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I am currently participating in a project where I have to design a space settlement. I would like some data on the materials and the processes being developed/studied here. If you have any such information, could you help me?
Question Date: 2000-01-26
Answer 1:

As you may know, the term "space settlement" refers to the colonizing of space by using extraterrestrial resources to construct artificial, closed-ecology habitats in orbit or on other worlds. There are a lot of factors one needs to consider, including where to get raw material, where and how to harness energy, where to position your habitat, how to reliably get people, animals, plants, etc from earth to your habitat, etc. Before you embark on this project, stop and look around you. Look carefully. Pay attention to the those things which you take for granted. For example, the soil in your backyard. You can grow plants in that soil, but will they grow in lunar soil for example? On the moon, temperature differences between day and night are about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Those are the sorts of questions that need to be addressed should humankind decide to colonize space or other worlds.

The "space settlement" is was essentially conceived and popularized by Gerard K. O'Neill (1927-1992), who was a physicist with Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Study. Prior to popularizing space development, O'Neill was well known as a researcher in high-energy physics, and as the inventor of the colliding-beam storage ring, an innovation now standard on most particle accelerators. Try to find books written by him. Also, there are a couple of great books by Werner Von Braun which address this subject (W. Von Braun is a german rocket scientist who is primarily responsible for the success of the American space program).
Finally, there are a number of resources on the web that will get you started (see links below). Good luck. Maybe someday I'll get to visit your space settlement. Do you think you'll need a marine biologist?

Answer 2:

Is this project related to the International space settlement design competition? I'd be happy to answer more specific questions -- but for one so general I can only offer pointers:

1. Cost of materials in space is strongly related to abundance and difficulty in getting them where you want-- currently earmarked are Ti, Al, B and related metals because they are strong and much lighter than steel. This make sense if you are using earth -- but if you use the moon (much cheaper materials after development), you should check the abundance of Lunar materials
-- again Ti is big, B, Al and others are common as well.

2. Biggest cost is organics and related compounds in space -- can't get much from the Moon, so you have to be creative... Comets maybe -- if you can figure how to get them cheap...

3. Power is easy -- but waste heat is hard to fix...

4. Radiation is a tricky problem -- especially in Solar Flare seasons

5. Positioning and attitude adjustment must use a minimum of exhaustible resources -- I suggest you look at magnetic interactions for earth orbit habitats.

Hope this helps -- I would be happy to answer (if I can) a more specific

Answer 3:

The MARS people have been very interested in this for a while. I would suggest a net search of MARS and find the MARS society... a place to start is :


There is a group at the UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO who have studied this to the greatest extent...look up sites at UCOLORADO as well.

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