Prolonged stay in space has serious consequences. Medical research on the effects of microgravity on astronauts after months in low earth orbit (Leo) came to a bitter conclusion: people can't live without full gravity. Thus, artificial gravity is increasingly discussed as an essential component of long-term missions in space as close to the Ground and further away from her.
Artificial gravity will be especially important for long-term commercial missions, where telerobotics will be managed by the crew, placed in the vicinity of the asteroid, where the mined minerals and carried out other work. This gravity will also be useful for long-term studies on bodies with low gravity like the moon, Mars, or even satellites of the outer planets.
William Kemp of Washington believes that, together with his business partner Ted Mazeikai found a viable solution to these issues. This 30-meter diameter cylindrical space station that is able to create a variable artificial gravity by rotation of the cylinder around its longitudinal axis.
"If we want to remain in space longer than a year, we need to make the system artificial gravity or are we going to sacrifice people in the process," said Kemp, founder and CEO at United Space Structures.
For over three decades, Kemp worked on perfecting their ideas. Currently, the company has a project in a patented process and seeking funding and other partners who can contribute in a large way.
The idea was to achieve artificial gravity due to centrifugal force which would require rotation, creating downward pressure. Small 10-meter structure, in theory, can spin fast enough that people felt the attraction, but Kemp says that the astronauts with such a structure will have terrible problems to the inner ear.
"If the speed is too high, your sense of balance fails and soon you will feel terrible pain in hands and knees," says Kemp.
However, a small drum station with a diameter of 30 meters, the proposed camp will be able to support the gravity of 0.6 of the earth; this is the minimum that will allow people to live safely in the station for at least two years. The astronauts will live inside the cylinder and the outer hemisphere of the structure.
Kemp said that the 30-meter-long cylindrical station will need the speed 5.98 rpm and a minimum useful size to create artificial gravity. Fast speed of rotation would be uncomfortable for the astronauts.
"The direction of rotation of the cylinder does not matter, says Kemp. — The speed depends on the radius of the rotating object and of gravity, which you need; the larger the radius, the lower the speed".
The first step in test-United Space Structures will be a test of the 30-meter prototype in Leo, says Kemp. Although this 30-meter station can fit at least 30 people, it will work well in deep space and near-earth environment of resource extraction on asteroids.
Which partners will be engaged in the construction of these stations?
"We are in talks with companies like Deep Space Industries, who want to mine resources on asteroids and other companies that want to extract resources on the moon, says Kemp. We would like to use the platform of a SpaceX launch, but it will significantly increase costs, so initially we will use composite materials for construction, and no metals".
Despite the projected jump in space medicine over the next two decades, Kemp absolutely convinced that artificial gravity will be always needed. Over time, microgravity decreases muscle and bone mass, compressed the optic nerve leaves the retina, lowered immunity, perhaps even broken critical thinking.
Of course, this does not mean that artificial gravity will be a panacea.
In conditions of artificial gravity, astronauts will still know that they are on a rotating station, said Kemp. Walking on such a station would resemble a downhill slope because the floor will go from under his feet. Walk in the opposite direction of rotation will resemble an uphill climb, as the floor will rise. But if you go perpendicular to the rotation in any direction, will feel that you're falling aside.published
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