Category Archives: Space Settlement

Space settlement roundup – Mar.26.2020

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to human expansion into the solar system (see also previous space settlement postings):

** Joel Sercel – Mini Bee Prototype for Asteroid Mining – Cold Star Project S02E09 –

The Mini Bee asteroid mining craft prototype is the topic of this episode of the Cold Star Project, and Dr. Joel Sercel is our guest. Momentus Space and TransAstra are teaming up with a NASA NIAC grant and other investors to prove the concept of this new asteroid mining technology. Dr. Sercel has considerable experience in the space field, having designed JPL’s space project process. We cover:

– tradeoffs in vehicle design of the Mini Bee -process for Mini Bee proof of concept

– “process maturity” concept for Air Force projects he lead -biggest surprise in his JPL experience

– smallsat market predictions.

Mini Bee project info on NASA site:…

A NIAC infographic about the Mini Bee and optical mining concept:

Mini Bee optical mining system for extracting resources from asteroid and lunar material. Credits: Transastra Corp. & NIAC

** TransAstra’s Sun Flower solar powered module would enable extraction of water from permanently shadowed lunar craters at the poles:  TransAstra lunar outpost concept – Joel Sercel on LinkedIn

NASA has funded TransAstra to find a way to make a lunar outpost. Our system can evolve into a tourist destination and then grow into a city. The problem we had to overcome is that with today’s rocket technology launching just a single gallon of water to the Moon could cost upwards of $10M. Lunar outposts will need thousands of tons of water every year to drink, as a source of oxygen for air, and most importantly for rocket propellant. The best rocket propellant is made by breaking water into oxygen and hydrogen and liquifying the resulting gases at ultra low temperatures. Getting the water and turning it into rocket propellant will require megawatts of electric power. Solar arrays are not an option because the permanently shadowed regions that are expected to be loaded with ice haven’t seen the light of the Sun for billions of years.

Our new patent pending invention, the Sun Flower™ solves that problem. Sun Flower flies to the Moon as a single modular spacecraft and soft lands itself on the icy surface. With its landing legs stabilized on the icy lunar surface the tower grows vertically out of a modest package until the top of the tower is in the sun.

** ESA’s PROSPECT will extract materials from the crater floors of the Moon’s South Pole and look for water. The package will launch in 2025 as a payload on Russia’s Luna-27 lander: Hunting out water on the Moon – ESA

The overall payload is called Package for Resource Observation and in-Situ Prospecting for Exploration, Commercial exploitation and Transportation, or PROSPECT. A drill called ProSEED will extract samples, expected to contain water ice and other chemicals that can become trapped at the extremely low temperatures expected; typically -150 °C beneath the surface to lower than -200 °C in some areas. 

Samples taken by the drill will then be passed to the ProSPA chemical laboratory, being developed by an Open University team. These samples will then be heated to extract these cold-trapped volatiles and enable follow-up analysis.

ESA posts this “map of possible water beneath the surface of the Moon’s South Pole, based on temperature data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter”.

** Christopher Dreyer – Space Resources Program at the Colorado School of Mines – CSP S02E22

Dr. Christopher Dreyer is the Associate Director of Engineering and co-creator of the Center for Space Resources at Colorado School of Mines. The School offers an exciting Space Resources Program and Dr. Dreyer has played an integral role in developing it. Chris meets with Cold Star Project host Jason Kanigan to discuss the Program. We cover:

– how Chris got involved with the idea of asteroid mining

– the way one creates a curriculum for something that hasn’t existed before

– why the School decided to go with an online program format instead of in-class

– exactly what is taught in a course Dr. Dreyer developed for the program, such as Space Resources Fundamentals

– what if any relevance Earth-based capabilities and experience the Colorado School of Mines developed has for asteroid mining

– technologies available and being developed to prospect for and process resources in space

– how close or far away Dr. Dreyer believes we are to actual asteroid mining.

