Lockheed Missile & Space Space Station- 1959


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In 1959 Lockheed was in full sales swing in Italy. The Starfighter contract was in the bag, and they were trying hard with the Hercules (they succeeded, much later). They were sustaining the marketing effort with PR activities on the mayor magazines. The best at that time was the monthly "Alata", that was renown for the high technical level of its articles. So in late spring 1959 Lockheed slipped to Alata a very detailed report on a rather large space station done by Lockheed Missile & Space Company (LMSC), one of the three division of Lockheed at the time. "Alata" summarized the report, converted all the dimensions and weights in metric measures and translated the captions and the call outs of the drawings. So in the images you'll see Italian language. The article can be found in the July 1959 issue.
LMSC envisioned a rotating single torus station with a dia of slightly less than 100 feet, providing almost 1 G of artificial gravity. The core comprised three flat cylinder modules, the central rotating, the external two fixed (one a zero-G medical laboratory, the other an astronmical observatory) and at 0 G. Energy was provided by a fast liquid-metal cooled nuclear reactor with individual shielding and positioned at the end of a 50 feet truss fixed to one of the non-rotating cylinder of the core. Crew was 5 people for long durations. The core and the torus is made up of elements of a maximum weight of circa 9 tons. The elements were to be launched by a purpose built booster. Three stage, first one propelled by a single LOX-Kerosene 500-ton thrust class engine, augmented by four jets of 11 ton thrust. The stage sported large aperture fins that were used for a controlled re-entry after exhaustion of the fuel. The jets permitted a powered re-entry at the base for reuse. Second and third stage use LH2 and F2 (!), with a 145-ton class and a 34-ton class engine. All engines are pressure-fed. Boosters were to be launched by the three from a special built facility (see picture).
Crew was launched in orbit on-board a winged vehicle, carrying three passengers plus the pilot (space taxi). The vehicle roster is completed by a space-tug, used to assemble the station elements. The space tug had a two-man crew and sported manipulatory arms. The spacetug with arms was included in some of the known SLOMAR proposals, so this LMSC station COULD be related to SLOMAR work.
I've not been able to find any other info on this LMSC report and study. Any help would be appreciated.


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Booster, launch facility, winged taxi and space tug.


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that new for me, i don't have data

but thanks for posting
Thanks Skybolt, that's very interesting
Interplanetary Flight by Arthur C Clarke 2nd Edition 1960

Always wondered about these...


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Barry, great find ! I'll buy that book !
I have an old "Journal of the British Interplanetary Society" article (which I'll try to find) with this project in it. Apparently, the top stage of the ferry rocket was supposed to land on top of a carrier aircraft at high altitude, to be landed by it...visions of a Landing Signals Officer in pressure suit, waving his bats and trying to keep his balance to avoid a death plunge spring to mind!
I confirm, the space taxi rendez-vous'ed with a modified 707. I'll post the image from the article.
Et voilà..


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Oh boy! Looks like it's the "landing field" that "goes 'round again" if they miss the first time!
Such a small-radius spinning station would be unlikely to be useful in practice. Long-term (several weeks) testing showed that a rotation rate of 3rpm could be quickly adapted to by participants, and as high as 10rpm was achievable for a fraction of those tested. For 1g, this contraption would need to spin at nearly 20rpm. I don't know that astronauts could deal with that long-term, and I don't know if 0.5g has enough of an effect on the human body to make it worth the trouble.

see Artificial Gravity, Clément & Bukley, pp 79-82
Howedar said:
I don't know if 0.5g has enough of an effect on the human body to make it worth the trouble.

There's really only one way to find out. Also, a "lunar gravity" station in low Earth orbit would be a fabulously useful place for doing long-duration studies, so long as you don't actually have long-duration lunar bases.

Since the vast majority of places in the universe where humans might want to set up shop will have *lower* than Earth-normal gravity, it makes all kinds of sense to do long duration tests at lower g levels. And if it's found that the negative physiological effects of spaceflight can be mitigated at, say, 2% Earth normal gravity... well, a 0.02 G spaceship bound for Titan is a hell of a lot easier than a 1 G spaceship bound for Titan.

