• Question: What is the closest distance you could get a space station to the sun?

    Asked by Tyler B to Andrea, Charlie ๐Ÿš€, Col Op, Kirsty on 22 Jun 2016.
    • Photo: Kirsty Lindsay

      Kirsty Lindsay answered on 22 Jun 2016:

      The ISS orbits about 400 km above the Earth- we call this Low Earth Orbit, it’s about as far away as York is from London. This means the ISS can be 400 km closer to the sun than the Earth, which in space isn’t very far because the Sun is many times that distance away from us.

    • Photo: Columbus Operations

      Columbus Operations answered on 22 Jun 2016:

      If you were to place a Space Station in Sun’s orbit, you’d burn easily if you went to close. So a proper heatshield is the least you need, also you need to make sure that you have capable supply vehicles for food, consumables and the crew, of course.

      I think the capabilities of modern heat shield determine how close you can technically get. But on top of my head, I have no idea. You’d need to run some serious calculations to see how all the radiation and heat affect a station close to Sun.

    • Photo: Andrea Boyd

      Andrea Boyd answered on 23 Jun 2016:

      I agree with COL OPS. And ironically you can’t just use solar panels for power if you are too close to the sun, because they won’t work after a certain temperature. You’d need liquid salt power or something more advanced. So it totally depends on the heat shield, but probably not much closer than Mercury.