One of the first things I noticed on Dr. Dreyer’s LinkedIn profile was a recommendation from Dr. Joel Sercel, also a guest on this show. Dr. Sercel’s Momentus firm and Dr. Dreyer’s School do have a relationship and we discuss that in this episode. Dr. Sercel’s appearance is here:…

Space Resources Program:

** Elon Musk aims for a fleet of a 1000 Starships to transport thousands of people and thousands of tons of cargo every two years to Mars to build and maintain a permanent settlement until it can become self-sustaining.

Musk tweeted in January that the goal of his Starship transportation system to Mars will be to launch each of SpaceX’s reusable Starship rockets about three times per day, on average, while carrying a 100-ton payload on each flight. with roughly 1,000 flights per year carrying more than 100 tons of cargo on each flight. At that rate, Musk theorizes, each Starship rocket would make roughly 1,000 flights per year, launching a total of 100,000 tons of cargo into orbit.

“So, every 10 ships yield 1 megaton per year to orbit,” Musk also tweeted in January.

And 1,000 Starships could send “maybe around 100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync,” Musk added on Twitter, referring to the period, every 26 months, when Earth’s and Mars’ orbits are best aligned for an interplanetary journey. “That’s the goal.”

Starships at a Mars settlement. Credits: SpaceX

** Bloomberg posted a series of videos last fall on various aspects of large scale space development such as space factories and  living in space. The full series will play out if you start with this one:

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Space settlement roundup – Feb.13.2020

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to human expansion into the solar system (see also previous space settlement postings):

**  Doug Plata of the Space Development Network gave two space settlement related talks at last fall’s convention of the Mars Society.  (There are many presentations available in the Convention Youtube collection.) The first of Doug’s talks was titled SpaceX Starship for Moon or Mars? in which he discussed

how, for each Starship, there would be 72 round trip flights to the Moon for every round trip flight to Mars. SpaceX could sell 72X more tickets if using their Starship for the Moon. For this reason, the Starship might end up being a Moon rocket initially.

The second talk was a Greenhouses Comparison:

Regarding the Space Development Network, Doug says,

For the last year, a great deal of work has been done developing one of the most extensive space advocate websites.  This website covers many aspects of space development, exploration, settlement, policy, and achieving Earth independence.  Not very many topics have been left out of the website.  So, check it out at:

Near-term plans for the Network are to inform more space advocates about the website and Network and the organizing of more working groups to move specific fields forward.

** The “Value of Mars Settlement” was discussed by Bishop James Heiser at the Mars Society Convention:

** Elon Musk recently sketched out how to enable a large Martian settlement using fully-reusable Starship transports: SpaceX’s Elon Musk and his plans to send 1 million people to Mars – Teslarati

Starship, which is currently in development for future deep-space travel, will be able to ferry as many as 100 passengers beyond low-Earth orbit. The way to achieving that goal is by reducing the cost of spaceflight. He would like for anyone who wants to go to Mars, to be able to.

“Needs to be such that anyone can go if they want, with loans available for those who don’t have money,” Musk wrote.

To that end, Musk said he wants to build a fleet of at least 1,000 Starships—and launch at least three of them every day.

The Starship system is the latest in SpaceX’s troupe of increasingly larger rockets. In 2018, the California-based aerospace company launched and landed its Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, generating 5 million pounds of thrust from the rocket’s 27 engines. But even that’s not powerful enough for Mars-based missions.

“Megatons per year to orbit are needed for life to become multi-planetary,”  Musk tweeted on Thursday.

But the ship would also be able to navigate the tenuous Martian atmosphere and land safely on the red planet’s surface.

Musk estimates that a fleet of 1,000 Starships, able to tote 100 megatons of stuff to Mars, would be required to build a permanent settlement. That fleet could transport about 100 passengers each, totaling 100,000 people per year.

A SpaceX vision of a Mars settlement built with people and cargo transported via Starships.

