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Moon Mars NASA Space

NASA's Deep Space Habitat Could Support the Journey To Mars and a Lunar Return ( 43

MarkWhittington writes: Back in 2012, when NASA first proposed building a deep space habitat (DSH) beyond the moon, the Obama administration took a dim view of the idea. However, fast forward over three years, and the idea has become part of the Journey to Mars program. According to a story in Spaceflight Insider, the deep space habitat will be deployed in cis-lunar space in the 2020s to test various technologies related to sending humans to Mars. The DSH could also be part of an infrastructure that would support a return to the moon should the next administration decide to go that route.
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NASA's Deep Space Habitat Could Support the Journey To Mars and a Lunar Return

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  • I strongly believe that from the POV of this simple earthling outer space belongs to us all and it would at this point be foolish to leave exploration to individual states or even corporations (persons right?)

    So my dream is to start building an ISS2 in a cislunar orbit, also orbiting the earth and moon.

    As a side exercise, how much energy would be needed to propel the present ISS (+400 tons) to such an orbit, would it be feasible over say a 5 year period?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      "I strongly believe that from the POV of this simple earthling outer space belongs to us all "

      LOL. You have people that can't even feed themselves and you're worried about a vacuum? []

      "So my dream is to start building an ISS2 in a cislunar orbit, also orbiting the earth and moon."

      And for what? For who? For your fantasies? Send a camera with a radio. That's all you need there.

      • I agree that sending people to mars is mostly pointless and definitely an inefficient way to go about exploring the solar system.
        However, developing technologies to improve survival in space should provide insight and technology to help increase efficiency in a terrestrial environment.

        The very nature of space is such a harsh environment that it demands innovation while sitting around and playing in the dirt doesn't.

        Well, until we hit a resource crisis and then it does.

    • by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @01:41PM (#51361575) Homepage

      The current ISS doesn't have the additional radiation shielding that an station in cislunar space would require. Additionally, it's design and instruments are pretty well tuned for its current mission. We're far better off with a new station.

      It would be great if an international cooperative effort could be made in this direction, but in the current political climate, I think that level of cooperation between the space powers is extremely unlikely. We certainly shouldn't wait until everything here is hunky dory before we move forward with exploration.

  • by shoor ( 33382 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @03:13PM (#51361931)

    Years ago I read an article somewhere about protection from Cosmic Rays. It made an impression, and what's also made an impression is that I don't think I've ever come across anything else about it in the discussions about plans to send people to Mars. I gather though, that cumulative damage from Cosmic Rays are a serious enough issue that it would be criminally negligent of the powers to be if they didn't offer protection. So, what to do about Cosmic Rays? This is from memory about what the article said and may not be quite right but:
    1. 3 feet of water offers as much protection from Cosmic Rays as the earth's atmosphere (maybe it was the atmosphere as it is in Denver, Colo.) So a ship going to Mars could be sheathed in a water jacket. That's a lot of mass, but, the bigger the ship, the less the total percentage of mass would be dedicated to the water jacket. Also, the water could be used for drinking, then purified and recycled. (Also, since the article came out, I've read about water being found on the Moon. Getting water from the Moon for the water jacket might be more practical as it has less of a gravity well to be hauled up from.)
    2. Alternatively, a very strong magnetic field around the ship would deflect the cosmic rays. This would be less massive. Methinks it would have to be a very powerful field and I'm wondering a bit at the technology to do it.

    • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @04:12PM (#51362137)
      Electromagnetic shielding [] tech is up to this task. Per my link, "no bigger than a large desk". Now that the USA is finally spinning back up RTG production [], paintable solar cells [], Tesla's advancement in battery tech, etc we COULD do quite a bit more than we are.
      • by shoor ( 33382 )

        I visited that link. From what I read, the "no bigger than a large desk" solution is for solar wind, not cosmic rays, which are more energetic. In fact, reading farther down, there was a reply, 'let me rain on this parade' about the strength and power requirements of a field strong enough to deflect cosmic rays. It also gave a link to an article that seems similar to the one I remember reading except that it's gloomier [] as i

    • Asteroids. Lots of cheap rock out there (except for the delta V, of course). Patience and planning can substitute for big badda boom in most cases.

