The MODroc project shares the same basic objectives as the UltraLight SSTO but would seek to realize them with a different but equally radical approach to spacecraft fabrication. The letters MOD in MODroc stand for Manufacture On Demand which is a reference to the fact that this project would seek to develop not just a spacecraft but a fabber-based technology for the automated manufacturing of an entire vehicle on demand and custom-scaled to suit its payloads. These vehicles would have a largely monolithic composition, with engine, fuel and oxidizer tanking, structure and many other elements all fully integrated to one another and fabricated whole, additional small modular components added to the primary structure during its fabrication process. The materials used to make this monolithic structure would be engineered for primarily additive-type fabber production using the massive MODroc Fabber system and easy recycling, the design of the vehicle adapted to accommodate for less-than-optimal physical performance for these kinds of materials in some applications – though this would become less important as fabber technology evolves toward the synthesis of diamondoid materials.
The basic form of the MODroc vehicle would be similar to those of the UltraLight and the Exocet, consisting of a squat cylinder or cone-shaped SSTO vehicle with radial aerospike propulsion designed to launch from any flat surface or optionally in water. But the MODroc design would exist primarily as an AI-moderated computer model automatically adapted when one provides the physical parameters of the payload and so producing a custom vehicle for each launch. A dual-stage variant may also be employed to support GEO access.
Using the MOD strategy, the MODroc project would favor recyclability over reusability. The vehicles would be single-use but designed to maximize their recoverability and protect the modular parts that the MODroc Fabber system cannot make itself, using ballistic reentry and simple parachutes and airbags to return them to the Earth’s surface with a rough landing where they would be disassembled, shredded, and recycled for raw materials, their surviving modular components removed and refurbished. Since all Bifrost program activity is likely to take place at sea using marine colonies or independent marine platforms as space centers, the MODroc project may also require the development of sophisticated recovery ships and robotic submersibles.
The use of fabber technology is likely throughout the Bifrost progam but the MODroc project would use it in the most comprehensive way and would call for one of the largest and most advanced forms of fabber to ever be developed. Thus it is likely to remain in an experimental stage of development for a protracted period, likely emerging well after the start of the Exocet project and possibly not producing a fully functional fabber and launch system for a very long time. But in the process it will lend technology and innovation to every other Bifrost project and, when realized, will likely obsolesce the UltraLight system for its lowest-cost bulk transit role. Long-term, as fabber technology realizes the capability to synthesize diamondoid materials, the MODroc Fabber system may ultimately evolve into the standard technology for most spacecraft fabrication.
- Mountain Waverider
- UltraLight SSTO
- Marine Mass Launcher - MML
- Bifrost Space Elevator
- Bifrost Support Systems