** Learning how to live in early space settlements is helped by both simulated habitats like those of the Mars Society and real habitats in remote places like Antarctica: Mock and Real Mars habitats on Earth – Behind The Black

What struck me however was the nature of the place and the experience of living at a polar station that had to manage on the supplies on hand, during an arctic winter with no sun and temperatures routinely colder than -90 degrees Fahrenheit. In many more ways that the situation at the Mars Society’s Utah facility, the U.S. South Pole station did a great job of simulating closely what living at an early Mars base will be like.

Interestingly, some of the differences would like make living on Mars easier then at that 1999 station. Because of the lack of full atmosphere on Mars, any Mars base must be sealed from the outside environment. At the south pole, they did not do this, so that the inside temperatures were generally colder than one would like. This also meant that the crews were somewhat oxygen-starved by the end of the mission, as the facility was also at about 9,000 feet elevation and thus had a thinner atmosphere then what you’d likely find inside a Martian base.

** The EuroMoonMars mission team simulates a lunar mission using the remote HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) facility on Hawaii: European crew wraps up mock moon mission on volcano in Hawaii –

A crew of six scientists returned from “the moon” Saturday to wrap up two weeks exploring a mock lunar landscape on the side of a Hawaiian volcano. 

The scientists began their mission on Jan. 18 and have been working and living at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, habitat as part of the third EuroMoonMars mission (EMMIHS-III) — a series of analog missions run in collaboration with the European Space Agency, the International MoonBase Alliance and HI-SEAS.

The habitat, located on a remote slope of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii, has hosted groups of researchers and explorers on analog moon and Mars missions since its installation in 2013. Analog missions such as this put researchers in remote environments that mimick a stay on Mars or, in this case, the moon. In this environment they can conduct research while testing what it might be like for humans to spend time at a remote, off-Earth location.

The Hi-SEAS space habitat simulation facility on the northside of Mauna Loa, Hawaii

Find latest messages from the project at EMMIHS (@EmmihsM) / Twitter.

** Here is a perspective on living in deep space: How to optimise your headspace on a mission to Mars – Aeon Ideas

If there’s one thing the limited research shows, it’s that it’s hard to predict who will cope best and work well together as the weeks and months, maybe even years, wear on. Many factors can boost the chances of success, however, especially if crew members give each other precisely the kind of support and encouragement that people in prison are deprived of.

A well-performing team needs talented leaders and a closely knit group of people. They need to build trust between each other while they’re training, long before the rocket blasts off. Diverse, international crews could help to overcome some challenges that might come up, but that diversity also sometimes results in cultural and interpersonal problems. A larger crew would likely perform better than a smaller one, but the team’s size will always be limited by how much weight and fuel can be launched.

Once they’re in space, people need to keep busy, and they need to think they have something worthwhile to do, even if it’s actually of limited value. They also need a tiny bit of privacy and entertainment at times, which might include something they brought from home or a simulation of the family and friends they left behind. While at work, the crew members need clear goals and procedures to follow in a wide range of situations. Only people shown to be resilient under pressure for long periods and who have strong teamwork skills even in stressful, sleep-deprived conditions should be part of the crew.

** Building lunar settlements will likely rely on 3D printing techniques like that used by ESA in a test of making blocks from simulated Moon dust:  3D-printed block of moondust – ESA

Closeup of a 3D-printed block of simulated Moon dust. Credits: ESA

** The Luna-27 rover is a Russian project in collaboration with ESA to investigate the resources of the southern polar region of the Moon. The rover is expected to launch in 2022. The PROSPECT  instrument package, for example, will drill a meter deep into the regolith to examine various chemical properties and determine mineral and water content: One step closer to prospecting the Moon – ESA

Prospect includes a miniature laboratory called ProSPA which will analyse the soil samples retrieved by the drill. Precise measurements will help unearth the secrets of the Moon’s history and indicate whether future explorers could use lunar resources on their missions to help set up a lunar base.

