Welcome to a place of vision and beauty. Welcome to the world of space art.
My initial goal wasn't to create just another cool looking starship. There's a bunch out there and I probably don't have anything meaningful to add in that particular genre.
Instead, I am creating a spacecraft based on real world requirements and science. It may sound mundane at first, but these requirements are leading to some very interesting aesthetic results, making for what I hope will be some interesting spacecraft art.
First, any meaningful design endeavor needs a fancy name, right? In this case, it is the:
Contingent Response Supplemental Physico Transport.
The scenario assumes a lunar habitat utilizing Controlled Ecological Life Support for a maximum of 100 inhabitants. In the event of catastrophic failure of the CELS in part or whole which does not require evacuation, the CRSPT will deliver a substantive volume of physico support to ensure the survivability of the habitat with regards to physico rquirements. The baseline mission is enough water to support 100 inhabitants for a period of 20 days. Allotment per inhabitant is 13.25 liters per day, giving us the most important thing we need for designing a spacecraft: the payload mass. Mpl for the baseline mission comes to 26.5 x 10(3) kg. (I'll doublecheck the math periodically to make sure I haven't lost a decimal point somewhere. If you see any math errors, please feel free to point them out.)
There are other requirements imposed on the design:
- It is assembled in space to avoid the limitations of heavy lift dV from Terra.
- It is composed of simple parts that are easily assembled in the construction environment of LEO.
- It is modular, so that the parts are easy to manufacture and assemble with no or minimal design work required for additional models and variants. (Air, food, fuel, building materials, etc.)
- It has a nominal dV budget of 8 km/s. This is for a full round trip from LEO to lunar orbit and back to LEO.
- It performs physico terminal delivery and replenishment quickly such that it can sustain a full load and delivery cycle of 20 days. i.e. - it can arrive at the moon with a full load of water every 20 days.
- It must use means of propulsion which are available today. This means a hydrogen/oxygen engine with Isp that does not exceed 350 or so.
-It must use material available today. In keeping with the concept of easy to build and assemble, I've elected to try aluminum. We'll see how that goes.
So, what about the art? Well, imposing engineering requirements and limitations provides a basis for designing what the thing looks like beyond just a good artistic eye. When you have to start justifying everything that you actually draw in terms of a meaningful design, things come out a little different than you might expect.