Science speculation

Ok so here is a place for theory and and things that haven’t gotten to there destinations yet.

Giant, spinning space-stations that generate their own artificial gravity have been envisaged for decades. So, why has no one built one?

I don’t see why this can’t be in the science thread…but why not.

The short answer is lack of cheap access to space and large lifters. Such a station would be massive and either require many small launches(expensive) or be launched in a single large launcher that currently does not exist(>100mt) and still be capable of fitting in a fairing? Not likely.

Yeah it would be cool and a huge step forward, something Chinese might well do all on their own in good time. Something the size of the London Eye rotating 4 times a minute is some massive structure to build in space and would require Saturn 5 level of lifter or much bigger. And international co-operation and budget to match. If the major governments of the world pulled together, this would happen very quickly. The large countries offering ways for smaller less rich countries to be part of the project. But with so much war,death, and displaced migration happening right now, so much anger between and nation states and rouge states. How could this sort of project even get started.

It might also be best to de-clutter Earth orbit area first of all the junk before embarking on such a venture facilitating easy transit back and fourth and working space for such a project. This is something the current space fairing nations could work together and get done. Less we want to see something along the line the film ‘Gravity’ portrays.

Something less large and more experimental first might be better, to try and resolve the issues on the human body with spin gravity. Docking and working in the centre section in zero-g and then moving via ladder or elevator out to the spinning outer section coming under 1g is going to make humans feel quite nauseas. Some method for this daily transit route will need to be worked out.

Climbing on ladders is one way, but not very good for paying space hotel customers so an elevator would be required, maybe a few of them for safety. even so, its still going to induce some spin nausea going both ways.

A good ‘sick bag’ system and disposal should be implemented. I see a business opportunity here, Jonnyredhed’s ‘puke’m space nausea bags’, ‘comes with own breathe mint!’ (copyright Jonnyredhed)

Also, space suits for fat people. Its going to have to be a thing eventually when space hotels are common place in Earth and Moon orbit. Going EVA when your 26+ stone in a suit is going to be a real business one day, and a profitable one I bet.

The shorter answer is that there isn’t a reason to put people into space. We’re not designed for it, and it is a terrible waste of resources trying to create an environment that caters to a form that was optimized for life on Earth. We’ve had Opportunity trundling around Mars for 13 years now. Robots will always be the better choice because they are designed for the environment in which they operate.

With the advances in technology that we produce here on Earth, robots will only become more capable. In time, they will exceed our own capabilities. Today they are our explorers. In the future, they’ll be our miners and technicians for off-planet operations.

Long term, the only reason that I can think of for a spinning space station is tourism and the desire to experience low gravity.

Missed opportunity to make a bad pun and ask how the project "gets off the ground

[quote=“JonnyRedHed, post:3, topic:3186”]
It might also be best to de-clutter Earth orbit area first of all the junk before embarking on such a venture facilitating easy transit back and fourth and working space for such a project. This is something the current space fairing nations could work together and get done. Less we want to see something along the line the film ‘Gravity’ portrays.

That’s something that’s not really necessary currently. There is a bit of debris up there, but space is a lot bigger than you think. Usually, the closest debris comes to anything is still kilometers away, and that’s a close scare. Gravity is a straight BS movie that doesn’t even try to make their plotline reasonable. Everything that happened in that movie is impossible. The orbits don’t work like that, at all. Period. It’s a load of garbage.

But your answer is longer than mine :frowning:

I think you misunderstand the intent behind this. I was not arguing that humans are better than probes. They’re not. They’re heavy, they require life support, and they need to eat and drink. Probes will always be cheaper and easier than sending humans.

The point is, is that I want to go to space and I’m fairly positive I am not the only one. Regardless of that being less efficient than a probe, I still want to go. For that I need transport, I need a place to stay, and preferably with some AG so that I don’t atrophy and have to extensively rehab when I return to Earth. It’s not even just tourism. People will want to live in space and not just be a tourist regardless of the inefficiencies.

The answer to @JonnyRedHed’s question is not that “probes are cheaper and there’s no reason for humans to go to space” He asked why we haven’t created these massive stations. The direct cause is the high cost to get into orbit. As soon as it drops to a meaningful level we wills start to see these things.

What will they do on the space station? Everything in this discussion hinges on that. How efficient does space transportation have to get before any non-tourism scenarios become practical?

Before you reply, I will attempt to counter every suggestion with either automation or remote operation of that task. If the task takes place while the space station orbits Mars, then we can eliminate remote operation that requires any kind of real time control. But Curiosity and Opportunity are both being controlled remotely, so there are plenty of tasks that can be handled via remote operation even at that distance.

Because its out there, not Earth bound. To go see and experience for one’s self is enough reason for me.

