Modular Space Station (Dec. 1962)

While the Apollo lunar program was acknowledged to be the top American space priority, both NASA and the U.S. Air Force were studying space stations. NASA had concepts for large platforms hosting up to a dozen astronauts that might be launched in the early 1970s. McDonnell thought that a small space station based on Gemini could be a forerunner of such large stations and provide some preliminary development before committing to larger platforms. 

This led to an in-house study, “Modular Space Station Evolving from Gemini,” Report No. 9572, dated 15 December 1962. This was a modular station based on five elements:

  • Gemini transport
  • Supply module
  • One-Room space station
  • Two-Room space station
  • Electrical power module

The proposal included a crew hatch in the heat shield (which originally appeared in the MTSS study) and the possibility of refurbishment and reuse of the Gemini crew capsules. This effort apparently was where McDonnell came up with the “ring and fork” aft docking concept for Gemini, which was seen on several later proposals, even including Big G.

In late 2021, I built a model of this. It used the 1/48th scale kit from Revell and a piece of 2/5 inch tubing. The tunnel and docking ring and fork were all scratchbuilt.