Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Solaris - A manufacturing plant in orbit

In 1981, CNES, the french space agency, envisionned an "automatic" space station dubbed SOLARIS.

The basic idea was to have a manufacturing plant in orbit to produce advanced material and pharmaceutical products in microgravity that can be brought down through unmanned capsules.
I guess the project was scrubbed when the orbital produced materials turned out to be not so promising after some experiments done in SpaceLab from 1983.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hermes at liftoff - 1979 Artwork

A beautiful artwork of Hermes on the launchpad taken from a October 1979 magazine .
The variant of the spaceplane depicted here is the original version presented by CNES at the Paris Airshow the previous spring.

Interestingly, the launch vehicle envisioned is an Ariane 1. The maiden flight of that rocket was just 2 months after the issue of the magazine and this may have influenced the artist.
However, in no way an Ariane 1 would have been able to throw Hermes in orbit. The first  operational rocket of ESA was designed to deliver payloads in GTO (1 800kgs) not to LEO. But even with a reduced 3rd stage, the booster capability would have never fit with the 10 tons mass of Hermes.

Instead, CNES planned to use an uprated version of Ariane 4, dubbed "Ariane 5" with an enlarged 2nd stage. That rocket would have been very different from the Ariane 5 that will eventually be built and fly 15 years later.

Source : Science et Vie #745, October 1979

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Space settlements

A vintage space art from the mid seventies. The dream at that time was to build huge space colonies.

I love the psychedelic colors of the original scan so I restored it by removing some scratches, the text and balancing the colors.

Source : Space Settlements: A Design Study (NASA 1975)