Something that makes me chuckle - EVA space suits for fat and super large people, will become big business in the 2nd half of this century and onwards. I bet you there’s someone out there now thinking about this very problem, with a mind to supplying space tourist suits to the very large size humans. Super wide airlocks and bunks, and super sized toilet facilities for both zero-g and on spin gravity space hotels.

The orbits won’t work like that, sure - they changed them because they found the average moviegoer didn’t play KSP and “why aren’t they pointing toward where they want to go?” was the general reaction to the first draft, with serious pacing problems when half the dialogues were then about trying to explain orbital mechanics to said moviegoers.
And yes, Hubble and ISS aren’t on the same plane (they should have gone for another satellite) and yes the Chinese station is way too big to fit in the timeframe and yes debris should go so fast that they are invisible to the naked eye.
The film was still praised by actual, real-life astronauts, though.

But here’s the bad news: the Kessler syndrome is enough of a real threat to put space agencies deciders awake at night.
Remember when the US demonstrated their anti-satellite capabilities by blowing up one of their dead satellites? They did it by making sure it was already de-orbiting, so the debris would harmlessly burn in the atmosphere.
Remember when the Chinese demonstrated their anti-satellite capabilities by blowing up one of their dead satellites? They just shot it down blew it up apart, creating an expending cloud of debris. The international reaction from space agencies was pretty much “What the f* do you morons think you’re doing? Trying to wreck the entire low orbit?” [diplomats may have reworded the official communications a bit].
And the end result wouldn’t be that different than what we saw in the film: everything blown apart, no unprotected spacecraft with any long-term survival chances… The two big unknowns are, what is the tipping point, and how fast would it spread and wreck things. In fact, some wonder if we didn’t already pass the tipping point, and it is is only a question of time before it really starts.

What you have to understand is space may be crushingly large, but orbital

It is enough of a concern that at least ESA is seriously investigating it, and last time I there was a prototype UV laser in development to literally shoot debris down in the atmosphere (by vaporising a side, causing it to move the other way).

This is great. Thought out conjecture. On the Science discussion thread I don’t want conjecture.

Space manufacturing; just an old wikipedia link,

The telescopes on mountains have a person there. I could be a space peeping tom! I mean telescopeist!!!

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Currently our survival hinges on not having our dear planet earth destroyed. It’s probably the biggest hurdle (apart from human idiocy) that humanity has to overcome in order to live, prosper and evolve until the death of our universe.


Seriously, I would gladly depart this blue ball and live in space if I could. I don’t require any justification beyond “Because I want to,” because that’s all the justification I have. Should there be something useful I can contribute while I’m up there, great! If not, then I’m content to live in this environment I was never intended to live in.

The problem is, with our current economic reality, that won’t be enough.

Now, if progress in automation and AI bring the tremendous production surplus some people foresee (what some call "post-scarcity future, though I dislike the term because there will still be forms of scarcity - and still need for humans at varied points of the chain - but I digress), with the enormous economic growth to be spend however we like, then that would start to make sense.
Basically, “because we can” will be a good enough reason when we indeed can.

Right, I’m not saying it’s currently feasible or practical. JB just wants to know the why, and I’m stating that there is no why for some of us. If I had the resources to do it, I’d do it “just 'cause.”


Unfortunately we cannot remotely operate living in another place. For example, seeing pictures of Yosemite or Yellow Stone aren’t enough for me. I have to go visit and see it myself because that’s the way I am. I can’t be the only one like this. I want to see that bigass raging storm and its little brother on Jupiter. I want to see the rings of saturn myself. You can’t do that with remote operation. That’s the one counter example because it’s really the only one. I already stated in my first response that you are correct that everything else is more efficient remote operated…except actually going there. That’s the reason.

Yes it’s a romantic version of life, but it is what it is. When the technology and opportunity exists, it will happen. For now, I agree with you. Probes all the way. No reason to send people to Mars or the Moon yet, unless their goal is to live there.

It’s funny because I wrote this out first and now I’m reading the other responses and I then I See @Red_Syns’s.

@ThornEel I am very aware of Kessler Syndrome. I wasn’t downplaying it to the point it’s not a problem, but that Gravity was awful way of describing how it would happen/play out. It’s so much more than ISS/Hubble being on different planes. It’s the fact the periodic “debris wave” would once and that’s it. It’s the fact that there’s ZERO reason all of those comm sats in GEO to suddenly come swinging into LEO because they are suddenly debris.

