Thinking about the future of the JWST, (which hopefully starts and continues perfectly for a long time🤞), when it runs out of fuel, I realized there is currently no provisioning for extending its life.
The reasoning behind that is that adding a mechanism for re-fueling ( in-space ) would add weight and complexity to the spacecraft. which makes sense. also, a refueling mission could be prohibitively expensive.
but as a solution architect, I thought that may not be the right way to think about it. in my field of work, whenever I make such a decision ( to not add a complex feature at the very beginning ), and we make a lot of them, I make sure of one thing: to not block the future implementation of it. In other words, not adding the feature, but leaving its requirements in the foundation, so it can be added at a later time if needed. this makes it a future-proof design. the fact that you can upgrade it rather than replacing it.
This kind of stuff is what defines my job, otherwise, really, anyone can design half-standing solutions that work for the time, but usually need to be replaced later on.
JWST is of course not a badly designed system, not at all, it’s in fact as far from it as it gets, a marvel of engineering and ways over my understandings of mechanical engineering or a lack thereof! but everything can be improved. Plus even though I could very possibly be wrong, it never hurts to share an idea and start a conversation, at a minimum it helps to make what goes into designing such a system a bit more public! so here we go.
There are projects in progress or even in use that let for instance different kinds of space crafts dock to each other, like Soyuz docking at ISS.
What I’m proposing however is more of a hitch mechanism. a small interface in the main chassis/body of the craft that lets another machine to grab or connect to it.
It should have a basic, mechanical…