding
    Interior Plumbing
  • Aerogel -- Carbon or silica
    Interior Cold/Heat Shielding
    Sound proofing
    Furniture
  • Carbon plating
    Exterior Cold/Heat Shielding
  • Boron/Graphene/Fullerene
    Solar and Cosmic Ray Shielding
    Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) Shielding
  • UHMWPE Fiber (High-grade)
    Bicycle wheel cables (Spectra or Dyneema)
    Bullet-proof coverings
  • Cotton and Bamboo Fiber (High-grade)
    Interior Clothing and Footwear
    Bed spread, pillows, cushions


Discovery One -- Livability

The ship features required for basic livability.

  • Oxygen production
    Algae walls
    Oxygen soaking material
  • CO2 Scrubbing
    Algae walls
    Plasma burner
    CO2 conversion into hydrogen and baking soda
  • Food
    Astronaut rations (microwavable)
    Excess Algae growth
  • Water
    Evian (250 MT by heavy launch rockets)
  • Body Cleaning
    Hand and Body Wipes (Alcohol laced)
    Ceramic and carbon bathtubs for tourists
  • Garbage Disposal
    Plasma burner located at both ends of the receptacle
    Pneumatic plumbing for garbage
    Cotton/Bamboo/Paper garbage canisters
    Printable RF-ID tags for garbage canisters
    Upward access for garbage disposal conduit
    Garbage Collection areas near the Plasma burners
  • Power Generation
    Hydrogen Fuel Cells
    Solar Panels
    Solar Concentrator
    Adiabatic Systems
    • Thermo-electric Power Generator (Seebeck effect)
    • Thermo-acoustic Power Generator
    • Adiabatic (+150C to -200C) Convected Gas power Generator


Discovery One -- Lander

Carrying platform approach to a lander.

  • Rectangular-shaped carrying platform
    Few or no control surfaces.
    Flyweels/gyros are used in place of control surfaces.
    Retro rockets -- fixed or on a swivel.
    Series of parachutes on top of the upper flat surface as fail-safe.
    Ultra wide fuselage -- essentially an air foil, wider than HTV-3X.
    All or most of the frame in titanium or carbon composite.
    Stripped down interior to reduce weight.
    Non pressurized -- passengers wear their space suits.
    Swivel seats for vertical re-entry.
    Second generation have aerospikes for vertical takeoff.
    A square box, 10M or 11M in length and 4.5M in width, inspired by the LEM, consisting of a lower deck with eight toroidal spikes and fuel tanks, a top deck with RCS thrusters at each corner and more tanks, and a middle layer for cabin and cargo bay with buggy.


Discovery One -- Space Plane

Blended fuselage approach to a space plane.

  • Blended fuselage space plane
    Ultra wide fuselage BlackSwift a.k.a DragonFly.
    All or most of the frame is made of titanium.
    Cables are made of Dyneema/Spectra in a Silicon/Nomex sheath.
    Required lifespan of cables is a minimum of 10 years.
    96 wedges in orbit with 24 trips for 4 space planes over 2 years.
    48 wedges in orbit with 24 trips for 2 space planes over 2 years.
    36 wedges in orbit with 36 trips for one space plane over 3 years.
    96 wedges in orbit with 48 trips for 2 space planes over 2 years.
    96 wedges in orbit with 24 trips for 4 space planes over one year.
    Solar power will be used to produce hydrogen and oxygen for fuel.
    Rendez-vous with Skyhook at Mach 17 is a space launch alternative.
    Designing Discovery to do double-duty as a SkyHook is to be attempted.


Discovery One -- As SkyHook

Rotating SkyHook

  • Rotating SkyHook around a center hub.
    Three sections made mostly of Tungsten and Titanium alloy.
    All three sections are 10M in diameter and 10M+ in height.
    The center section rotates using a linear motor design.
    The anchor points around the rotating hub are aligned using repulsors.
    The anchor points consists of 2M+ concentric rings around the 10M+ hub.
    The magnetic drag of the repulsors are offset with added force to the rotor.
    Cables are made of Dyneema/Spectra in a Silicon/Nomex sheath.
    Required lifespan of cables is a minimum of 20 years, preferably 50 years.
    To protect against UV and AO, cables have a silicon/silicate and/or aerogel layer.
    Both hoists use a cable truss design and consist of tethers and extension modules.
    Extension modules use centripetal force for deployment and winch motors for retraction.
    Both hoists consist of 12/24 extension modules and 25KM to 60KM tether sections.
    Extension modules have 0.25N ion thrusters used to reduce/increase angular velocity.
    The orbital period is 3.2 hours at an altitude of 800 KM, increasing the grappling window.
    Ion or chemical combustion thrusters are used for attitude and altitude adjustments.
    48 20MT+ wedges stacked on either side of the center hub used as zero-G habitats.
    96 wedges of 20MT+ plus 3 hub sections of 125MT+ for a total mass of 2300MT+.
    Mach-17 space splane launch the wedges; which are then pushed to upper orbit with thrusters.