Decades of space station work have been wasted in zero G. There's no good reason to make a zero-G station, since we know that:
A) They suck
B) If humanity makes a go of it in space, it won't be at zero G.
Howedar said:
I don't know if 0.5g has enough of an effect on the human body to make it worth the trouble.

According to a UK space-medicine researcher, the crucial level at which artificial gravity becomes useful is about a third of a g. The jury's out as to whether Mars's gravity is strong enough or not.

I can't remember the name of the researcher or which UK university he was affiliated with, but I believe I saw this in an issue of Spaceflight in the last year or two.
Orionblamblam said:
Decades of space station work have been wasted in zero G. There's no good reason to make a zero-G station, since we know that:
A) They suck
B) If humanity makes a go of it in space, it won't be at zero G.

What's so obviously bad about zero-g stations?
Proponent said:
Orionblamblam said:
Decades of space station work have been wasted in zero G. There's no good reason to make a zero-G station, since we know that:
A) They suck
B) If humanity makes a go of it in space, it won't be at zero G.

What's so obviously bad about zero-g stations?

Humans aren't made for zero-g, nor are the plants and animals we are liable to take with us. When/if we have a mature space-based society, zero-g will be a transitory phenomenon in the course of one's day... you wake up in your bed (under gravity), go about your morning business under gravity, *perhaps* go to a zero-g job for a fraction of the day (construction of space stations, SPS, etc; repair of space based infrastructure such as stations, SPS, telescopes, etc), then you come home and live your life under gravity. Maybe you go to the low-g swimming pool, or fly around in the zero-g aviary, but you *walk* back to your home.

Look at the large "space colonies" that have been designed over the years. Zero-g sections have been designed... but the *living* *sections* are all rotating for artificial-g.

The research time/resources/personell/funds that have been squandered would have been better spent working on designed and developing artificial-g stations and testing to see what man's requirements actually are. Spending all this time studying human physiology with *months* and *years* of zero-g is like spending 40 years studying the human reaction to supersonic flight without a windshield before actually building a supersonic aircraft.
Ok, next week I'll make a tour of the library..
First post, and glorious thread necromancy. Hope you don't mind. ;D

But anyway, I have something to show. Got my hands on the italian paper Alata (yeah, a copy of a magazine far older than myself) and scanned it.
The darn article was print in a bigger page size than A4 so i had to make more scans and doctor the results together like a puzzle. Thankfully there were only a handful of pages, and I have photoshop. B)
It is now available here with 300dpi images.

I started the translation italian-english for a friend, and guess what I found while googling obscure terms? :eek:
This site (scroll down a little, read under "Lockheed Aircraft Corporation"). Copy-pasting in "maroon" colour below.

Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Saunders B. Kramer and Richard A. Byers, of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, published "A Modular Concept for a Multi-Manned Space Station" in the "Proceedings of the Manned Space Stations Symposium" of 1960. This paper describes all aspects of the space station, including: the station itself (configuration, materials, structural details, mass estimates, power, communications); the micro-ecology (biochemical, psychological, external); station dynamics (guidance and control, rendezvous techniques, changes of orbit); the "astrotug" and "astrocommuter" vehicles (configuration, power and mass estimates); and a development plan with cost estimates for the entire program. It was evidently the most thoroughly developed space station proposal of its time. The authors acknowledge the contributions of twenty other Lockheed personnel in preparing it [38].

The main part of the station was to be assembled from ten cylindrical modules, 30 feet long and 10 feet in diameter, and six spherical modules, 18 feet in diameter. Six of the cylindrical modules would be assembled into three pairs, forming three parallel coplanar 60-foot cylinders. A spherical module would be attached to each of the six ends. The remaining four cylindrical modules would act as spokes, connecting both side assemblies to the center. The entire configuration would rotate around the center assembly to provide artificial gravity. The radius of rotation (measured to the floor of the side assemblies) would be approximately 49 feet. Other elements of the station, such as the docking port, observatory, and nuclear power plant, would extend from both ends of the station's center assembly. Bearings would separate the rotating and non-rotating sections. At some future time, the station could be expanded, first by adding another pair of assemblies on spokes perpendicular to the original, then by duplicating the entire arrangement along the axis.