Can I get a reputable source on the some who think kessler syndrome is happening right now?. We aren’t close to the tipping point or we would be screwed right now. If the tipping point was happening you would know right now. We wouldn’t be having this conversation. There are >50,000 pieces of debris ranging from spent rocket stages down to ~10cm in size. The rocket stages are fine and in fact you can see them right now. It’s a pretty awesome website that shows you satellites and spent stages alike. There has been exactly 1 satellite lost in the last 15 years to debris, an Iridium satellite. It contributed to 90% of the planets debris at the time, 30% of which has since decayed and shockingly, even though it contributed much debris nothing else has been hit by it yet. I will reiterate space is big and we do have some buffer to go through first. Yes it’s a problem, Yes it can go bad real fast, but we’re not quite there yet.

If suddenly WW3 happens and the first thing the nations would logically do is remove communication, then we are fucked. 100% wholeheartedly fucked by wrecking GEO orbits with debris. That would be unusuable for(I hesitate to say millions, but I think the atmospheric drag up there is nearly zero) hundreds of thousands of years unless we fixed it, assuming there is still someone left on the planet to do so.

So, tourism.

For me personally, yes.

For others who want to live there permanently? No.

How about a “practical” answer: Drone maintenance. At some point in the not too too distant future we’ll be mining asteroids for minerals. The cheapest way to keep a mining fleet in service, even an automated one, is to service it in space. Even if 90% of that servicing is done by robots, there will need to be a human crew to make sure things run smoothly, and to respond to problems that the robots can’t resolve.

It’s possible, but I doubt it. Anything in Earth orbit (and perhaps as far as one light second) can be handled remotely. Beyond that, we can use robots that are programmed for a given task. If they don’t have the right program, we can just transmit a new one. If we don’t have the right machine in place, we can design a new one here on Earth and send it up. Or just a piece of one. Whatever is optimal.

Contrast that with the issues of keeping people comfortably alive in space for long periods of time. The habitat is either self-sustaining, with all the systems needed to provide a comfortable environment, or it is regularly supplied from Earth or some other location that is self-sustaining. Whatever habitat is created, it would be essentially an automated facility like a mining facility, but with the goal of creating that comfortable environment for people. That’s a complex task that doesn’t have the return on investment that those mining machines have.

That, in light of the realization that the people on that station are repairing machines. I’d just design my machines so that they can be easily repaired. If manipulator arms malfunction all the time, I’d create them to be modular so that the entire arm can be easily replace. Or such that they have a dozen arms that can rotate into place. Or I’d invest more into the machines so the arms don’t wear out. Whatever is optimal. We have billions of people on Earth who can improve on them…

Ultimately, people go into space for emotional reasons. The first man in orbit. The first man to set foot on the moon. The first person to set foot on Mars. The first person to die off-planet - or to be born off-planet. And so on. These are feats with emotional value, and they are the reason that manned space programs exist. However, when it comes to getting anything done in space, we use machines.

That’s becoming the case even here on Earth. We have plenty of people handy, but we’re automating more and more jobs. Because machines can be built for each specialization. In the end, we just won’t have to do anything material, and it will fall to us to try to figure out what being human is all about.

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Launching new stuff into orbit is never going to be optimal. From a business perspective, it will be cheaper for quite some time to just maintain a biodome boarding garage of crazy space mechanics than it will to regularly properly replenish a fleet of probes from the ground. Plus, resource companies really like to employ people. They’re known entities. Just think of every reason we keep sending people down into mines, even though we have the technology to automate the vast, vast majority of an underground mining operation, and tag on “in space” to the end, and you’ll see why business owned space stations will be a thing.

I don’t see how that can be asserted today or ever. The machines that we have off planet aren’t maintained by anyone at all. That’s because it’s too costly to put people in a position to fix them. It’s more practical to loft a new machine. If any repairs are going to be made, they will be made by machines designed to make them, and they will be made to machines that are designed to be maintained by them. Interestingly, with miniaturization of everything, we may never get to the point of needing to fix anything. Just loft 1,000 copies of what you need and accept attrition over time. When the numbers get too low, launch another 1,000.

Hubble is the only exception that I can think of to the pattern of repairing machines in space. It wasn’t at all designed for maintenance, so we had to send people up to fix it. There was too much prestige (i.e. emotion) attached to it. It had to be done.

By the time we can put a self-supporting biodome into orbit, our machines will be smarter than we are. That’s because AI and robots have so many practical uses on Earth. Everyone and his cousin is working on it. In contrast, putting a biodome into orbit has little but emotional appeal. That’s why nobody does anything with people in space; we can’t figure out why we’d expend resources to put them up there.

In the end, it will probably be our advanced machines that will allow us to put biodomes in space. The reason for doing it? By that time, it’ll be “just because”.

Jobs. Companies that get rid of jobs are not looked upon fondly.

Note that executives do NOT like to employ people. They like to make profits. Executives view employees as a necessary evil, as evidenced by the current low opinion of corporations and their employee practices.