Alpha LEO Station – A First Low Earth Orbit Station as a base for Asteroid Mining Operations

Alpha LEO Station
A First Low Earth Orbit Station as a base for Asteroid Mining Operations

Based on the report by Jan Kaliciak, Ueli Scheuermeier, James Brown, James Wilson, & Terry Wilson, produced for NEAmines Group March 2008


*Many thanks to Jan and Ueli for their support and encouragement! *

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Alpha LEO Station is a somewhat unique design which addresses the requirements for a permanent low Earth orbit base for supporting asteroid mining operations.

The design features a substantial full-1G crew habitat and counterweight each on a 100m arm, attached to a central magnetic-sleeve hub that works as a virtually frictionless bearing. This habitat “rotor” rotates at 3 RPM to provide simulated gravity.

Another feature is the large pressurisable “Garage” for servicing and assembly of spacecraft and other hardware. It’s also used to process & refine asteroid material to produce fuel, water and construction materials, as well as Platinum Group Metals.

The station includes a couple of “Storm Cellar” modules for crew protection against solar flares: one in the lower boom shielded by fuel storage tanks, and one in the stator between the airlock and the garage, shielded by general storage and material containers.

The design proposes a clever solution for attitude and stability issues associated with rotating modules in space, by using a long gravity-gradient-boom to tidally-lock the station to the Earth, with the boom pointing toward the Earth’s centre-of-gravity. As a bonus, this provides the ability to nudge modest payloads into higher orbits by launching them from the upper-end of the boom. Another possibility is to extend a skyhook cable from the end of the lower-boom, for retrieving payloads in lower orbits, much like the orbital-tether concept.

Another clever solution is the synchromesh airlock, which eliminates the problems of maintaining airtight seals between rotating and non-rotating modules. The syncho airlock uses a self-contained unit that can be used to “bridge the gap” between moving and static components.
Original 3D Models and Animation © fragomatik 2019 All Rights Reserved.
Some 3d assets courtesy NASA

Music Credits:
Music courtesy YouTube Audio Library:
Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven)
Blue Danube Waltz (Strauss)

Image Credits:
Images courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.

ISS-38 image of Hawaii:
NASA Photo ID ISS038-E-32755

ISS-40 image of Greece and Turkey:
NASA Photo ID ISS040-E-098804

This file is in the public domain in the United States because it was created by the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, of the NASA Johnson Space Center.

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