Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
- Neal Stephenson

Space Bubble (Bubb)  
  An inflatable spacecraft.  

Getting a pound of material into Earth orbit is expensive. Do space ships have to be made of heavy, rigid metal?

The crinkly mass was one of the Bunch's major projects—their first space bubble, or bubb which they had been cutting and shaping with more care and devotion than skill...

Nelsen didn't listen anymore. His and Paul's attention had wandered to the largest color photo thumbtacked to the wall, above the TV set, and the shelf of dog-eared technical books. It showed a fragile, pearly ring, almost diaphanous, hanging tilted against spatial blackness and pinpoint stars. Its hub was a cylindrical spindle, with radial guys of fine, stainless steel wire. It was like the earliest ideas about a space station, yet it was also different. To many—Frank Nelsen and Paul Hendricks certainly included—such devices had as much beauty as a yacht under full sail had ever had for anybody.

Old Paul smirked with pleasure. "It's a shame, ain't it, Frank—calling a pretty thing like that a 'bubb'—it's an ugly word. Or even a 'space bubble.' Technical talk gets kind of cheap."

"I don't mind," Frank Nelsen answered. "Our first one, here, could look just as nice—inflated, and riding free against the stars."

He touched the crinkly material, draped across its wooden support.

"It will," the old man promised. "Funny—not so long ago people thought that space ships would have to be really rigid—all metal. So how did they turn out? Made of stellene, mostly—an improved form of polyethylene—almost the same stuff as a weather balloon."

"A few millimeters thick, light, perfectly flexible when deflated," Nelsen added. "Cut out and cement your bubb together in any shape you choose. Fold it up firmly, like a parachute—it makes a small package that can be carried up into orbit in a blastoff rocket with the best efficiency. There, attached flasks of breathable atmosphere fill it out in a minute. Eight pounds pressure makes it fairly solid in a vacuum. So, behold—you've got breathing and living room, inside. There's nylon cording for increased strength—as in an automobile tire—though not nearly as much. There's a silicone gum between the thin double layers, to seal possible meteor punctures. A darkening lead-salt impregnation in the otherwise transparent stellene cuts radiation entry below the danger level, and filters the glare and the hard ultra-violet out of the sunshine. So there you are, all set up."

"Rig your hub and guy wires," old Paul carried on, cheerfully. "Attach your sun-powered ionic drive, set up your air-restorer, spin your vehicle for centrifuge-gravity, and you're ready to move—out of orbit."

They laughed, because getting into space wasn't as easy as they made it sound. The bubbs, one of the basic inventions that made interplanetary travel possible, were, for all their almost vagabondish simplicity, still a concession in lightness and compactness for atmospheric transit, to that first and greatest problem—breaking the terrific initial grip of Earth's gravity from the ground upward, and gaining stable orbital speed. Only a tremendously costly rocket, with a thrust greater than its own weight when fully loaded, could do that. Buying a blastoff passage had to be expensive.

From The Planet Strappers, by Raymond Z. Gallun.
Published by Pyramid Books in 1961
Additional resources -

Read this description of putting together a space bubble craft in orbit:

Just then the order came, maddeningly calm and hard above the other sounds in Frank's phone: "All novices disembarked from GOs-11 and -12 must clear four-hundred mile take-off orbital zone for other traffic within two hours."

At once Frank was furiously busy, working the darkened stellene of his bubb from the drum, letting it spread like a long wisp of silvery cobweb against the stars, letting it inflate from the air-flasks to a firm and beautiful circle, attaching the rigging, the fine, radial spokewires—for which the blastoff drum itself now formed the hub. To the latter he now attached his full-size, sun-powered ionic motor. Then he crept through the double sealing flaps of the airlock, to install the air-restorer and the moisture-reclaimer in the circular, tunnel-like interior that would now be his habitation.

He wasn't racing anything except time, but he had worked as fast as he could. Still, Gimp Hines had finished rigging his bubb, minutes ahead of Frank, or anybody else. On second thought, maybe this was natural enough. Here, where there was no weight, his useless leg made no difference—as the space-fitness examiners must have known. Besides, Gimp had talented fingers and a keen mechanical sense, and had always tried harder than anybody.

Ramos was almost as quick. Frank wasn't much farther behind. The Kuzaks were likewise doing all right. Two-and-Two was trailing some, but not very badly.

"Spin 'em!" Gimp shouted. "Don't forget to spin 'em for centrifuge-gravity and stability!"

And so they did, each gripping the rigging at their bubb rims, and using the minute but accumulative thrust of the shoulder ionics of their Archers, to provide the push. The inflated rings turned like wheels with perfect bearings. In the all but frictionless void, they could go on turning for decades, without additional impetus.

"We've made it—we're Out Here—we're all right!" Ramos was shouting with a fierce exultation.

Compare to the living-globes from The Beat Cluster (1961) by Fritz Leiber. See the Inflatable Expansion Bubble from Crashlander (1994), by Larry Niven; this article contains more information about Werner von Braun's inflatable space station idea from 1952.

Also, see the airtight tent from Gallun's 1951 story Asteroid of Fear and the Survival Bubble (Beach Ball) from Footfall (1985) by Larry Niven (w/J. Pournelle).

You might also enjoy reading about the asteroid rocket from Salvage in Space (1933) by Jack Williamson which is used to make a sort of minimalist space ship.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Planet Strappers
  More Ideas and Technology by Raymond Z. Gallun
  Tech news articles related to The Planet Strappers
  Tech news articles related to works by Raymond Z. Gallun

Space Bubble (Bubb)-related news articles:
  - Bigelow BEAM Still Useful On ISS
  - Space Station Room Inflated! (Time-Lapse Video)
  - A Look Into The Future Of Spacecraft!

Articles related to Space Tech
Olympus 3D Printing Using Lunar And Martian Materials
'Parastronaut' First Astronaut With Disability From ESA (Updated!)
Mars Space Weather Alert (MSWA) System
Hovering Over The Lunar Surface

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Science Fiction Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Science Fiction in the News

Megachurches Catch Up To Heinlein
'Mars,' the kid repeated, threw Boone a Scout salute and made a sixty-foot leap over the crowd.

Olympus 3D Printing Using Lunar And Martian Materials
The system may be used to create critical infrastructure on the Moon, including landing pads, blast shields, and roads.

Robot Builds Robots From Voxel Subunits
'I was patiently building the most dangerous thing in creation...'

Meltz Neurorehabilitation Robotic Hand
A new type of rehabilitation called "neuro-rehabilitation.

San Francisco Wants ED-209, Or Maybe Robocop
'The Enforcement Droid series 209 is a self-sufficient law enforcement robot...'

Seoul Self-Driving 42dot Bus Unveiled
'Buses without drivers moved close to the curb and stopped at intervals.'

T. Gondii And The Leaders Of The Pack
'... infected males were more than 46 times more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected males.'

'Parastronaut' First Astronaut With Disability From ESA (Updated!)
'He had left Earth to get away from its gravitational field...'

MIT Self-Assembling Reprogrammable Materials
'Faster the cubes moved; faster the circle revolved; the pyramids raised themselves, stood bolt upright on their square bases...'

Mem, The All-Your-Memories, Super Note-Taking App
'Life experience is linearly additive, but the correlation of memory impressions is an unlimited expansion.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Science Fiction Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.