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These designs are from The Resources of the Solar System by Dr. R. C. Parkinson.
Image featured on Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rockets site,Lighter and Tanker page. Artwork also featured in the Advanced Design section under Tanker.
I became interested in this concept vehicle after seeing Winchell Chung’s article on his Atomic Rockets site.
Really I just wanted to know what the spacecraft would look like, but only low resolution drawings were available. So I set to creating a 3D model of the vehicle and some discussion proceeded on both mine and Winchell’s G+.
A former colleague of Dr. Parkinson came across our discussion and provided Winchell and I with contact information for Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Parkinson was happy to share some insight into these designs, along with scans of his original sketches and notes.
At some point in the very near future I will be rebuilding the model, incorporating the additional insight Winchell and I have gained.
In addition I plan to post an entire series on Dr. Parkinson’s 1975 space fleet.
Acknowledgment: I want to extend a special note of thanks to Dr. James Garry for arranging introduction and providing contact information for Dr. Parkinson to Winchell Chung and myself.
From Atomic Rockets: The Lighter ferries tanks of liquid hydrogen from an electrolyzing station on Callisto into orbit where waits the Tanker. Once the Tanker has a full load of tanks it transports them to LEO. All the ships are drones or robot controlled, there are no humans aboard. The paper makes a good case that shipping hydrogen from Callisto to LEO would eventually be more economically effective than shipping from the surface of Terra to LEO, with the break-even point occurring at 7.8 years. Please note that this study was done in 1975, before the Lunar polar ice was discovered, and probably before the ice of Deimos was suspected.
The concepts in the report interested me for their relevance to my own work in my Orion’s Arm future history setting.
Resource mining at Callisto in my future history is purposed to recover green house agents for use in a terraforming program and provide stock for propellant depots scatted across the outer solar system from Jupiter orbit, to orbits within the asteroid belt, supporting commercial mining operations, part of the large scale industrial and trade economy which grows around the Martian terraforming program.
From Atomic Rockets: The four major Galilean moons are within Jupiter's lethal radiation belt, except for Callisto. If you want ice that isn't radioactive, you've come to the right place. It is almost 50% ice, and remember this is a moon the size of planet Mercury. That's enough ice to supply propellant to the rest of the solar system for the next million years or so. Europa has more, but it is so deep in the radiation belt it glows blue. Callisto is also conveniently positioned for a gravitational sling shot maneuver around Jupiter to reduce the delta-V required for the return trip to Terra.
For an artistic rendering of the spacecraft see my Lighter and Tanker Callisto Orbit image.
My Orion’s Arm Callisto resource recovery missions are detailed in my Outer Solar System Frontier Gallery.
Callisto Production Field
Callisto Resource Mining Mission Cycle Chart
Dr. R. C. Parkinson Space Tug
Dr. Parkinson actually scanned his hand-drawn designs for us, this will be material that has not been seen before, or at least not at this level of detail.
Thanks Winchell, and thanks again for the pdf. I greatly enjoyed the design-puzzle and, in the process of extrapolating the function of the cross-bracing between the tank-clusters (in the profile-view) as a payload-mounting-deck, I’ve arrived at a design for a tanker/freighter open-cycle gas-core spacecraft (based on a more optimal/conventional radial symmetry) which will join my Nuclear OTV as part of the system states era nuclear orbital-transfer-vehicle design-series featured in my Orion’s Arm Future History.