View Full Version : Tents in Space!

04-24-2016, 02:24 AM
No, I am not thinking of camping.

I am working on a space opera and, while, like Slartibartfast, I am a big fan of science, I am unfortunately a bit rubbish at it.

May I run the following scenario past others with a better command of science and engineering, please?

I have a scenario in my story, where the protagonistís space ship takes heavy fire and has been left for dead. The survivors have little option other than to take to the escape pods because their ship is dying. However, what survivors are left in the engineering section Ė I have in mind about thirty of them Ė cannot get back to the main body of the ship, where there are escape pods that still work, because intervening compartments have been depressurised.

What I had in mind was a sort of space tent; something with a semi-rigid octagonal structure that could be inflated and something like fifty feet long. I am thinking normal use for this tent thing would be that once deployed it would attach to the airlocks of other ships, allowing stranded crew of stricken ships to be recovered.

But thatís not going to work for my poor engineers because thereís no rescue ship for them. To get to where they need to get, I thought to inflate the tent thing, throw in the engineers, seal the tent behind them, and then cast it off from the engineering airlock.

For the tent to get to where it needs to get, I thought a couple of people in space suits with attached propulsion units could tow the tent. I think my people in spacesuits will have to tow very, very slowly because of momentum issues.

Iím happy to give my engineers an unhappy time of this; I would think the cold would be brutal Ė maybe even if the tent thing was equipped with some sort of heater Ė and the air in the tent can only last for so long, even if they also chuck in a few CO2 scrubbers.

Would the foregoing make you laugh like a loon, or does it seem doable?

Is there something bleeding obvious I missed and should think about?

Iíd be grateful for any input.


King Neptune
04-24-2016, 02:56 AM
That's not funny. I wouldn't make them so long, but that's a matter of preference. Reflective Mylar film would be excellent as a starting point; it reflects 90% of infrared. Search online, and you will find tents that are similar to what you described but smaller one or two person. The biggest problem with Mylar tents if condensation; it is water proof, and humans exhale and sweat a huge amount of water.

Dennis E. Taylor
04-24-2016, 03:05 AM
This is 3 years old: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/news/beam_feature.html

I guess NASA thinks it's an ok idea.

04-24-2016, 03:42 AM
Thanks for the responses King Neptune and Angry Guy. I needed the reassurance.

04-24-2016, 07:44 AM
They're planning to test an inflatable addition to the ISS, I believe. And either Musk or Branson is designing an inflatable "space hotel", as I understand.


04-25-2016, 02:29 PM
Thank you, blacbird