NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement Milestone 6: Use of Rotational Artificial Gravity for Habitats and Industry

Building rotating structures that can produce artificial gravity of the desired strength.

rotating habitatTwo temporarily connected rotating habitats (with surrounding habitat storage for shielding) with aerocapture shields for use at Mars. Image: [email protected]

DESCRIPTION

Practical artificial gravity is currently possible only by rotation. The simplest form consists of two habitats rotating around each other on a cable. Larger, more permanent systems such as a torus habitat require larger construction efforts. In such a structure, “down” is away from the center of rotation.

COMPONENTS (types of uses)

There are at least three basic uses for artificial gravity:

  • Vehicles or habitats for lengthy human occupancy.
  • Transferring cryogenic propellants.
  • Mines and smelters for harvesting and using materials from asteroids.

BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE

Producing significant artificial gravity via acceleration can last only a few minutes.  However, there seems to be no insurmountable barriers to using rotation to create artificial gravity.  The problem is bureaucratic, economic and physical. Rotating environments need to be designed to reduce severe damage from collisions and to reduce fire threats from convection of hot air (which does not occur in a microgravity environment). Such environments should be large enough to be well tolerated by the occupants.

BARRIERS

  • Perceived difficulties in creating rotating environments versus microgravity environments
  • Risk of collision between spacecraft and parts of rotating environments
  • Greater fire threat inside rotating environments
  • Larger economic cost for building large rotating environments with lower rotation rates
  • Belief by many, especially in government, that there is no requirement for artificial gravity in order to achieve the limited space goals they perceive.

COMPLETION

This milestone can be considered achieved if rotational gravity is used in a human-inhabited module anywhere in space during routine operations.

MORE OF THE NSS ROADMAP TO SPACE SETTLEMENT:

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