The concept

The Arrakis is an inflatable vehicle designed to ferry astronauts and their cargo in space.

The background

When I created the SpaceCross concept, I got some pretty good feedback from a friend of mine named Olivier Peraldi, who’s had a lot of experience with Microgravity (And Space) while completing over 1 200 parabolic with Astronauts in NASA’s KC 135 based in Houston.  Oliver suggested that I use an inflatable spacecraft design to protect the fuel and oxygen tanks, and gave me a lot of feedback on how to secure the Astronauts.

How it works

The Arrakis looks like a space pontoon. It has a large modular composite platform with multiple hooks on which you can secure tools and equipment, and two inflatable tubes located on each side. The propergol tanks are used as fuel to propel the spacecraft, and are located under the platform to protect them from impacts. Oxygen tanks are also located under the platform, along with and electric winches, batteries and controls systems of the Arrakis. On each end of the vehicle there are two orientable gas thrusters that serve to propel the craft along the longitudinal axis. There are also some thrusters on the side for up and down movement. I have also planned to deploy flexible solar panels on each side of the vehicle to charge the batteries – these solar panels could be rolled inside a small housing inside the platform.

To secure the astronaut, I positioned two solid ‘arches’ that can be adjusted near the waistline of the suit. These cushioned arches are equipped with two rings on which the occupant can attach safety clips on each side. There are also two magnetic foot pegs to secure the astronaut in place. These can be activated by a switch or fastened manually. The controls for the vehicles are located on the arch, and they are designed to withstand impact and can be switched from one side to the other as a redundancy. Cameras and Radars would be embedded in the modular platform so the Arrakis could be operated remotely by Astronauts without anyone on board.

It might be difficult to imagine today, but in the future there will be much more space structures in orbit and some of them will be positioned near each other for practical and safety reasons (For instance, the proximity of resources). The Arrakis could thus be used to ferry food, fuel, tools, robots and passengers between these modules separated by a few miles. Once up there, the Arrakis could serve for years as robust and efficient space ferry.

What it’s used for

It would serve as a transport vessel between space research laboratories like the International Space Station and space complex like Bigelow Aerospace’s BA 330 Module. It could also be used to reach orbiting spacecrafts such as the Dream Chaser from Sierra Nevada Corporation (if they can be accessed without any docking station).

The designer

The images of the Arrakis were created by Jan Bujnak, who is based in Slovakia and who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Jan Bujnak also produced the images of the Night Car and the Otobuxi.