The decisive idea for the habitat wheel, creating living conditions as comfortable as possible must be of secondary importance for the observatory and machine room compared to the requirement for making these systems primarily suitable for fulfilling their special tasks. For this reason, eliminating the weightless state is omitted, as noted previously, for these systems.
Primarily, it is important for the observatory (Figure 91) that any arbitrary orientation in space, which is necessitated by the observations to be carried out, can easily be assumed. It must, therefore, be completely independent of the sun's position; consequently, it may not have any of the previously described equipment that is powered by solar radiation. For this reason, ventilation and the simultaneous heating of the observatory as well as its electrical supply take place from the machine room; consequently, both units are connected also by a flexible tube as well as a cable (Figures 91 and 92). Nevertheless, a precaution is taken to ensure that the ventilation of the observatory can also be carried out automatically in an emergency by employing purification cartridges, as is customary in modern diving suits.
Figure 91. An example of the design of an observatory. Taking into account the over-pressure of 1 atm. existing inside, the observatory resembles a boiler. The air lock, two electrical cables (left), the flexible air tube (right) and the Bull's eyes can be seen.
The observatory contains the following equipment: primarily, remote observation equipment in accordance with the intended purpose of this unit and, furthermore, all controls necessary for remote observations, like those needed for the space mirror (see the following). Finally, a laboratory for performing experiments in the weightless state is also located in the observatory.
The machine room is designed for housing the major mechanical and electrical systems common to the entire space station, in particular those that serve for the large-scale utilization of the sun's radiation. Primarily, it contains the main solar power plant including storage batteries. Furthermore, all of the equipment in the large transmission station is located here, and finally, there is a ventilation system, which simultaneously supplies the observatory.
Figure 92. The flexible tube for connecting the observatory with the ventilation system in the machine room.
Key: 1. To the machine room; 2. Spent air; 3. Regenerated and heated air; 4. To the observatory.
Collecting solar energy takes place through a huge concave mirror firmly connected to the machine room (Figure 93), in whose focal point the evaporating and heating pipes are located, while the condenser and cooling pipes are attached to its back side. The orientation of the machine room is, therefore, determined beforehand: the concave mirror must always squarely face the sun.
Figure 93. Example of the design of the machine room shown in the axial cross section.
Key: 1. Condenser pipes; 2. Machine room; 3. Air lock; 4. Evaporating pipes.
Lighting of both the observatory and machine room is achieved in the manner already described in general for the space station. All external surfaces of the units are highly polished in order to reduce the cooling effect. Finally, both units are also equipped with attitude control motors and thrusters.
Kitchens, water purification systems, washing facilities, and similar systems are missing, however, because of the very troublesome properties of liquids in the weightless state. The habitat wheel is available for eating and personal hygiene. Necessary food and beverages in the observatory and machine room must be brought in from the habitat wheel, prepared in a manner compatible with the weightless state.