Browse Publications Technical Papers 2009-01-2585
2009-07-12

Proposed Androgynous Docking Airlock/Utility Module 2009-01-2585

The objective of this paper is to detail a proposal for an Androgynous Docking Airlock/Utility Module (ADAM) that would allow extravehicular (EVA) crews, working from the Orion spacecraft, to avoid depressurizing the command module of the Orion vehicle for planned EVA repair, maintenance and interdiction of orbital structures. Unlike the Space Shuttle, Russian Soyuz vehicle or the Chinese Shenzhou manned spacecraft, the proposed Orion space vehicle has no airlock. This necessitates the depressurizing of the entire Command Module cabin during EVA activity. It also means that all crewmembers will have to wear space suits during contingency and planned EVAs. This inordinately dangerous situation will require all crewmembers to be exposed to the space vacuum for as much as seven hours or more if a working EVA becomes necessary. It also means that if an airlock is not employed on Orion, as indeed none is presently envisioned, the space suits the crew wears will be severely compromised in design as they will have to be employed as EVA suits and emergency launch/escape suits as well, a function that is preclusive on design, engineering and optimization levels.
The ADAM module, which is a lightweight, disposable, inflatable airlock/utility carrier, could be launch separately by SpaceX Corporation from launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Following the successful launch and orbit of the manned Orion spacecraft, ADAM would be launched into a similar orbit. Upon reaching orbit ADAM would automatically inflate, initiate its beacon and radar transponder. With the Orion orbiter acting as the active vehicle, the two spacecraft would rendezvous and dock in a manner not unlike that of the old Gemini/Agena docking system of the 1960s.
The ADAM module is deflated and tightly packed during the launch phase. This allows the module to impose the least stowage penalty within the launch shroud and also the least mass, thus, it can be launched by a relatively small booster utilizing the smallest payload fairing dimensions. On the forward and aft ends of the inflatable, cylindrical ADAM module are rigid structural hemispheres with a docking adaptor on the side interfacing to the Orion Vehicle. On the opposite end is an airlock hatch/docking adaptor. Between the two hemispherical ends the ADAM module is composed of a rugged fabric outer restraint layer (to hold the module into a cylindrical shape) and underneath is a polyurethane/Nylon bladder to hold in airlock life support gasses/pressure. Covering both is a thermal-micrometeoroid layer. When the ADAM module is sealed off from the Orion Command Module and deflated during EVA activity, aerobeams running longitudinally (as part of the inner bladder) along the modules fore-aft length, would maintain the shape/geometry of the inflatable structure.
Stowed inside the ADAM module hemispherical ends are two EVA space suits, and their supporting equipment and tools, etc. Also stowed in the ADAM module would be a lightweight fan and carbon dioxide scrubber to enhance and work with the Orion's life support system. When the planned EVA activity is completed at mission termination, tools, etc. are stowed inside the upper torsos of the EVA space suits and they are then transferred into the Orion Command Module, strapped into two unused seats, and are deorbited, along with the Orion vehicle, to be used again for future missions. The ADAM module is undocked from the Orion vehicle and allowed to deorbit and burn up upon eventual atmospheric reentry.

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