3DWannabe Blog

Archive for February, 2011

The Station

by on Feb.19, 2011, under General, Science

So, what’s this space station going to look like. Since humans are pretty sensitive to Coriolis forces I’m going to use a maximum of 2 rpm. I need a disk 170m in diameter at that spin to simulate Mars’s gravity.  The intermediate rim for the moon crew has a diameter of 72m.  Let’s set the width of both at 5m and the roof height at 4m. Gives you a meter above and below, right and left for duct work, wiring, counterbalance system etc. The picture below shows the wagon wheel station and a 747 for a size comparison.


To big? You’ve decided only to worry about the moons gravity and use that data to make a Mars decision? Probably a good choice, now you only need to build the inner ring and hub. The inner ring and hub is actually smaller than the current ISS and would probably mass about the same. (You have the option of revising the spin to 3rpm at some point, that would give you Mars’ gravity)  Another couple hundred billion and 10 more years? No, not if we use our heads and not leave it to congress this time. The current ISS was way over budget and behind schedule. NASA incompetence? Not quite. The original assumptions were based on the approval of a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle, the C vehicle circa 1987. Boeing quoted $500 hundred million to develop it, congress canceled it. (Wasn’t that expensive because it was never intended to be man-rated, just move cargo in to orbit.) Each launch would have put 150,000 pounds in to orbit. The final weight of the ISS is 800,000 pounds.  That would be 6 launches. About 2 years worth and much cheaper to build since you could put more together here on earth and have less space assembly.  A few years and your done. Cancel the heavy lift, break it in to tiny pieces, have manned launches to put it together and you get what you currently have. Since that time, the heavy lift concept has been revised to the J232, which is 230,000 pounds per launch. Four cargo launches and you have everything you need in orbit.

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Give In To Gravity

by on Feb.15, 2011, under General, Science

There was a story the other day about the end of the space shuttle. It got me thinking about the space program and how things could have been different. One big change that should be made is the 40 year focus on trying to make humans survive long term in a zero g environment. Well, after 40 years of trying it’s time to learn from the evidence, you can’t. 3 billion years of evolution has won. Humans need the resistance of gravity to develop and maintain health. The space station is the 100 billion dollar period on that conclusion. Let’s call it lesson learned and move on.
This gives us a big problem. All plans for space assume that we can survive and prosper in less than one g of gravity. The moon’s gravity is 1/6 that of the Earth. All of Zubrin’s plans for Mars hinge on the fact that 40% gravity is enough. What if those assumptions are wrong? What if we can only visit these places, not live there? From this point on, all our gravity research should have a different focus, to see what the bodies limits are.
There have been plans for rotating space stations floating (sic) around almost since the first genius figured out that a rock spun around your head wants to fly away. Let’s build one. Put it near the ISS, zero g industry may be the future, but our factory workers will need to return to a gravity environment. Basically you’ll need a hollow tire / wheel with spokes going up to the hub. Two living levels. One, the ‘bottom’ level would have 40% gravity, like Mars. The upper tier would have 15% gravity, like the moon. Put long term crews on each, let’s find the answer to the question, can we survive in these gravity environments before building colonies. If the answer is no, particularly if you opt for one of the one way methods for your colony, you might be condemning those people to a long, slow, painful failure.
While this seems to be basic research, it holds the key to human space exploration. Will our future be in rotating habitats building empires in the asteroid belt, or expanding colonies on the multitude of planets and moons in the solar system. The future, our future, hangs on the results.

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