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The United States Department of Defense has been making plans for the future to construct a small space station to orbit the Earth. The space station will be used to support military satellites, as well as conduct experiments. The station’s also planned to eventually support humans, however considering the tiny size of the station, it will take time until the station will grow to comfortably support a human.
The unit responsible for the Orbital Outpost concept comes from the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) arm of the Pentagon. The DIU is a government entity that provides recurring revenue to companies working to solve national security issues. The DIU has invested in the past in internet technologies, robotics, communication systems, unmanned systems, and much more. Now, the DIU is looking to invest in the Orbital Outpost.
The DIUs plans for the Orbital Outpost include making the tiny space station a self-contained facility. It needs to be capable of being assembled in space, as well as hosting microgravity experimentation, manufacturing, training, holding payloads, and other functions.
The station will need to have robotic arms in order to be able to assemble and fix objects in space. Docking capabilities is also a must, especially when considering that the station has to be capable of supporting humans. That being said, it is very unlikely for the station to support any humans, at least in the first few phases of its life, since the station will have an internal volume of only one cubic meter. So the station will likely be a little too claustrophobic for any efficient human accessibility.
Popularmechanics.com points out that the Orbital Outpost will have a payload capacity of 80 kilograms, a one kilowatt power supply, and will be pressurized. The station will be able to communicate with the ground via satellite. Digital communications from the space station will be at about 100 kilobits per second. For comparison, that’s about 4 minutes of download time for a three minute MP3 file. So that would be considered pretty slow by today’s standards, however considering the station will be a robotic outpost, then there is no need for such high speed communications.
As President Trump continues to make plans to open a sixth branch of the United States Military, the Space Force, it seems likely to believe that operating satellites and space stations such as the Orbital Outpost will be the branches main area of operations.