Artificial Gravity on Spacecraft Questions.?

Question by NONAME: Artificial Gravity on Spacecraft Questions.?
It seems to me so much work has been done on bone loss and other physiological aspects of long term spaceflight that (analyzing the published data) nothing can compare to induced artificial gravity. I guess most of us have heard of a spinning compartment allowing a 1-G environment to overcome the physiological problems of long term weightlessness, when, say, traveling to Mars.

Assuming bearings and seals could be made to function and be lubricated sufficiently well as to not fail under the adverse conditions of deep space; should we not retake a look at this revolving system? Is two years too long a time for this system to function without failing?

My question is this… With modern computing systems as good as they are, could not the whole spacecraft spin like a bullet to give 1-G, with the computers taking star sightings at attitudes determined at intervals and compute course corrections? And, would this not help the physiological problems? It seems that NASA and other countries’ Space Agencies shy away from such ideas siting cost as their main concern, yet spend billions on none productive research. Why is this?
Astronauts could shower (wash clothes, even) and remain fit and strong, especially when they eventually return from their long journey.

What are your thoughts on 1-G space traversing ?
Helge P. I would appreciate thoughtful input from a grown-up. Re-reply in a few years, eh.
permative: Forgive me. I did err here. I meant, in hindsight to say the research is ground based (Packing for Mars: pages 211-228) and my text was based on these pages.

Best answer:

Answer by Helge P
Centrifuges. Big fucking centrifuges.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!


5 Comments so far »

  1. IndianaJohn said,

    Wrote on May 2, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

    yes

    the problem comes from centrifical forces generated by the spin

    those forces induce navigational errors that need extra fuel to correct

  2. Stephen said,

    Wrote on May 2, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

    I am not sure the comment about centrifuges is totally correct. My understanding of centrifuges is that they exaggerate the force of gravity, presuming gravity is there in the first place to exaggerate. But it would be centrifugal force that you’d need to accomplish this, so I could be wrong.

    Anyways, I watched a program on this exact type of thing. Can’t recall the numbers they planned out, but I remember they said that in order to achieve this 1g effect, you’d need some extreme values. You’d need either a gigantic spacecraft spinning at a slow speed or a very tiny spaceship spinning incredibly fast to achieve this 1g condition. Neither of these conditions are really economical to produce, and the only truly viable spacecraft would be a giant one spinning slowly, so that all of the equipment and crew would fit on it. Even if you could make this giant spacecraft, even getting it to spin slowly would require tremendouse energy because of how massive it would be.

  3. permeative pedagogy said,

    Wrote on May 2, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

    A few of your points don’t seem well researched. I see nothing indicating NASA and other space agencies are shying away from creating false gravitational environments in space craft. There is plenty of research going into it. Maybe you’re citing the idea that they’ve yet to develop a spacecraft to do this, but to be fair, we are many decades away from sending man on a long term voyage in space, even if it is only to Mars. We have no need currently to develop such a ship. And your claim that they spend billions on none productive research is completely baseless and somewhat ignorant. NASA only even has a 19 billion dollar budget. Are you really saying almost all of that is put towards nothing productive?

    But to further address your idea, recent research shows that humans don’t actually need a 1G environment 24/7 to address bone density decreasing. Simply “standing” in a small centrifuge for an hour a day is good enough to keep our bodies fit and strong. Of course that should be paired with regular workouts, much like the ones that are currently performed on the ISS. So simply having a centrifuge on board the ship would be sufficient. For the astronauts, this would require simply standing (from their perspective) for an hour a day.

    As for having an entire ship rotate this isn’t very plausible. You would have to design a ship which would not be stable for taking off and landing. It would have to be something which remains entirely in orbit for it’s entire lifetime. Aside from that, you could not easily have a ship which entirely spins and is capable of navigating. The ship would have to spin too quickly for observation of reference stars used for navigation. At the very least, something would have to remain capable of looking at one spot in the sky for at least a minute or so.

  4. Tom S said,

    Wrote on May 2, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

    It is my understanding that NASA has experimented with this, and determined that the diameter of the spacecraft/station would have to very very large, if too small the rotation rate would need to be high, and this causes the people inside to get dizzy. The diameter would have to much larger than anything which has been built in space to date. I am sure someday it will happen.

  5. David said,

    Wrote on May 2, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    two tethered space craft spinning around a common center of gravity is very doable. this eliminates coriolis effects on the human body, and doesn,t require a large space craft. a mission to mars could keep a tethered rotation speed to simulate the .34 % mars gravity throughout the mission. an asteroid mission could maintain .10 % gravity to lower the risks of zero gravity. tethered space craft could have a couple of hundred yard separation.

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