Inflatable Form Construction in Space

by Richard A. Kaden, US Dep of the Army, United States,
Leonard D. Pense, US Dep of the Army, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space


In 1973, NASA launched Skylab 1 using a modified third stage of a Saturn V Rocket. This orbital workshop proved to be a success even though problems occurred. This article discusses the innovative use of a double-walled inflatable form (IF) for constructing temporary or low-cost disposable structures. IF may serve as bulk cargo storage, exercise rooms, low-tech space laboratory or experimental areas, and waste tanks. The article postulates that not all space structures have to be of the sophistication that was illustrated in Skylab. With advances in flexible membranes, IF modules may be either taken into space as material containers or built in space, saving cargo volume on future shuttle flights. The article suggests that a construction cluster may be assembled in space from module containers.

Subject Headings: Space stations | Waste storage | Space structures | Federal government | Orbits | Innovation | Walls | Benefit cost ratios

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