A venusian service dock

Taylor Phillips-Hungerford, Craig McCormack

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper


This project explores the human-centered architectural opportunities present within the Venusian atmosphere, to return public attention back to space travel by emphasizing the value of having a human present on the frontier. Parking a maintenance derrick above the cloud deck of Venus provides an environment which normalizes certain aspects of extraterrestrial activities by increasing pressure and stabilizing temperatures. Most current programs and projects dictate a pressure vessel and considerable amounts of gear to provide habitable volume for people both inside and out of their craft or habitat because the missions objectives reside in near or perfect vacuum. In the Venusian atmosphere, crew will be able to live inside of their lifting envelope and are able to go outside without the aid of a pressure suit. A manned maintenance derrick suspended on the surface of the Venusian cloud deck is the location for humanity's first step into the solar system beyond cis-lunar space. The planet provides many intriguing challenges; while initially very hostile, the atmosphere conceals a veritable oasis for human activity relative to anywhere within striking distance from Earth. The planet's surface is inhospitable; at temperatures exceeding 450 o C and a 96.5% CO2 atmosphere at 93 bar, any surface operations will have to be extremely resilient [1]. The winds circle the planet in 4 days, reaching speeds of up to 360 km/h at the target altitude and these winds will scour the surface of the habitat with sulfuric acid. The demands on a habitat are not lessened by being in atmosphere, they are just different. Probes in this environment have only lasted two days, while landers have lasted a maximum of 117 minutes. A current proposal, Venera-D, has plans to survive for 24 hours on the surface [1]. This is a significant amount of effort for minutes or hours' worth of science and is the impetus for putting a manned work derrick in the clouds; it will dramatically increase the length and thereby, the effectiveness of most research missions. By creating an option to return to a servicing dock, probes and drones can conduct sorties to varying layers of the atmosphere, powered by the sun for above cloud deck operations and by battery, methane rockets, or nuclear-jet engines for deep dives to skim the surface. After each sortie, a crew can service the drones and send them back out on duty. This allows the probes time to cool off, refuel/charge, change out experiments, and to be serviced. The nuances of the Venusian environment combine to create a particularly human-centric mission architecture where the human component is integral to the longevity of any mission.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication70th International Astronautical Conference
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event70th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2019 - Washington, United States
Duration: 21 Oct 201925 Oct 2019


Conference70th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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