      However, planning more than two years out is clearly beyond the US government at these cost levels. Maybe the mother of all Kickstarters (so to speak). Kick your own asteroid into orbit! Perhaps start out when your kid is born, keep contributing and by the time she's ready to be an astronaut you could. .. Well, you could, you could ... get her a picture of

      • A 10 ton asteroid tug with 20-25 tons of fuel can return about 1000 tons of asteroid rock to a high orbit, such as near the Moon. That's enough to shield a few Deep Space Habitat modules. Assume the modules are Space Station-sized, about 5x10 m cylinders. You want 1 meter of shielding, which is then a cylinder 7x10 meters, or 188 cubic meters. Chondrite type meteorites have a solid density of 2-3 tons/cubic meter, so the mass would be 375 to 560 tons. So you can cover roughly 2-3 modules. You build a

        • Lots of rock, yes, for shielding and more - but shot up from the lunar surface to the L1 gravitational saddle point with electromagnetic cannons. like rolling a marble up a smooth mountain so it just nicely comes to rest at the top. (How best to balance the station, etc, there is a whole other discussion.) Not using current rail gun designs, though, because those wear out way too quickly. Essentially we need to be able to greatly accelerate a bucket, and then slow it while letting the payload sail away. The
    • Radiation is an issue that gets talked about, it just doesn't end up on the front page.
      I've seen calculations that suggest 500 kW of electric power would be enough to drive a decent magnetic shield. The ISS solar arrays supply about 120 kW of peak power.
      A water jacket on even a small ship ends up being very heavy. If you attach two ISS modules to each other for a volume of 3.5 x 20 m, you need 1000 tons of water [] for a shield 2 m thick.

  • ...who noticed that the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) looks like a giant Jiffy Pop? []

  • With the BEAM idea, we could relatively easily build this and include electromagnetic shielding [] to guard against cosmic rays. Inflatable modules could be built en-mass, there is no reason we couldn't use them to make several Deep Space Habitats. All that's lacking is the political will power and vision.
  • But perhaps the question to be asked is not "could it?" but "should it?"

    Unless someone can come forward and provide a compelling reason why we should send humans (of all things) to Mars, any such venture is doomed to failure in the long term. By compelling, I mean, demonstrating some objective benefit that we mostly agree on. The reasons givens o far fall short of that benchmark:

    1. "Because we can". We "can" also eat a bag of pinecones. Doesn't make it a good idea.

    2. "We like to explore" - now we can use

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      By compelling, I mean, demonstrating some objective benefit that we mostly agree on.

      What's the objective benefit of Spirit and Opportunity? Sure, a bit of knowledge that's mostly useless outside Mars but has it produced any tangible benefits for mankind? Robots do it cheaper, but you don't get a return on investment, at least not measured in dollars. Not that space exploration is alone, what's the ROI on CERN? National parks? Protecting endangered species? Preserving historic artifacts and buildings? Supporting art and culture? Sure, some people only care about what directly impacts their

      • What's the objective benefit of Spirit and Opportunity?

        We're interested in the Solar System, and so we send probes into it. I see what you are getting at though, that this activity doesn't necessarily qualify as 'objectively beneficial' and that's a good point. But if we agree that learning more about the Solar System and indeed the world around us is an 'agreed benefit' then how does sending humans to Mars actually benefit that outcome?

        What outcome does sending humans serve that sending robots doesn't do better?

        What if we had said: "Let's not build [the gi

    • My reason is making money by expanding civilization into the Solar System. There are huge amounts of untapped energy and material resources out there. For a description of how the "mining and manufacturing based space program" would work, see: [] (part 1), and [] (part 2)

      • There are huge amounts of untapped energy and material resources out there.

        In the pilbara region of Western Australia the mining operation is almost completely automated. Trains run for 1000 km - no driver. Trucks drive around the mines by themselves.

        If we don't need humans in the pilbara to tap resources, we don't need them in space either - space is much further away than Western Australia (strange as that may seem).

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.