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NASA reluctance to use centrifugal acceleration

  1. Feb 15, 2010 #1
    I do not know which forum to place this in so it is here

    Why has NASA so completely resisted ever experimenting with rotation in space to provide "artificial gravity" to mitigate the effects of weightlessness on humans?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2010 #2


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    Probably because you need a very big "wheel" for that to be practical.
    It is not a bad idea, but building something of that size is simply not feasible at the moment.
  4. Feb 15, 2010 #3
    How about a capsule of whatever size you want, a counter weight and a long cable?
  5. Feb 15, 2010 #4
    I wonder what effect that would have watching everything outside the capsule spinning continually.
  6. Feb 15, 2010 #5
    The cost of transporting the counterweight into orbit might be a limitation to that plan.

    I think a ring structure makes more sense, but even then, it probably requires more structural integrity than the current ISS which doesn't spin. The added structural integrity means greater mass and that is an expense as well.

    Say we redesign the ISS into a ring shape and set it spinning. In order to get a large simulated gravity in such a small ring you need to spin it faster than you would if it were a larger ring. I don't know what level of simulated gravity you have in mind, but the faster you spin, the more coriolis force you will create inside the ring. This could make life and work within difficult. Also, you need to spin everything that docks with the station, like in that movie 2001. And unspin it when you undock.

    I doubt that the engineers who designed the ISS resisted this idea out of laziness or pig-headedness.
  7. Feb 15, 2010 #6
  8. Feb 15, 2010 #7
    The whole point of the ISS is to do experiments in a weightless environment including exposing people to many months of weightlessness.
  9. Feb 15, 2010 #8
    Non-inertial reference frames are a no-no.
  10. Feb 16, 2010 #9


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    In my personal experience, they aren't. Rotating systems have been considered for missions to Mars.

    However, we don't have a mission to Mars on the books.
  11. Feb 16, 2010 #10


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    How would they perform maneuver burns and keep it rotating properly?
  12. Feb 16, 2010 #11
    What? You want to take all the fun out of space travel? If they did that, maybe nobody will volunteer to go to space anymore. Next, you will want to take the loops out of roller coasters. (just kidding of course) :smile:
  13. Feb 16, 2010 #12

    D H

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    Where makes you think this?

    NASA has been studying use of artificial gravity for a long time. The studies go back to the Apollo days. Somewhat more recently, and just as a start,

    Torturing rats.

    Fuller, C. A., Effects of Centrifuge Diameter & Operation On Rodent Adaptation to Chronic Centrifugation, 1997 http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=774948&id=2&as=false&or=false&qs=Ns=HarvestDate%7c1&N=4294813337

    Fuller, C. A., The Effect of Age in the Alteration in Fluid Balance of Rats in Response to Centrifugation, 2000 http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=335663&id=6&as=false&or=false&qs=Ns=HarvestDate%7c1&N=4294813337

    Torturing people.

    Paloski, W. H. et al, Effects of Artificial Gravity and Bed Rest on Spatial Orientation and Balance Control, http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=5...=80&Ne=41&Ns=HarvestDate%7c0&N=257+4294964632

    Schlegel, T. T. et al, Effect of Head-Down Bed Rest and Artificial Gravity Countermeasure on Cardiac Autonomic and Advanced Electrocardiographic Function, 2007 http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=7...=80&Ne=41&Ns=HarvestDate%7c0&N=257+4294964632

    Smith, S.M. et al, Artificial Gravity as a Bone Loss Countermeasure in Simulated Weightlessness, 2007 http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=6...=80&Ne=41&Ns=HarvestDate%7c0&N=257+4294964632

    Bigger plans.
    Joosten, B. K., Preliminary Assessment of Artificial Gravity Impacts to Deep-Space Vehicle Design, 2007 http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20070023306_2007019854.pdf

    NASA hasn't built the 2001 space station because it would need to be huge. A 56 meter rotational radius is needed to avoid causing physiological problems. Adding in that the structure would need to be bulky to withstand those 1g stresses and that one of the goals of the ISS is to perform microgravity experiments and that 56 meter radius (112 meter diameter) rotating space station becomes a pretty piece of science fiction -- for now.
  14. Feb 16, 2010 #13
    Why dont we just strap rockets to the Earth and travel? Everyone can be astronauts then!
  15. Feb 16, 2010 #14
    i'm an astronaut now
  16. Feb 16, 2010 #15


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    I propose a new ISS with 1.0g gravity - thus greatly reducing construction and launch costs.
  17. Feb 16, 2010 #16
    Well, I know the cost would be enormous, but what about instead of spinning the ring, you do this:

    1) Have a casing around a part that spins in the middle of it using something like maglev.

    2) In the middle have the power source, and have it extending out to power the maglev's rotation.

    This way, you have a spinning wheel creating the g-forces, but the outside of it is stationary.
  18. Feb 16, 2010 #17
    Instead of going through all of this trouble, lets just get something to spin, and tape pictures of stars over all of the windows. No motion sickness now!
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