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I'm assuming a recovery and launch bay, where ships enter and leave the station, would be the most dangerous place on such a station.

While it wouldn't be nearly as dangerous as the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, which is called the most dangerous 4½ acres in the world, it seems to me there would be more dangers on a recovery and launch bay than any place on a station.

Could there be any other place on such a station that could present a greater ongoing danger to life and the station itself?

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    $\begingroup$ We have no actual example of a rotating wheel station, and you provide no details. How can we answer in an objective way? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica May 31 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ Obvious answer, "the outside". $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime May 31 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime, make that "the sunward facing outside". Might as well get cooked while your suffocating and decompressing. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor May 31 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ And to forestall any argument about how all this is needed for story reasons, I give you Galaxy Quest's take on all this which you may as well duplicate if you're throwing common sense out of the airlock ;-) $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime May 31 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ "Anywhere the armed staff doesn't want you nosing around" strikes me as a contender too. $\endgroup$ – Cadence May 31 at 14:16
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Its a bit of a weird question, for the reasons others have put in the comments.

While the exact answer will depend a lot on what kind of technology you assume it seems very reasonable to assume that the launch bay will be designed to operate entirely mechanically (mechanical arms doing the refuelling and the like, probably automated but perhaps some remote control).

It would also probably be in vacuum. (Why would you bother filling it with air? That would require an airlock to open each time a new vessel arrives or leaves.)

Based on these assumptions it is an area that is exposed to open space, and full of spacecraft flying in and out (probably on autopilot). The pilots (either human or auto) will not be expecting some idiot to be space-walking around trying to get themselves killed, so will not be on the look out for them. If the place is well designed they will probably just be happy that they have space-traffic control clearance and assume nothing will be in the way.

So their is no real reason (assuming sensible automation is possible) for a human to ever be wondering around the docking bay (in a space-suit or otherwise). If someone were walking about they would be in a lot of danger. But their is also no reason for a person to be in the nuclear reactor core, and a person in that location would be in far more danger.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, a reactor core is potentially far more dangerous, except for the fact that, as I understand it, there are few moving parts that could create accidents in a core. On a flight deck, with ships regularly coming in and out, wouldn't that be more dangerous than the static environment of a core. If a flight deck would not be a place where more accidents could happen, even if caused by problems with the mechanical workings of the deck, then that is what I want to consider. $\endgroup$ – Bob516 May 31 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Bob516 the reactor core is probably quite safe. Why build it so people could get in? have a look how submarine reactor compartments are laid out. It can't go bang (because reactors don't go bang) and it could be placed safely and securely some distance from the habitation area, probably airgapped, so radiation is never gonna leak into there either. The reactor core is probably the safest place, on reflection. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime May 31 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime I didn't think the reactor core was really unsafe. I was just agreeing with the premise for the sake of responding to the answer. $\endgroup$ – Bob516 May 31 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ The reactor core comment is more a matter of technicality. I was imagining that the poor person suddenly finds themselves standing (either with or without a spacesuit) right IN the actual reactor. Swimming in the liquid sodium of of this diagram: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium-cooled_fast_reactor#/media/…, touching the bit labelled "core". I assume this would mean instant death - so nowhere could be more dangerous (although some places might be equally dangerous). $\endgroup$ – Dast Jun 3 at 15:47

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