The Chinese have begun a project for a large machine that can perform many functions. Is the idea imaginative or technically feasible?
China swallows more space ambitions … step Published by the Mathematical Department of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), Beijing plans to build More than a kilometer ” A great strategic space equipment for the future use of space resources, to explore its mysteries And for longevity By comparison, the International Space Station (ISS) is 110 meters long and costs $ 150 billion.
Residence or solar power station
Although still enough And carried out by China last August From a At an altitude of 300 meters. One may wonder about the possibilities of such a Jagannath. Of course, it is not possible to send such a mass at once. The The Falcon Heavy is one of the most powerful to date, capable of carrying only a maximum of 63 tons of equipment. The International Space Station, which weighs approximately 2,800 tons, has been in operation for many years., A This program can accomplish many functions such as service , To carry out unmanned missions or to act as a giant Where Will be sent to Earth Via Microwave beams. Technology
New construction techniques in orbit
To Mason Beck, Cornell University engineer and former technical director . It all depends on the usage of the structure: ” If we talk about something that is too long and not too heavy [qu’une structure habitée], It is possible “. New techniques Shipping costs can also be reduced. For example, NASA works The mirrors of a large space telescope are printed directly into space thanks to a technology called ALD (Automatic Layering), which prints and solidifies the reflective layers on a single substrate. Various mirrors can be assembled directly in orbit using smaller ones . Can also be stored Screened on , Although this is needed first , Which is impossible in the short term, Mason Beck foretold.However, the plan is completely realistic. ” I do not see insurmountable obstacles, but rather problems of scale », He explains to the site
It is difficult to operate the machine
However, shipbuilding was not the biggest obstacle facing the Chinese. ” Whenever the spacecraft is subjected to forces, it maneuvers or stops another vehicle.Provides energy to the structure, which vibrates and bendsMason Beck explains. With such a large ship, these It takes a long time to weaken, so shock absorbers or other controls may be needed to mitigate these vibrations. “In addition, at low orbits, atmospheric traction slows down vehicles. Therefore it is necessary to constantly adjust the altitude, which requires significant fuel consumption. And, of course, the heavier the system, the higher it will take.
However, the main question is cost. The allocated budget, which is 15 million yuan (or less than 2 million euros for a total of 5 projects), seems ridiculously low. Although this is only relevant to the stage of initial research, it is not up to the height of the enormous funding required. As mentioned above, the ISS costs $ 150 billion and its maintenance swallows up more than $ 3 billion a year. A one-kilometer-long ship may be technically and theoretically feasible, but practically impossible.
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