The lunar south polar region is of great interest to lunar researchers and explorers because the low angle of the Sun over the horizon leads to areas of partial or even complete shadow. These shadowed areas and permanently dark crater floors, where sunlight never reaches, are believed to hide water ice and other frozen substances that could be analysed to better understand the natural processes that formed them, and used to produce resources such as oxygen and propellant in the future.

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Space settlement roundup – Jan.26.2020

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to human expansion into the solar system (see also previous space settlement postings):

** Mars settlement governance: Quillette offers its Mars Archives for discussions on Mars societies and how they could be governed.

Bob Zubrin refutes a silly Quillette essay about the threat of water eating Mars bugs: Mars & Human Exploration: A Rebuttal of Those Who Fear the Unknown – National Review.

** Obtaining oxygen and metals from lunar regolith: Nearly half of the chemical content of lunar dust is oxygen and most of the rest contains metals, both essential for sustainable lunar settlements. Here is a report from ESA on research into an efficient way to extract these resources from lunar regolith: ESA opens oxygen plant – making air out of moondust – ESA

ESTEC’s oxygen extraction is taking place using a method called molten salt electrolysis, involving placing regolith in a metal basket with molten calcium chloride salt to serve as an electrolyte, heated to 950°C. At this temperature the regolith remains solid.

But passing a current through it causes the oxygen to be extracted from the regolith and migrate across the salt to be collected at an anode. As a bonus this process also converts the regolith into usable metal alloys.

In fact this molten salt electrolysis method was developed by UK company Metalysis for commercial metal and alloy production. Beth’s PhD involved working at the company to study the process before recreating it at ESTEC.

On the left side of this before and after image is a pile of simulated lunar soil, or regolith; on the right is the same pile after essentially all the oxygen has been extracted from it, leaving a mixture of metal alloys. Both the oxygen and metal could be used in future by settlers on the Moon. Samples returned from the lunar surface confirm that lunar regolith is made up of 40-45% percent oxygen by weight, its single most abundant element. Credits: ESA

“At Metalysis, oxygen produced by the process is an unwanted by-product and is instead released as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which means the reactors are not designed to withstand oxygen gas itself,” explains Beth. “So we had to redesign the ESTEC version to be able to have the oxygen available to measure. The lab team was very helpful in getting it installed and operating safely.”

The oxygen plant runs silently, with the oxygen produced in the process is vented into an exhaust pipe for now, but will be stored after future upgrades of the system.

“The production process leaves behind a tangle of different metals,” adds Alexandre, “and this is another useful line of research, to see what are the most useful alloys that could be produced from them, and what kind of applications could they be put to.

See the related technical paper here.

Separating lunar regolith into oxygen and metals via the The Metalysis-FFC (Fray, Farthing, Chen) process. Credits: B. Lomax et al.

** Mars caves as shelters: More about the utility for settlement of lava tubes on Mars:  Mars Lava Tubes: Emergency Shelter and Storage – Leonard David

The use of lava tubes on Mars as emergency shelters and storage has been advanced by researchers at the Antarctic Institute of Canada.

Lava tubes are formed from fast moving lava which later cools and forms roomy caves that might serve various functions for future human expeditions to the Red Planet.

Svetozar Zirnov, Daniel Polo, and Austin Mardon of the institute floated the idea at this week’s Seventh International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration being held in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

** Growing shelters on Mars with mushrooms: Could Future Homes on the Moon and Mars Be Made of Fungi? | NASA

Science fiction often imagines our future on Mars and other planets as run by machines, with metallic cities and flying cars rising above dunes of red sand. But the reality may be even stranger – and “greener.” Instead of habitats made of metal and glass, NASA is exploring technologies that could grow structures out of fungi to become our future homes in the stars, and perhaps lead to more sustainable ways of living on Earth as well.

The myco-architecture project out of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley is prototyping technologies that could “grow” habitats on the Moon, Mars and beyond out of life – specifically, fungi and the unseen underground threads that make up the main part of the fungus, known as mycelia.

