What is the largest possible Rotating wheel space station?

In summary, the maximum radius of a rotating wheel space station is around double the breaking length of the material, as shown in the Wikipedia article on specific strength. This measures a material's ability to hold itself up, including tensile strength. The limiting factor for the maximum radius is the ability of the tension spokes to withstand centrifugal forces. This can be increased by increasing the cross section of the spokes towards the center, but there are limitations due to geometry. Ultimately, a rotating wheel space station built with current materials can support a population that is determined by these factors.
  • #1
jms4
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What is the largest possible Rotating wheel space station possible to be constructed with current materials? and what would be the population it would support. also formulas used for calculation.would be useful.
Could constructing cylindrical space elevators support more population,
 
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  • #3
DrStupid said:
The maximum radius is around double the breaking length. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_strength for some values.
Why? From that wiki article, this measures a material's ability to hold itself up, which is compressive strength. Why would this be relevant? I would think the limiting factor would be tensile strength. When you spin a ring, the ring wants to rip itself apart, not collapse together.
 
  • #4
Read the wiki again... It includes tensile strength.
What you also have is a measure of 'live load' and 'dead load'. How long and strong can you make tension spokes before they fail under their own 'weight' due centrifugal effects so can carry no rim loads...

Why this way around ? Think cart wheel vs bicycle wheel, and how much less structural material the latter needs...
 
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  • #5
newjerseyrunner said:
From that wiki article, this measures a material's ability to hold itself up

"...when supported only at the top."

The factor two results from the linear increase of the centrifugal force with the radius (instead of standard gravity). As Wiki also tells you, the breaking length applies to a fixed cross-section. That means that the maximum radius (or payload) can be increased by increasing the cross section of the spokes towards the center. But this is limited for geometrical resons.
 
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1. What is the purpose of a rotating wheel space station?

A rotating wheel space station is designed for long-term human habitation in outer space. It provides artificial gravity by spinning at a constant rate, allowing occupants to experience a similar force to that of Earth's gravity. This can help prevent the negative effects of prolonged weightlessness, such as muscle and bone loss.

2. How large can a rotating wheel space station be?

The size of a rotating wheel space station can vary depending on the design and technology used. Currently, the largest rotating wheel space station is the International Space Station (ISS), which has a diameter of 108.5 meters. However, hypothetical designs have proposed larger stations with diameters up to 1,000 meters.

3. What materials are needed to construct a rotating wheel space station?

A rotating wheel space station requires materials that are strong, lightweight, and able to withstand the harsh conditions of space. The primary material used is typically aluminum, as it is lightweight and has high strength-to-weight ratio. Other materials such as titanium, carbon fiber, and stainless steel may also be used for specific components.

4. How is a rotating wheel space station powered?

A rotating wheel space station requires a continuous source of energy to maintain its rotation and provide electricity for the various systems and equipment onboard. This can be achieved through solar panels, nuclear power, or a combination of both. The ISS, for example, primarily uses solar panels to generate electricity.

5. What challenges are associated with building and operating a rotating wheel space station?

Building and operating a rotating wheel space station presents numerous challenges, including the high cost of construction and maintenance, the need for advanced technology and expertise, and the potential risks to human health in the harsh environment of space. There are also logistical challenges such as transporting materials and supplies to and from the station. However, as technology advances and more research is conducted, these challenges can be overcome, making a rotating wheel space station an achievable goal for future space exploration.

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