In the first semester at the Sasakawa International Centre for Space architecture, in a group of four students, we were sponsored by the private space company Excalibur Almaz to design their commercial space station "Almaz". It was a challenging task as the client wanted dual-use of the station, for research as well as for tourism. Moreover, we were redesigning the station inside an existing shell of the Russian Salyut station that the company now owns. A highly limited volume and conflicting functions demanded a rigorous design process leading to an impressive design that satisfied the client's visions. We were later on recruited for the next semester as well for producing the cost estimations and market research for the Almaz.
to work efficiently and effectively
Tourists want a unique, one-of-a-kind experience
(even in space!)
Extra room for autonomous robotic missions
to operate the station and serve as space host to guests
Beginning with our client, he provided us with key insights into the needs and desires of the design.
We charted these factors in the orders of priority and feasibility
High Design Feasibility
We visualized the different volume requirements of various space typologies for a crew of 2, 4 and 6.
As shown in the graph, the model breaks when the crew is 6 and the model becomes uneconomically luxurious when crew is 2.
Hence, we proceeded with a crew of 4.
This study determined how much volume was to be allocated for each function and informed the zoning and design.
Crew = 2
Crew = 4
Crew = 6
Informed with the different volume studies and analysis of design drivers, we created several design iterations, before finding the most optimized solution. For these iterations, different configurations of sleeping quarters were explored since it
required the maximum space.
The space station geometry guided us to separate two aspects: Utilitarian Space & Habitable Space.
The different functionalities are shown in the image to the left.
The noisy equipment such as ECLSS, Hygiene/Washroom in the Almaz station are kept far from the place of the frequent human occupancy.
Mobile Screen & Deployable Surface: The smart mobile screen separates into three sections and revolves around a rail manually and/or automatically. It provides display for utilitarian and recreational use. The deployable surface folds out from the galley space, acting like a table in microgravity.
Retractable Enclosure: The retractable sleeping quarter reduces the volume required to create a universal space during the day.
Collapsible Research Boxes: A brand new approach to the standard payload boxes, the new design can fit single or double sized components. The back panel contains a power, data, and water connection. During research missions, they are popped open. When not in use, they can collapse back in order to recover the volume.
Emergency Evacuation Protocol
The red marked lines show emergency evacuation warning lights to assist crew or tourists to evacuate safely. There are also two reusable return vehicles attached to the module, in case of emergency exits.
The air circulation path and vent locations were designed as shown in blue to cater to the CO2 build up in the small volume.
Dynamic Sense Of Place
The Almaz station was envisioned to have a phased approach for future growth through three launches, as described below.
1. Almaz launched into orbit with one RRV
3. Bigelow Space Operations' BEAM docked to Almaz
2. Second RRV launched for emergency egress and transfer of crew