“Right now, traditional habitat designs for Mars are like a turtle — carrying our homes with us on our backs – a reliable plan, but with huge energy costs,” said Lynn Rothschild, the principal investigator on the early-stage project. “Instead, we can harness mycelia to grow these habitats ourselves when we get there.”

Ultimately, the project envisions a future where human explorers can bring a compact habitat built out of a lightweight material with dormant fungi that will last on long journeys to places like Mars. Upon arrival, by unfolding that basic structure and simply adding water, the fungi will be able to grow around that framework into a fully functional human habitat – all while being safely contained within the habitat to avoid contaminating the Martian environment.

This video from the NIAC 2018 Symposium includes a presentation about the fungi construction starting at around the 1:25:00 point:

** A COTS model for space-based solar power: A Public/Private Program to Develop Space Solar Power, Al Globus and John C. Mankins, January 2020.

We propose a public/private partnership to develop and demonstrate space solar power at a sufficiently high technical level that commercial energy providers can subsequently build operational systems for high-energy-cost environments such as remote mining facilities. The outlines of the partnership are based on the successful Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program that helped develop the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher/Dragon capsule and the Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares launcher and Cygnus spacecraft. The Space Solar Power Demo development described here features minimal NASA oversight, milestone-driven fixed-price payouts, minimal exit criteria, substantial commercial partner funding commitments, non-traditional contracts (e.g., Space Act Agreements with NASA), commercial partner choice of energy market and energy consumer, enabling system development (e.g., space robotics), and at least two winners.

More SBSP papers from Al Globus at Free Space Settlement.

** Settling the moons of Saturn: The Space Show – Tue, 01/14/2020 – In this interview,  Janelle Wellons of NASA JPL talked about Titan and other moons of Saturn and commented on the possibility of someday putting human settlements on them:

** Weekly Space Hangout: December 18, 2019 – Anita Gale of Space Settlement Design Competitions

We record the Weekly Space Hangout every Wednesday at 5:00 pm Pacific / 8:00 pm Eastern. You can watch us live on Universe Today or the Weekly Space Hangout YouTube page. Tonight we welcome Anita Gale, retired Boeing Associate Technical Fellow with over 40 years of experience in Payload and Cargo Integration on crewed spacecraft, including Space Shuttle and Commercial Crew. She is currently an elected member of the National Space Society (NSS) Executive Committee. Anita co-founded Space Settlement Design Competitions which give high school students on six continents the experience of working on an aerospace industry proposal team to design and sell a space settlement in the context of “future history.” To learn more about the competitions, visit You can read Anita’s full bio at…

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Space settlement roundup – Dec.17.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to human expansion into the solar system (see also previous space settlement postings):

** Map shows Mars settlers where to find water: NASA’s Treasure Map for Water Ice on Mars | NASA

“This rainbow-colored map shows underground water ice on Mars. Cool colors are closer to the surface than warm colors; black zones indicate areas where a spacecraft would sink into fine dust; the outlined box represents the ideal region to send astronauts for them to dig up water ice.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU”

A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters will help [select landing spots on Mars] by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.

Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what’s already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel.

NASA calls this concept “in situ resource utilization,” and it’s an important factor in selecting human landing sites on Mars. Satellites orbiting Mars are essential in helping scientists determine the best places for building the first Martian research station. The authors of the new paper make use of data from two of those spacecraft, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey orbiter, to locate water ice that could potentially be within reach of astronauts on the Red Planet.

“You wouldn’t need a backhoe to dig up this ice. You could use a shovel,” said the paper’s lead author, Sylvain Piqueux of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “We’re continuing to collect data on buried ice on Mars, zeroing in on the best places for astronauts to land.”

See also:

** Recent interviews on The Space Show dealing with space settlement:

**** Fri, 12/13/2019 – Morgan Irons discussed “space farming and agriculture, closed and quasi-closed loop life support, food security and lots more”.

**** Thu, 12/05/2019Al Globus discussed”new information and an implementation program for his ELEO space habitat” concepts.