This configuration differs from most artificial gravity designs in that the habitation modules are oriented parallel to the axis of rotation, rather than perpendicular to it (as in a torus). This has the advantage of reducing the Coriolis acceleration of a person moving through the habitat. The disadvantage is that these eccentric movements parallel to the axis can lead to significant disturbances in the station's inertia and rotation. It is not clear whether such considerations had any bearing on the choice of configuration.

Given the station configuration, the Coriolis acceleration was a prime consideration in choosing the angular velocity and gravity level. The authors reasoned that the absolute magnitude of the Coriolis acceleration was less important than its proportional magnitude as compared to the centripetal acceleration. (The centripetal acceleration is the "design gravity"; the Coriolis acceleration is a "distortion" to be minimized.) Coriolis acceleration increases with angular velocity, while centripetal acceleration increases with angular velocity squared. Therefore, the greater the angular velocity, the smaller the ratio of Coriolis to centripetal acceleration. The authors concluded that, given a floor radius of approximately 49 feet, one full g should be provided, requiring an angular velocity of more than 7.5 rotations per minute [39]:

It has often been suggested that the gravitational state on a large vehicle should be less than one g, and possibly as small as 1/10 g, but, in view of the Coriolis effects, this is considered impractical ... A vehicle radius of approximately 49 feet (to the cabin floor) has been adopted as an acceptable radius for a vehicle to be spun up at one g. No smaller spin radius has been considered, because of increasingly intolerable Coriolis components and gravity gradients.

The authors apparently gave no consideration to the effects of cross-coupled rotations that would occur, for example, when a crew member turned his head from side to side. Research into motion sickness - some of it published in the same 1960 symposium proceedings - has indicated that angular velocity should be considerably less than the 7.5 rotations per minute proposed for this station. (This is discussed further in Chapter 2.)

Given the minuteness of some of the specifications, one glaring omission is any mention of the presumed crew size. Nevertheless, the article does specify that the crew's personal quarters were to be divided between two of the 30-foot modules, one on each side of the rotation axis.

The station was to be assembled at an altitude of 318 statute miles, on an orbit inclined 50 degrees to the equator. This orbit was chosen to stay below the inner Van Allen radiation zone and away from the Winkler radiation areas above the geomagnetic poles. Given the planar configuration of the station and its particular inertial properties, orientation of the rotation axis normal to the orbital plane was found (mathematically) to be unstable, and susceptible to large deviations caused by gravitational torque. For maximum dynamic stability, the axis of rotation was to be inertially fixed within the orbital plane. "It thus acts like a gyroscope, and tends to remain in this attitude. Resultant oscillations due to gravitational coupling, and to personnel motion aboard, render effects in pitch, roll, and yaw smaller than those found on an ocean liner like the Queen Elizabeth riding in a glassy calm sea" [40]. It is not clear whether this last assertion is based on engineering analysis or merely wishful thinking.

Besides gravitational torque and crew motion, other potentially destabilizing influences noted by the authors were: rotating machinery; interaction with the Earth's electromagnetic field; and micrometeoroid impacts. The stabilization system would consist of a pumped fluid - "possibly mercury because of its high density", and inertia wheels of "substantial mass".

Notice the red bolded text, if you haven't already.

The names of the authors in it are the same as stated in the italian article (the very first lines), the dates are very close, and the content seems in agreement with what I read in Alata magazine.

So, you now know where the original paper probably is. A cursory google search found a copy for sale for 22 bucks.

I stopped my translation, also because the translation english-italian made by the writers of the Alata article was not-so-brilliant, but I can resume if anyone is interested (obviously no deadlines nor promises on the timescale ;D).

Here is my incomplete translation, contains predicted cost figures, the launch schedule, the captions of the reentry vehicle and of some other images in the OP, plus other random things. ;)

Here are the space tug schematics, translated and full size (not cropped like the images in the OP).
Fantastic document! Thanks for sharing and welcome to this forum! ;)
someone_else said:
Keep us informed then. ;)

Current investigation status: "I know I have a copy... I saw it somewhere around here just a year or two ago. Now where the hell did I put it?"

Current status: found it. I'll make some scans in the next few days.
someone_else said:
Awesome :D

Does it contain schematics too or is it only text? ???

Text with a few good diagrams. A different, notably smaller, space tug.

Currently swamped w/family/visitors, so it might take a few days. If Overscan is reading along, please let me know if scans of the full report are permissible. I'd think so, as this isn't exactly readily available, but I'll abide either way.
No response from the Forum Overlords, so here are just some images.


