Airbus unveiled its LOOP concept, a multi-purpose orbital module that foreshadows future space stations.
LOOP is an eight-meter-wide cylindrical module divided into three decks placed on three levels:
- A habitation deck with crew quarters and an exercise bay
- A science deck complete with the necessary equipment for orbital experimentation
- A centrifuge deck that can recreate gravity conditions to reduce the stress of weightlessness on the human body
The three decks are traversed by a central tunnel surrounded by a greenhouse. The module can house four astronauts, and temporarily accommodate up to eight.
A successor to the International Space Station?
With the retirement of the International Space Station slated for 2031, the Airbus LOOP design could take over either in the Earth’s or Moon’s orbit or be used for longer space voyages.
“The Airbus LOOP is designed to fit with the upcoming generation of super-heavy launchers that can launch an entire module in one piece,” Airbus Defence and Space explained in a press release. “Thus, the Airbus LOOP is immediately operational once in orbit, ready to host humans and payloads.”
In the framework of NASA’s new mission to send astronauts to the Moon and maybe one day to Mars, the Artemis program, two “mega rockets” were unveiled: NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and the SpaceX Starship. The two launchers can transport up to 100 metric tons of payload into orbit.