**** Tue, 12/03/2019Bryce Meyer discussed “space farms, growing food in space, lunar agriculture, food on Mars, recycling human waste, space farm energy needs and TRL’s”.

** A discussion of the definition of space settlement by Dale A. Skran: SPACE BASICS: What is Space Settlement? – National Space Society

Before we get too far into this, it is important to clearly differentiate between “space settlement” and “a space settlement.” Space settlement is the general process of developing and settling space. A space settlement is a specific place in space where people live, work, and raise families.

Let’s start with a relevant dictionary definition of settlement—“the settling of persons in a new place.” This definition is almost immediately self-referential, as it refers to “settling of persons.” When we look at “settle” the verb, we see definitions that include “to migrate to and organize (an area, territory, etc); colonize,” “to cause to take up residence,” and “to furnish (a place) with inhabitants or settlers.”

All these definitions revolve around people living in a new place—“colonizing,” “taking up residence,” etc. This is very important—“taking up residence” implies permanence, family life, a job, and so on. A soldier being assigned to a base for a year is not “colonizing” or “taking up residence”—instead they are “being deployed.” A scientist might be “assigned” to work at a base in Antarctica for a period of time, but they are not “colonizing” Antarctica.

Thus, I propose that a “space settlement” is a group of people (men, women, children) who move to some specific location in space (Moon, Mars, an asteroid, orbital free space, etc.) to take up permanent residence there. This implies that they will raise their children in this “space settlement,” work in or near the “space settlement,” and in all probability die and have their remains disposed of there as well.

Skan concludes with

To summarize, the space settlements we are working to establish have the following characteristics:

    • Families live in them on a permanent basis
    • The settlements engage in commercial activity that generates the wealth needed to sustain them, and are not dependant on infusions of government funds.
    • They are large enough and diverse enough to be, at least potentially, both economically and biologically self-sustaining.
    • They may have a variety of organizational forms, including kibbutz style common ownership of the settlement, systems based on private property, company towns, or religious communities.

**  OffWorld is developing universal industrial robots for “heavy lifting” on Earth, Moon, asteroids and Mars: Meet OffWorld, the startup that wants to mine the moon with a swarm of robots | Digital Trends

To say that OffWorld’s dream is an ambitious one is to put it mildly. The company envisions a future in which millions of smart robots work together using swarm intelligence “on and offworld” to build the infrastructure of tomorrow. Long term, they even imagine the possibility of using the robots to mine for materials which could be used to build new chips “with zero reliance on terrestrial supply.”

Check out OffWorld’s Master Plan (pdf).

** Baking cookies and other tasty foods in space: Time Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, reports on the new baking system on the ISS: How NASA will bake in space for the first time and why that’s a BIG deal! – Everyday Astronaut

More at DoubleTree Cookies in Space – The First Food Ever Baked in Space

** A video of “Olympus”, Bigelow’s largest expandable habitat design:

Featuring a simple cut-away view of the B2100 “Olympus” to show the interior, this video is a compilation of previously uploaded Bigelow habitat clips as well as some new ones. Enjoy!

B330 and B2100 models by fragomatik.
ISS model by NASA, adapted for use within IMAGINE v2.19 by fragomatik.

** Space based solar power has been failed to reach orbit despite decades of proposals and advocacy. Perhaps big drops in launch costs and cheaper SBSP system designs will finally make it practical, especially for powering remote sites:  How to Get Solar Power on a Rainy Day? Beam It From Space | WIRED

In October, the Air Force Research Lab announced a $100 million program to develop hardware for a solar power satellite. It’s an important first step toward the first demonstration of space solar power in orbit, and [long time SBSP proponent John Mankins] says it could help solve what he sees as space solar power’s biggest problem: public perception. The technology has always seemed like a pie-in-the-sky idea, and the cost of setting up a solar array on Earth is plummeting. But space solar power has unique benefits, chief among them the availability of solar energy around the clock regardless of the weather or time of day.

