18 thoughts on “Beings Making Space Livable”

  1. While reading the article and analogy occurred to me, which is that living in space without spinning and shielding is analogous to living on the ocean without a proper ship. The ocean doesn’t itself provide decks for land animals to stand on, nor any way to cook, or any shelter from the weather. We have to build those into the vessels we’ll inhabit. Spend six months floating in the Atlantic on a life raft and you wouldn’t be in the best of health, either. The space vessels we’ve built so far are more like life rafts (or escape pods). They don’t provide a fully human-adapted environment yet, but they are teaching us how we can best cope with the conditions when we’re roughing it, and how we can survive the equivalent of six months at sea in an open boat. Such craft are still ubiquitous because they’re cheap, simple, and useful, even though we’ve gone on to build cruise liners, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and offshore platforms for extended operations in the alien environment of the ocean. In the long term, rowing a boat across the Atlantic may prove impractical for all but the hardiest of souls, but that didn’t mean crossing the Atlantic would always be impractical, it meant that we built bigger boats that were better suited to a land species.

    1. Zubrin’s logic is unsound. Just because the King is from Kenya doesn’t mean all his subjects are.


  2. Picture both Dragon1 & Dragon2 as ‘half a Mars mission’.

    Dragon1 launches toward Mars, Dragon2 launches toward Mars.
    Dragon1 & Dragon2 rendezvous after the boost phase and attach three separate tethers (where 1 should be sufficient).
    Separate and spin.

    I keep thinking the -tether- for this is quite doable, reasonably light, and a whole lot simpler that making a single ‘spaceship’ large enough to ‘just’ rotate. Yes? No? Crazed?

    The tether release also allows interesting thinking about which vectors would be most interesting.

  3. “As the article hints at, habitats in space can rotate to provide spin gravity, which can reduce or eliminate the effects of microgravity. ”

    Maybe. It would be nice to know for sure.

    “A recent version of such a vehicle is the Nautilus-X concept…in-space infrastructure systems like this could be under development today.”

    Could someone comment on whether or not the components for this could be launched with existing launchers?

    1. The inflatable parts (including the torus) could be launched on Atlas, Delta, or Falcon, but that 6.5 by 14 meter main corridor might be problematic.

      1. I seem to remember reading something about New Shepard having a larger fairing but could not find anything about it with a quick search. Fairing diameters sometimes lose out in a discussion about what limits launchers.

  4. It’s a travesty that more than 50 years into human spaceflight we haven’t done some of the most basic work required to determine (for example) what g levels are tolerable in the long term. The ISS’s animal centrifuge ended up in a Japanese exhibit park of some sort. This basic research always gets cut because we haven’t gotten serious about space as a future habitat for humanity, just as a spot for all too brief visits.

    A few years ago, the Space Studies Institute proposed a lab co-orbiting with ISS for centrifuge studies, to be funded at a few hundred million by a benefactor like those who give to hospitals, or who used to finance big telescopes. No one has bitten to date.

    We have no idea if Martian, let alone Lunar gravity is tolerable in the long term. People prefer to dream about spaceships to get there, but whether we’ll be able to stay on the surface without (say) spending time in a centrifuge (less tolerable on the ‘ground’ then in a free-space ship, I think) is a big question mark.

    1. Plus, if we go anywhere long term we’ll want chickens and a few other things that can’t easily be adapted to zero G because they have bad bathroom habits. If you take a more expansive view of what mankind is, it would include the collection of associated crops, farm animals, and pets. Surely we wouldn’t strip ourselves of thousands of years of interdependency just because we’re too dumb to spin a torus.

  5. In the long term, there will be other problems to solve. We didn’t evolve to live in caves, so any settlment that mimics one will cause some problems. Some things we can imagine but some will be unexpected. For settlements to take root, they will have to be an enjoyable place to live and that is a much different requirement to meet than survival.

    Imagine the teenage angst of a kid born in a tin can or hole in the ground who knows the limits of his freedom and what life is like on Earth. People who are born off-world are likely to be descriminated against upon their return to the homeworld. One has only to read the negative comments about space in general to know this is true.

      1. Yes, and we can imagine what some cool subterranean settlements would look like on Mars, Europa, or someplace else but who knows if ideas of how humans can adapt to these environments will be accurate. Only one way to find out…

        1. There’s more than one way to find out. We can start with the centrifuge, launching it to the ISS, and testing whether a minimal acceleration makes a difference in astronaut health.

        2. One of the nice things about the large lavatubes found on Mars and the Moon is that their walls will provide a firm foundation to anchor a centrifuge. However, a full 9.81m/sec^2, with a 1 rpm rotation to keep inner ear problems down requires a full 1.8km diameter lavatube, …which is probably beyond anything on the Moon, much less Mars. Hadley Rille isn’t that big, and it is a collapse trench.

          So, do we risk inner ear problems, by speeding up the rotation, ..or do we accept partial Earth gravity? Or, …alternatives like long bone electrical stimulation can help a lot. This doesn’t begin to talk about the possibilities for changing the amount of gravity needed by the human body to stimulate Calcium deposition in bones. Change that, and we might get by with .981m/sec^2. That would mean a centrifuge that’s easily doable.

  6. Another example of fish being blind to water.

    The EARTH will kill us without terraforming!!! Which we do every time we clothe ourselves.


    We can’t live here without all the things that make it possible. To suggest we can’t live elsewhere is just one thing…


    The meta-question is economics… which is just more blind fish.

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