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Space Station Shutters

In his memorable 1961 story The Beat Cluster, science fiction author Fritz Leiber describes life in transparent bubbles in space. When necessary, residents would shield themselves from the sun using sun-quilts:


(Living-Globes from 'The Beat Cluster' by Fritz Leiber)

It was mostly this sunlight reflected by the parent satellite, however, that now illuminated Fats Jordan and the other “floaters” of the Beat Cluster. A huge sun-quilt was untidily spread (staying approximately where it was put, like all objects in freefall) against most of the inside of the Big Igloo away from the satellite. The sun-quilt was a patchwork of colors and materials on the inward side, but silvered on the outward side, as turned-over edges and corners showed. Similar “Hollywood Blankets” protected the other igloos from the undesirable heating effects of too much sunlight and, of course, blocked off the sun’s disk from view.

The real-life International Space Station is mostly enclosed, but it does have a cupola, or dome, with seven windows. There is a means to shade occupants who would like less direct sunlight:

With final design and assembly by the Italian contractor Alenia Spazio (now Thales Alenia Space), it is nearly 3 metres in diameter and 1.5 metres tall. It has six side windows and a top window, all of which are equipped with shutters to protect them from damage by micrometeoroids and orbital debris. It features a thermal control system, audio, video and MIL-STD-1553 bus interfaces, as well as the connections needed for installing one of the two identical workstations that control the robotic manipulator Canadarm2.

Each window is composed of 4 separate layers ('panes'): An outer debris pane, two 25 mm pressure panes, and an inner scratch pane. Each pressure pane and debris pane is made from fused silica glass. The panes can be replaced in-orbit after an external pressure cover has been fitted.

The window shutters are manually controlled. Each window has a knob with a direct mechanical linkage to the outside shutter assembly. O-rings are used to prevent air leakage.

(Via Wikipedia.)

The bubbles in space described in the story were made of the fictional material sealingsilk.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/13/2022)

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