A paper describes the Octanode, a connecting node that facilitates the integration of multiple docking mechanisms, hatches, windows, and internal and external systems with the use of flat surfaces. The Octanode is a 26-faced Great Rhombicuboctahedron Archimedean solid with six octagon-shaped panels, eight hexagon-shaped panels, and 12 square panels using three unique, simple, flat shapes to construct a spherical approximation. Each flat shape can be constructed with a variety of material and manufacturing techniques, such as honeycomb composite panels or a pocketed skin-stringer configuration, using conventional means.

The flat shapes can be connected together and sealed to create a pressurizable volume by the use of any conventional means including welding or fastening devices and sealant. The node can then be connected to other elements to allow transfer between those elements, or it could serve as an airlock. The Octanode can be manufactured on the ground and can be integrated with subsystems including hatches and ports. The node can then be transported to its intended location, whether on orbit or on surface. Any of the flat panels could be replaced by curved ones, turning the node into a copula.

Windows may be placed on flat panes with optimal viewing angles that are not blocked by large connecting nodes. The advantage of using flat panels to represent a spherical approximation is that this allows for easier integration of subsystems and design features.

This work was done by Christopher J. Johnson, Jasen L. Raboin, and Gary R. Spexarth for Johnson Space Center.

This invention is owned by NASA, and a patent application has been filed. Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Johnson Space Center, (281) 483-1003. Refer to MSC-24216-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2009 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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