Space settlement roundup – Mar.30.2019

A sampling of items that I’ve come across related to space settlement:

** 3 private teams share a $100,000 award from NASA for their Mars habitat design submissions in the agency’s 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge:

Teams competing in NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge completed the latest level of the competition – complete virtual construction – and the top three were awarded a share of the $100,000 prize purse. This stage of the challenge required teams to create a full-scale habitat design, using modeling software. This level built upon an earlier stage that also required virtual modeling.

Team SEArch+/Apis Cor won first place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. The unique shape of their habitat allows for continuous reinforcement of the structure. Light enters through trough-shaped ports on the sides and top. Credits: Team SEArch+/Apis Cor

Eleven team entries were scored and awarded points based on architectural layout, programming, efficient use of interior space, and the 3D-printing scalability and constructability of the habitat. Teams also prepared short videos providing insight into their designs as well as miniature 3D-printed models that came apart to showcase the interior design. Points were also awarded for aesthetic representation and realism. After evaluation by a panel of judges, NASA and challenge partner Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, awarded the following teams:

    1. SEArch+/Apis Cor – New York – $33,954.11
    2. Zopherus – Rogers, Arkansas – $33,422.01
    3. Mars Incubator – New Haven, Connecticut – $32,623.88

The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge will culminate with a head-to-head subscale structure print May 1-4, 2019, and the awarding of an $800,000 prize purse. Media and the public will be invited to attend the event in Peoria, Illinois.

This video describes the top scoring Team SEArch+/Apis Cor Mars habitat design:

In February, Team SEArch+/Apis Cor Mars and three others shared $300,000 after their 3D printing samples withstood a series of tests:

Four teams will share a $300,000 prize for successful completion of the seal test stage of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a competition to create sustainable shelters suitable for the Moon, Mars or beyond using resources available on site in these locations. For this level of the competition, teams submitted 3D-printed samples that were tested for their ability to hold a seal, for strength and for durability in temperature extremes.

Team Zopherus won second place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. The team’s design would be constructed by an autonomous roving printer that prints a structure and then moves on to the next site. Credits: Zopherus.
Watch their virtual video model here.
The virtual design from team Mars Incubator won third place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. The team is a collection of engineers and artists.  Credits: Mars Incubator
Watch their virtual video model here.

** Dennis Wingo talk at at NASA Ames on March 6th, 2019 in which he lays out the “direction and steps to the Industrialization of the Moon”:


** Some space settlement related conferences upcoming this year:

**** International Space Development Conference 2019 (ISDC 2019), June 6-9, Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel, Arlington, Virginia.

The National Space Society‘s annual conference always has many Space Settlement Sessions on the agenda.

**** SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise | Space Studies Institute (SSI) –  Sept 9-10, Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

A renewal of the Space Studies Institute‘s series of conferences:

The Space Settlement Enterprise will be an exciting two-day event featuring some of the space industry’s top thinkers. Nestled alongside history-making exhibits, experts will seek to identify the technological and economic obstacles to space settlement. Panel discussions will cover six major areas:

    • Habitats and Facilities: What do we want to build?
    • Construction: How do we build it?
    • Resources: Where and how do we get the materials?
    • Transport: How do we get there?
    • Life in Space: How do we survive there?
    • Economics: How do we pay for it?

We have structured the event to allow plenty of time for questions and audience interaction. The questions developed at this conference will inform SSI’s research programs over the next few years.

On a recent episode of The Space ShowEd Wright previewed SSI:50 The Space Settlement Enterprise:

**** New Worlds 2019 Space Settlement Conference, Austin, Texas, Nov.15-16, 2019

The annual meeting sponsored by The Earthlight Foundation (ELF) , which is

a non-profit, non-partisan organization founded and incorporated in 2012 to support the expansion of life and humanity beyond the Earth by providing vision, leadership and credibility.

The organization is run by a small core team encompassing broad field expertise relevant to space exploration, settlement, engineering and communications. ELF is minimalist in management structure to remain flexible and drive effective execution.

The Foundation’s mission is to support

the expansion of life and humanity beyond the Earth by creating, catalyzing and managing projects and activities that lead to public inspiration, education and action relating to space exploration and settlement – and to protect and expand the domain of life and humanity on this world by returning and applying the knowledge thus gained.

** Space based solar power has often been cited as a possible economic driver for in-space settlements. Here is a talk by Prof. Sergio Pellegrino of CalTech on the latest results of a multi-year project to develop a plan for space based solar power:

In 1968, Peter Glaser, the father of space solar power, envisaged kilometer-scale space systems comprising solar collectors and transmitting antennas that would beam power to the earth from geostationary orbit, but that dream has remained elusive. Until now. In his talk, Sergio Pellegrino will discuss the Caltech Space Solar Power Project’s pursuit to conceive, design, and demonstrate a scalable vision for a constellation of ultralight, modular spacecraft that collect sunlight, transform it into electrical power, and wirelessly beam that electricity to the earth. The basic module of this future solar power system is a giant coilable structure that elastically deploys after launch into orbit, and is made of paper-thin materials of high stiffness.

Sergio Pellegrino is the Joyce and Kent Kressa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering at Caltech in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; and Co-Director of the Space-Based Solar Power Project.

** A rotating habitat structure in space can provide “spin gravity” to simulate the mass gravity force on earth. Ideally the whole habitat spins and provides an earth-like environment along the inside wall of the structure.

A Bernal Sphere design for an in-space habitat. The structure rotates around the long axis to provide 1g spin gravity. Credits NASA Ames

In a small spacecraft such as a transport ship to Mars, it would not be practical to spin the structure beyond what could provide a small fraction of earth’s 1g. One possible way around this would be for the crew members to periodically undergo rides on a spin table. Detrimental health effects similar to those caused by long term exposure to weightlessness have been seen in subjects undergoing extended bed rest. ESA and NASA are sponsoring a new bed-rest study to test whether periodic rides on a spin table will ameliorate the negative consequences of lying horizontally for months at a time: Testing the value of artificial gravity for astronaut health – ESA

Once a day, a selection of the study’s participants will lie in DLR’s short-arm centrifuge. There they will be spun to encourage blood to flow back towards their feet and allow researchers to understand the potential of artificial gravity in combating the effects of weightlessness.

The intensity of the centrifugal force is able to be adapted to each person according to their size. DLR can also adjust the centre of spin so that subjects are spun around their heads or their chests. Changing the position in this way could have far-reaching consequences for rehabilitation but, as this is a new domain, these consequences are currently unknown.

A number of different experiments will be carried out over the course of the study, looking at cardiovascular function, balance and muscle strength, metabolism and cognitive performance among other factors. Seven of these experiments will be conducted by European-led research groups, with a view to validating the findings on the International Space Station during future missions.

The short-arm centrifuge at the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) :envihab facility in Cologne, Germany will be used during the first joint long-term bedrest rest study commissioned by ESA and US space agency NASA to investigate the potential of artificial gravity in mitigating the effects of spaceflight. The study begins on 25 March 2019 and will run for 89 days. Test subjects will need remain in beds with the head end tilted 6 degrees below horizontal for 60 of these days to simulate the microgravity of space.


The High Frontier: An Easier Way