So, in the S.S Portland (The main setting of my story) there is a variety of rooms. A lounge, a lab, etc. so, i was thinking that at some point, the lounge would be changed out for a 0-g pool. A band of 4-10 robots would grasp the room, detach it, and carry it to the space station. the new room would then be delivered. Although, would swapping rooms like that be possible? would there be any seismic activity? Or would it be calm?

  • $\begingroup$ The robots carry the room from the space station to the space station? $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Mar 6 '20 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't it a "simple" engineering problem? With suitable planning and infrastructure of course you can attach, detach, transport etc. components, large and small, with as little rattling as required. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 6 '20 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ Do you ask "how would furniture react" if they were moved from 0g enviroment into stations that have fake gravity field? $\endgroup$ Mar 6 '20 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ Not clear what you are asking. Can you be more specific? $\endgroup$
    – puppetsock
    Mar 6 '20 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "seismic" forces on a spacecraft? Do you mean "would it cause vibrations in the hull?" $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Mar 6 '20 at 18:01


enter image description here


Here is a space capsule docking with the international space station. Your room addition would be similar. The old room would pack up and leave and the new room would sidle up and lock on. That space capsule does not have a 0-g pool (because they are very dangerous) but it does have a squash court and a locker room.

I suspect that persons on the capsule and on the space station would feel a jolt as the two made contact although if the docking bay were made with some sort of shock absorbing bumpers you could minimize that effect.

  • $\begingroup$ If Dragon or Souez docks with ISS properly, there is no jolt at all. They are moving at extremely slow relative speeds when they contact. It’s rather important that they not jolt... they would sheer off bits and break air seals. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Mar 8 '20 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Here’s a 2.5 minute video of the first docking of Dragon with ISS. Note the extreme slow speed of the Canada arm as it grabs the capsule, and how still Dragon is in the video: it is already as nearly perfectly speed-synced to ISS as possible before capture is attempted. youtu.be/ccNJDwJNngQ $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Mar 8 '20 at 14:22

There are issues - often practical, but some geometrical - to consider.

With experience in modular building construction, I have some thoughts to share.

The issue with interchangeable rooms are:

  • Not all rooms have the same dimensions. This creates a geometric problem, as it would not be able to feed into a superstructure easily without major reconfiguration.
  • You cannot predict if a room has external walls or would be an internal wall. There are different requirements for both, but let's say in space this is much more so. So effectively you are wasting resources on treating every wall as an external wall.
  • Connections are complicated and prone to failure. Unfortunately where modules connect are potential weak points, requiring sealing, attention and generally extra complexity.

So modules work in real life with same-apartment types, but not with any different ones: enter image description here

The benefits (being primarily ease of construction) do not really outweigh the costs unless you deal with the other issues above. Possible solutions could be:

  • Consider prefabricated, rather than modular. Eg. Wall panels that can be assembled to any geometry.
  • Consider a variety of wall types. Eg. External and internal to suit different applications
  • Consider simplifying connections. Eg. No complicated airlocks - external envelope essentially is external walls, and internal walls are the ones that change configuration.

An example of prefabricated construction, which I would think would be more suitable in your case: enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ This is a great general answer, but the need for a space station (or submarine) to have sections that can be easily sealed off in event of a leak generally precludes the single big room with reconfigurable walls. The design needed for airtight seals needs permanent placement. Sure it can be done, but the design expense is huge... my suspicion is that movable walls are impractical balanced against cost and safety. The docking rooms answer seems better in space. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Mar 8 '20 at 14:14

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