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just found in one of my hard disks the attached picture

plus, there is a picture of the extended version of this station on



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ender said:
just found in one of my hard disks the attached picture

plus, there is a picture of the extended version of this station on


...Damn, tempus fugit on this one! Mark Wade and I had an e-mail convo about this design back in 1999, and whether or not it influenced *this* particular early 70's sci-fi failed pilot design for a space station:


Source: John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV


...I'd had contact at the time with Mij hrofnaD...er, I mean Jim Danforth at that time, who'd done some of the miniatures work on this pilot, and from his recollections at the time - and I'm paraphrasing from memory, mea culprit - the core of the design, as were all the miniatures, were based on a whole bunch of NASA concept drawings the NASA PAO and "one of the aerospace contractors" had provided the producers, who picked the designs they liked and passed them on to the effects team. After almost three decades, tho, Jim couldn't remember which specific NASA concept had been picked for the station, as all they'd been forwarded were the images with no captions or even a memo stating their origin. He did say, however, that had the show been picked up by NBC, the model would have gotten a bit more detailing - most specifically detail to denote escape pods all about the station, which was something I noted being missing way back when a first-gen Astrobuff like me first saw this movie on TV. :eek:

...As for why it flopped, while ratings weren't that bad, part of why NBC passed on the show had to do with the declining interest in space - yeah, riiiight - while another part had to do with the overall cost of the series, which wasn't exactly cheap. But the biggest reason - at least according to Gary Lockwood when asked about Earth II at conventions, is that NBC questioned whether or not enough "interesting" stories could be told about a place just sitting in orbit. Or, to put it another way, instead of "Boldly going where no man has gone before", it was "boldly staying where no one has stayed before". And while that worked for Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9, the networks at least weren't ready for the concept. Not if said concept was going to stick to "real-life space travel", which meant not only could you not have Mariette Hartley as an aggressive sex-crazed mutant with two navels, you couldn't even have Lockwood wearing chrome-plated scleral contacts without the "this is what the *real* future will be like!" hook for the series premise cut off with the line and sinker.

...Anyway, to make a short story long, the english version of Earth II used to be on YouTube. Однако, для наших друзей, которые там происходят говорить на русском чертовски много лучше, чем я, русско-дублированной версии здесь. Наслаждайтесь, братья мои! ;D


...Всегда пожалуйста!

This is not from Lockheed
that design for a tourist space station by Dr. Krafft A. Ehricke, around 1970
Michel Van said:
This is not from Lockheed
that design for a tourist space station by Dr. Krafft A. Ehricke, around 1970

...In order:

1) Never said it was. Read the post carefully, as neither I nor Jim Danforth could cite the original source for the actual imagery used for inspirational purposes. While most of the images the production received had been provided by the NASA PAO, an unknown quantity were provided by one of the aerospace contractors at the time. One of those contractors may have gotten a thank-you nod in the closing credits, although I don't see one on IMDB. I've got a couple other contacts who have made it their specialty - more like wearing a hair shirt and shorts, if you ask me - in the minutae of early 1970s sci-fi. I'll see if they've got any more details along these lines. I know Howard Anderson and Art Cruikshank were in charge of the movie's effects, but as both are deceased getting info from them might not easy. In fact, every time I use an ouija board to contact anyone in the afterlife, I keep getting Nixon's office down in Hell, where I'm put on hold for 18 minutes and then disconnected :p

Either way, regardless of whether or not it was Lockheed, the similarities are too close to ignore.

2) Circa 1970 would have been very close to the time Earth II went into production, but it may have needed to have been drafted a bit earlier than that, considering the Hollywood production approval process, as well as the time it takes to build a model like that from scratch. Care to provide an image of the Ehricke concept you're referencing, as well as anything resembling a copyright date on the image so we can at least see when it was first published/distributed?
Barrington Bond said:
Think this is what Michel is referring to...

...Yeah, I recall seeing that one a *long* time ago, but it wasn't one of those that either Mark nor I were taking into consideration. That one is, however, quite a bit closer to the Earth II station by far, albeit a bit more concentrated and a lot more colorful to say the least.
Ehricke's space station:

1) Robert McCall
2) Postage stamp Djibouti 1982


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