It can also provide renewable energy to remote locations, such as forward operating bases for the military. And at a time when wildfires have forced the utility PG&E to kill power for thousands of California residents on multiple occasions, having a way to provide renewable energy through the clouds and smoke doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. (Ironically enough, PG&E entered a first-of-its-kind agreement to buy space solar power from a company called Solaren back in 2009; the system was supposed to start operating in 2016 but never came to fruition.)

“Illustration of One Version of the SPS-ALPHA Concept”. Credits: SPS-ALPHA NIAC study

See also

** Ntention‘s Astronaut Smart Glove tested at the Haughton Mars Project facility on remote Devon Island in northern Canada.

The NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) and collaborating organizations SETI Institute, Mars Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, Collins Aerospace, and Ntention are announcing the successful field test of an “astronaut smart glove” for future human exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The smart glove is a prototype for a human-machine interface (HuMI) that would allow astronauts to wirelessly operate a wide array of robotic assets, including drones, via simple single-hand gestures.

Here is a video about the project:

Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) video showing the first field test of a prototype “Astronaut Smart Glove”, a human-machine interface (HuMI) and augmented reality (AR) spacesuit system for future Moon and Mars exploration. Filmed at Haughton Crater, Devon Island, High Arctic. Collaborating organizations: Mars Institute, SETI Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, Collins Aerospace, and Ntention.

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Space settlement roundup – Nov.14.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to human expansion into the solar system (see also previous space settlement postings):

** A settlement on Mars has always been the primary goal for SpaceX. The accelerating development of the Starship space transport system means that such a settlement is becoming more feasible and nearer in time. In fact, if the Starship space transport system achieves Elon Musk’s expectation of a $10-20/kg operating cost to reach low earth orbit, then all sorts of  space concepts previously considered distant future sci-fi become feasible.

A SpaceX vision of a Mars settlement built by people transported there by Starships.

Elon recently posted at on Twitter a series of comments about Starship capabilities and how it would enable Mars settlement:

  • In response to a remark about $20/kg flight costs with the Starship, Elon said,  “The economics have to be something like that to build a self-sustaining city on Mars
  • A thousand ships will be needed to create a sustainable Mars city
  • Payload to orbit per year of Starship fleet is most mind-blowing metric, as it’s designed to fly 3X per day, which is ~1000X per year
  • If we build as many Starships as Falcons, so ~100 vehicles & each does 100 tons to orbit, that’s a capacity of 10 million tons of payload to orbit per year
  • Current global payload to orbit capacity is about 500 tons per year, of which Falcon is about half
  • So it will take about 20 years to transfer a million tons to Mars Base Alpha, which is hopefully enough to make it sustainable
  • In response to a comment about whether the Starship  is needed so one can “escape if the earth is getting close to its end”, Elon said, “No, in the beginning, assuming you even make it there alive, Mars will be far more dangerous & difficult than Earth & take decades of hard labor to make self-sufficient. That’s the sales pitch. Want to go?”
  • And in response to the comment, “It’s not about escaping, it’s about survival of the species if one planet is wiped out”, Elon said, “Exactly! It’s also a far more exciting & inspiring future if consciousness is out there among the stars, than forever confined to Earth until some eventual extinction event, however far in the future that may be (hopefully, very far)

** SpaceX appears especially interested in the Arcadia Planitia region as a potential site for a space settlement: SpaceX completes 1st round of Starship’s Mars landing site images | Behind The Black

Based on all this research and the image locations being chosen by SpaceX, we therefore might someday hear a pilot of Starship take a breath and then announce to the world, “Arcadia Base here, the Starship has landed.”

Arcadia Planitia shown in top left of map made by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor. Image via Wikipedia.

** Providing spin gravity with Starships on the way to Mars.

See the video caption for more details, discussion, and corrections.

** There were several presentations of in-space habitat designs at the recent SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise conference in Seattle. Most  of the panel presentations are available via the SSI 50 Space Settlement conference videos.

