Far Orbit
Long Duration
Inertial Gravity
Self Sufficient

Table of Contents
The Program Overview
The Program Detail
The Research Ship
The Provisions
The Launches
The Science
The Crew
The Store
The Stories

A Space Sciences Initiative

FOLDINGSS is a technology and expertise development and demonstration program. As the name implies, there are four identifying attributes of the program:

Far Orbit To experiment within the environment of deep space, 50% of mission time at minimum Earth orbit of 1,000,000 miles. An Earth orbit provides many launch and return windows for easy program technology and experiment iterations as well as for safety of the final 900 day mission.
Long Duration To test our abilities to support life on a Mars mission timescale, the ultimate mission duration must be 900 days prior to the return to Earth.
Inertial Gravity Data is required for reduced gravity effects during long stays on Luna and Mars. The program documents artificial gravity's effect on crew health on long missions. FOLDINGSS provides a test bed for 1/3G and 1/6G  gravity which is nearly impossible to simulate in any other way.
Self Sufficiency To establish the level of humanities artificial life support skills, no support from Earth is provided after initial provisioning. All food, water, gases, fuels, etc. must be on board from the start.

More discussion of the Programs objectives follows and is categorized according to primary goals, secondary, and tertiary. The prime goals are expected outcomes of the original program scope. The secondary goals are those which could be reasonably accomplished with an expanded timeline and budget after the prime objectives are met. The tertiary objectives outline some possible uses for the programs assets as opposed to simple decommissioning. For a quick comparison of FOLDINGSS against other proposed deep space programs see the link for NASA differences and SpaceX differences. The time is right for a program of this type.

Primary Program Objectives Secondary Optional Program Objectives
  1. Prepare for a crewed journeys beyond Earth's gravitational influence. This implies few launch and return windows which makes for  infrequent opportunities to receive physical support from Earth.
  2. Demonstrate a spacecraft capable of producing inertial gravity (spin gravity) comparable to the gravity experienced on the surface of Mars and Luna.
  3. Document physiological effects on crew at 1/6G and 1/3G over a long duration. Data to be applied to both Lunar habitation, Mars habitation, and deep space travel.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to sustain a crew of humans in good health for a minimum of 900 days continuously. This implies dealing with the limits of habitat area and volume as well as restricted diets and activities.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to maintain the crew in good health. The crew of this long duration mission must be able to perform useful work in the gravity of the specified target body at any point in the journey. Some minimum level of muscle mass and bone density must be maintained throughout the journey.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to perform 1,2, 3 and 4 above while at a mean distance of 1,000,000 miles from Earth for at least 50% of the mission. This establishes humanity has sufficient accommodations for the hazards of deep space including, solar radiation, cosmic radiation, micro-meteorite detection and avoidance, etc.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to perform 1,2,3, 4 and 5 above without receiving any physical support from Earth. The mission must be self sufficient relying entirely on supplies provisioned at the start of the mission. This is the analog to a mission destination where there is no ability deliver supplies due to orbital realities.
  1. Support Lunar programs concurrently by utilizing overlapping crew and/or capabilities. Such as providing ferry services for supplies, crew, or landing craft to Luna.
  2. Support scientific investigations by providing an observation point significantly distant from Earth. As a good deal of the primary objectives require significant loiter time. That time can be utilized in support of other investigations. This can mean trips to Lagrange points, extensive survey of far side of Luna, Earth magnetic field exploration in bow shock and tail.
  3. Provide emergency contingencies to other crewed missions such as Lunar missions. The FOLDINGSS research ship can serve as an emergency hospital or any other sort of port in storm as necessary.
Tertiary Possible Post Program Objectives
  1. Continuous automated deep space observation. The FOLDINGSS research craft could be parked in a distant stable orbit or Lagrange point to conduct additional crewed or automated scientific observations.
  2. Space Hospitality Venue (privately operated). The FOLDINGSS research craft could be parked in an Earth orbit that is reachable by commercial boosters and return craft. Thus acting as a space destination for entertainment or other private space purposes.
  3. Transport vehicle for actual transfer to Martian orbit. Provided sufficient total impulse is available, the FOLDINGSS research vessel could easily serve as the first spacecraft to transport crew to Mars. It could also ferry landing craft. It could also act as a safe point for other Martian explorers should evacuation become necessary. Obviously, it ceases to be a craft in Far Orbit at this point and becomes an Interplanetary spacecraft.

