I sometimes get into discussions about if a spacecraft design is realistic. These are frequently interesting, but it’s not straightforward. For example, there are serious designs from the early days of spaceflight which we now know could not work. Manned craft without heavy radiation shielding are a common example of this.
On the other hand, you have some fictional craft carefully designed to be as realistic as possible – the vehicles in “2001 a Space Odyssey” are a great example.
So how to handle it when some fictional craft are more credible than serious designs? here’s my attempt at a system, from the most realistic to the least. Comments and additions are very welcome.
1. Real space hardware that actually flew successfully.
It is about getting the cost of reaching orbit down to a managable level, and the history of how we have got here. It includes an extensive history or space exploration.
And there’s a considerable amount about the non-rotating skyhook, which was the focus of my graphics work.
I am particularly pround of the video, which shows a complete mission. This includes how a craft would rendezvour with the lower end of the skyhook, and get haulled up to the main station. It would then be transferred to the upper end, and reeled out before being released.
All visuals by me, and the soundtrack, (Done using the SmartSound system).
The first part covered the background and references.
This part will cover the actual CGI model building.
As is clear from even a casual glance, the main challenge was going to be making sense of all those struts. Doing them indiviually would not be practical so I had to understand the various repeating patterns and symmetrys in them. If you look through the structure at an angle, it can seem very complex:
But from other angles the patterns are a lot clearer
Despite the difficulties of my N-1 models, I consider the most challenging mesh I ever built in terms of level of detail to be the model of the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank.
One major advantage compared to most of my projects is that I was able to visit the real thing, and get a large number of reference photos. Plus I had some useful help from the staff, who were kind enough to provide accurate overall dimensions of the major elements.