Here are David Livingston’s subsequent  interviews with three of those habitat designers:

**** The Space Show – Mon, 10/28/2019 –  Anthony Longman discussed “his expandable rotating shielded space habitats”.

Longman works at Sky Frame Research, which collaborates with Prof. Robert Skelton at Texas A&M Aerospace Engineering Dept. They have used two NASA NIAC grants (Tensegrity Approaches to In-Space Construction | NASA) to pursue a habitat design that can start small and then grow over time: Building A Habitat For Sustainable Life In Space – Texas A&M Today

Model of the space habitat designed by Robert Skelton and partners. The design allows for the habitat to start small and grow. Image credits: Justin Baetge/Texas A&M Engineering.

He proposes to start the habitat at the size of 20 meters radius, enough to sustain about 20 people, with the final structure being built over time out to 225 meters, housing 8,000 people with 300 square meters of agricultural space per person.

The initial habitat would be small and built from materials launched from Earth. Because material resources are costly in space, Skelton suggests using tensegrity systems for the design of the growth adaptable space structure. These minimal mass structures make the habitat easy to change in shape, and it’s very strong and lightweight. Subsequent growth stages of the habitat would rely on tensegrity robots mining materials from the moon and asteroids.

With the overall shape of the habitat designed in concentric cylinders, the outer shell would be a thick-wall of regolith for radiation protection that would rotate slowly to enhance stability. Regolith is a layer of loose, heterogeneous superficial deposits covering solid rock found on Earth, the moon and asteroids. The habitat inside would spin at a faster rate to provide artificial gravity (due to the centrifugal forces) for the inhabitants inside. The habitat would provide all levels of gravity from 0 G to 1 G where the lower g-level space is reserved for agriculture and the people occupy higher g-levels up to 1 G.

**** The Space Show – Thu, 10/24/2019Suzana Bianco discussed “Space architecture and her concept designs for free space habitats and stations”. See the slides from her SSI conference presentation: New Venice – set 2019 (pdf).

“New Venice” space habitat designed by Suzana Bianco. Presented at Space Studies Conference 2019. (Slides pdf)

See also this essay by Bianco: How I designed a space outpost – Space Decentral – Medium.

**** The Space Show – Mon, 10/07/2019John Blincow gave a “complete and thorough introduction to The Gateway Foundation Project including the Von Braun station, space hotels, commercial operations, orbital manufacturing and assembly and more”.

The Gateway Foundation’s Youtube channel also has several videos describing the Von Braun station. For example,

** Bigelow Aerospace opened up B330 and B2100 expandable habitat prototypes to the press on Sept.12th:

** Improved spacesuits are needed are needed for modern space endeavors. ILC Dover, which designed and built Apollo spacesuits, has developed a line of Commercial Spacesuits that includes the “Astro™, the EVA (Extravehicular Activity) spacesuit, and Sol™, the LEA (Launch, Entry and Abort) spacesuit”.

ILC Dover introduces the Sol™ LEA (Launch, Entry and Abort) suit shown on the left and the Astro™ EVA suit on the right with life support module designed by Collins Aerospace.

Both Astro™ EVA and Sol™ LEA will be vital in moving forward with commercial space travel. Combining astronaut needs with an emphasis on safety, ILC Dover has created the next generation spacesuits.

Astro™ EVA and Sol™ LEA spacesuits are designed with an astronaut’s mission in mind. Astro™ EVA is equipped with the newly patented Hybrid Upper Torso to accommodate all astronauts. The Hybrid Upper Torso can be resized without tools, thereby minimizing EVA spacesuit inventory. In addition, the engineers placed the mobility joints where it matters, optimizing mobility without compromising weight. Sol™ LEA is a lightweight highly mobile all soft spacesuit providing astronauts a comfortable safe ride to and from space.

** NASA recently debuted suits in development for the Artemis lunar missions: A New Spacesuit for Artemis Generation Astronauts | NASA

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