Program Milestones (short list)

  1. Design a ship to accomplish the mission.
    The ship needs a habitat section of sufficient size to support spin gravity of 1/3G at circumference.
    The ship needs a drive section capable of moving the ship from LEO to 1,000,000 miles and back again at least two times with onboard propellant.
    The ship needs a means for crew to pass between the drive sections of the ship and the habitat section
    The ship needs sufficient EVA and assembly support most likely in the form of large robotic arms.
    See two proposed ship configurations for details.
  2. Build all modules for the ship that will fit a 5.1m x 13m fairing
    This will likely include inflatable habitat modules.
  3. Modules will connect using modified Common Berthing Mechanisms (CBM)
  4. Build the ship in LEO using multiple launches starting with the central habitat hub.
  5. Habitat area must recycle water
  6. Habitat area must recycle envelope gases
  7. Habitat area must be able to store or generate 120% of envelope gases required for 900 day mission after allowance for maximum leak rate.
  8. Provision the drive sections with emergency life support and sufficient fuel for the 900 day journey.
  9. Start the Inertial gravity using ion thrusters on the habitat section (simulate 1/3G in outer habitat spaces and approx 1/6G in inner habitat spaces).
  10. Provision the ship for a 900 day journey
  11. Crew the ship (12 souls initial crew, 3 yr commitment)
  12. Move the ship to a 250,000 mile mean orbit (Luna distance) using low impulse maneuvers.
  13. Get the medical labs operational. Establish crew baseline scans, blood work, etc for simulated gravity.
  14. Provide support for any ancillary Luna missions for 4 months while proving the ship.
  15. Move the ship near points L3 and L4. Catalog all Trojans and perform scientific observations of Lagrange points
  16. Move the ship to a 500,000 mile mean orbit of Earth. Characterize the space at this distance including solar radiation, cosmic radiation, and micro-meteor density. Test various radiation shielding systems for effectiveness.
  17. Move the ship to a 1,000,000 mile mean orbit. Continue medical evaluations of the crew. Characterize the space at this distance. Continue horticulture experiments. Continue animal experiments, especially as they relate to reproduction and early mammal development to determine what effects Inertial Gravity (InG) may have.
  18. Continue to monitor food stores and resource recycling systems. Maintain the ship
  19. Perform astronomical observations from a non-earth prospective.
  20. Test the effectiveness of robotic sentinel ships at detecting micro-meteorites and radiation variability.
  21. Prepare reports on terminal crew health.
  22. Move the ship back to LEO using low impulse maneuvers.
  23. Replace the crew.
  24. Certify technologies as sufficient for crewed deep space travel or identify specific areas requiring more development prior to deep space travel.

Program's List of First Ever Accomplishments

  1. Largest Interior Pressurized Crew Space.
  2. First Two Part spacecraft connected by bearings and crew passage.
  3. First ION powered crew propulsion.
  4. Longest duration crewed mission with a single crew (ISS crewed for longer but with different personnel).
  5. Farthest Crewed mission from Earth.
  6. First Crewed mission to use steady state artificial gravity.
  7. First long duration low pressure environment.
  8. Likely firsts in radiation protection.
  9. Likely firsts in radiation treatment.
  10. Likely firsts in water and gas recycling.
  11. Likely firsts in cryogenic fuel creation and storage.

About FOLDINGSS organizaton

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