In-Orbit Construction with a Helical Seam Pipe Mill

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N. Gilhooley (2013), JBIS, 66, 167-170

Refcode: 2013.66.167
Keywords: In-orbit construction, pipe mill, habitat, torus, rotating wheel space station

The challenges of building large structures in space, and in particular a torus habitat, require novel processes. One potential method is to manufacture helical seam (also called spiral) pipe in orbit using a pipe mill. These machines turn rolls of steel or alloy into fully formed, welded and inspected pipe, pressure vessels and silos of various diameters. Pipe mills are highly automated and efficient in a factory environment and are increasingly being used for in-situ repair. By constructing in-orbit (on-orbit assembly) the launch vehicle can supply full payloads of compact, robust rolls of material; and the installation design is less restricted by fairing constraints and modular limitations. The use of a pipe mill is discussed as a possible construction method, for comparison an example design envelope is shown and further pipe mill products are considered.

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