RESEARCH PAPERS: Papers on Aerospace Industry: Space Station Technology

Historical Review

[+] Author and Article Information
W. Ray Hook

Space Station Office, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23665

J. Eng. Ind 106(4), 276-286 (Nov 01, 1984) (11 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3185947 History: Received August 03, 1984; Online July 30, 2009


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration began space station studies in 1959 during its first year of existence. Since that time, numerous space station designs have been studied. A wide range of configurations and sizes that would accommodate from two to tens of crew members in space for orbital stay times from weeks to years was created. These designs were influenced by two major factors. First, the Earth launch vehicles available to place the station and logistics vehicles in orbit; and second, the intended purpose or mission of the station. Early designs were heavily influenced by the uncertainty of human performance in space, particularly zero gravity. Consequently, mission emphasis moved from research on humans to research in general and ultimately to industrial operations in space. The resultant design evolution is reviewed with emphasis on technology requirements in light of launch vehicle and mission constraints. The Skylab and Salyut programs are reviewed as a prologue to current planning. Both United States and Soviet experiences greatly influence current thinking. Finally, an overview of current plans attempts to scope the range of space station architectures under consideration in view of the ongoing space shuttle program and future mission needs.

Copyright © 1984 by ASME
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