Marc Cohen: Space Station design (May 28, 1985)



David Nixon introduces Marc Cohen, an architect working at NASA Ames Research Center, where he is a part of the Space Human Factors Office and works on space station configurations. Cohen has provided SCI-Arc with a research grant for the Institute for Future Studies at SCI-Arc. This grant will allow students at SCI-Arc to investigate interior design aspects of the NASA space station habitability modules.

Cohen discusses previous space station projects and their characteristics as they relate to current research. These include critical dimensions, power source (solar voltaics), utilization of artificial gravity and performance boundaries of autonomy for a space station. He discusses his concept sketch for a triangular tetrahedral form. He discusses the schedule for this project, including the definition study, conceptual development, the design build, and finally the operating phase.

Cohen identifies the space shuttle cargo bay as the major design constraint. He reviews studies of various configurations, utilizing shell geometry and quick modeling techniques. He emphasizes the importance of developing definitions of human factors in order to maximize productivity and performance. He discusses new space mission characteristics, and concerns for safety and hygiene. The most critical human factor is that of volume. The severely constrained exterior limits of the station module have encouraged intensive volumetric studies.

Cohen discusses problems of spatial orientation, circulation and privacy. In previous space missions, the lack of reference orientation has disoriented and confused crews. Cohen’s team is studying circulation patterns based on biological analogies. They are also analyzing the need for privacy, and the levels required on board. They have also research optimum visual displays, entertainment, interior and exterior illumination, and sound absorption.

Cohen discusses the importance of the structures and the structural shells. He reviews various studies and configurations of birthing modules and docking adapters. He discusses the connections between modules and the issue of remote versus manual connections. Cohen discusses wind tunnel tests, power distribution, and the display of adapters. He outlines the debate regarding the robotization of space stations.

Cohen discusses the need for precisely clarifying and organizing functions. He discusses the issue of contamination, and the need to separate functions by sector, creating a safety buffer. Cohen stresses the concept of symmetry along the center of gravity.

Cohen discusses habitable interiors as they relate to the functional issues. He reviews the compartments in previous shuttle designs with individualized sleeping and personal hygiene facilities. He discusses endcaps, window surfaces, airlocks, and spatial orientation. He has formulated a space station reference configuration baseline, to assist future designers.

Cohen takes questions from the audience.

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