Discovery One -- Cost Study

Approximate costs of materials, manpower, launches, etc.

  • Material costs -- Mostly already R&D(ed) materials
    Titanium Grade1 ($US25,000.00/MT)
    Titanium Alloy ($US8,000.00/MT)
    Titanium Grade5 ($US6,000.00/MT)
    High-Grade Ceramic ($US2,000.00/MT)
    High-Grade Poly-Amide ($US2,500.00/MT)
    Oxygen soaking material ($US10,000.00/MT)
    Carbon Tiles ($US50.00/Meter^2)
    Carbon Fiber ($US10.00/Meter^2)
    Boron Carbide ($US40.00/KG)
    Aerogel tiles ($US10.00/Meter^2)
    Kevlar ($US10.00/Meter^2)
    Linar ($US10.00/Meter^2)
    Alcohol Wipes ($US10.00/1000)
    Cotton fiber ($US2,000.00/MT)
    Bamboo fiber ($US2,000.00/MT)
    Xenon fuel ($US50.00/KG)
  • Research & Development Costs
  • Engineering & Manufacturing Costs
  • Launch costs
    Heavy launch rockets ($US2,500.00/KG feasible) ($US5,000.00+/KG too expensive)
    Skylon space plane ($US1,000.00/KG feasible)
    DragonFly space plane ($US,1000.00/KG feasible)
    HASTOL sky hook ($US1,000.00/KG feasible)
  • Manpower Costs
    (US$100,000.00/Year base salary)
    (US$200,000.00/Year base salary astronaut)
  • Estimated Cost
    Optimistic, Half NASA's budget for a year (US$10 Billions)
    Realistic, All of NASA's budget for a year (US$20 Billions)
    Pessimistic, Twice NASA's budget for a year (US$40 Billions)


Discovery One -- Construction

Requirements and Logistics

  • Sphere
    Geodesic Titanium Frame
    Assembly done using a By-the-number method.
  • Panels
    3 to 5 meters wide (preferably 5 meters).
    Hexagonal, Pentagonal, Triangular.
    Embedded Transponder (RF-ID).
    Algae wall on the interior side.
    Vacuum seal with frame or other panel.
    Insulator foam for micro meteorite.
    Shaped magnetic field generator (optional).
    Handles for grappling (allowing for a ladder around the sphere for EVA).
  • Space Pod
    Titanium Frame.
    3D-printed poly-amide sphere.
    Coated with Kevlar or Linar.
    Aerogel cold/heat shielding.
    Carbon tiles for the exterior.
    4K-OLED (180-270 degree) screen instead of cockpit window.
    3D-Camera or multiple cameras for increased depth of field.
    Transparent aluminum casing for camera lenses.
    Manipulator arms plus tooling for Sphere assembly.
    Fly-by-Wire controls and automated pilot mode.
    Peroxide for propulsion, or better alternative.
  • Receptacle
    Titanium Frame
    Habitable (Pressurized)
    Docking (2 to 4)
    Entrance to stem cargo area (Optional)
    Housing for Plasma burners.
  • Stem
    Titanium Frame
    One to three stories
    Mostly water for cargo
    Cargo JIT machinery using RF-ID.
  • Rotating Wheel
    Titanium Frame.
    Titanium housing for axle and docking.
    40m to 240m in diameter.
    5/10m or 10/10m private quarters.
    Full width communal areas 25m in length (every 50m).
    Panels for surface (Minus magnetic shielding and Algae wall).
    Two electric engines for wheel rotation (4L Cayenne pulling Airbus-380, 300MT).
    Future version may use maglev band around the sphere and a maglev base in the receptacle, instead of two electric engines.