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Redundancies Needed in Space Travel

Updated on June 28, 2020
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Robert is an author, artist, graphic designer, and photographer. He writes about Survivalism and Futurism.

Sunrise in Space
Sunrise in Space | Source

Planning for Failure

We are going into space. More and more of us are going to live in space. This means we are going to need dependable ships that will not kill us if something fails. Something will fail. That is why there needs to be options if you lose a system that makes oxygen, or keeps us warm in cold space, or protects us from radiation.

Redundancy is a hedge against catastrophe. If we have a backup system, we won't die of hunger or be sucked out into space if a small crack appears in the hull of the ship. We must be ready for the worst possible outcome. With those redundancies in place, we will be free to explore the universe, with less fear and more boldness.

Ship Hull Layers

In space, our ship will be the only thing keeping us from the deadly vacuum that is outside. This is probably the most important part of living in space. If we don’t have a solid, clear partition between our environment and the lack of environment outside the ship, life will be cut short quickly.

it is so easy for there to be problems and for damage to the spaceship to escalate to a point where the air escapes and we are asphyxiate, or even worse, The air leaving the ship so quickly that the spaceship collapses in on itself crushing it like an aluminum soda can.

Having multiple layers making up the hull of the ship is important. This way if one layer fails you have a back up layer keeping the harsh environments of space outside the spaceship.

In a perfect world you would probably want to have half a dozen layers of external hull. you could build layers of conduit and hydraulic lines and water pipes in between these layers, allowing this space to not be a waste.

all the layers don’t need to be metal either. You could create a Kevlar layer, a fiberglass layer, an energy field layer if our technology is big enough to accomplish that kind of advancement. The idea is to create numerous numbers of barriers to protect human life within the spaceship.

Air Backup Systems

Even if we can keep the air inside our space ship, the quality of the air needs to be at specific levels. If all of our oxygen has been converted to carbon dioxide, we will fall asleep and never wake up.

our first source of oxygen would be what we bring with us from the planet surface. getting this product into space is another thing we have to account for when launching our supplies into space. Having these tanks ready and filled will mean we have the gas to keep ourselves alive but it’s not a permanent solution.

Building air scrubbers is not something foreign to us. We clean carbon dioxide from the air on the space station right now. We Also work hard to minimize the amount of ammonia and acetone that our bodies put off naturally into the air. Because the space station is an enclosed space, those chemicals can build up overtime.

We also work hard to minimize the amount of ammonia and acetone that our bodies put off naturally into the air. Because the space station is an enclosed space, those chemicals can build up overtime.

Making oxygen is relatively easy as long as you have plenty of water. Oxygen can be stored in tanks and released as needed. If we run out of oxygen from those tanks, we can separate the oxygen from the hydrogen and water to create more breathable air and have a power source from the flammable hydrogen. Building systems that can separate these two gases safely is and important task when designing a spaceship. The last thing you want is to have part of your ship explode from the inside out.

A third way to have oxygen is to build a large era Panik system that grows plants solely to convert carbon dioxide back to oxygen. To do this you will need sunlight and water and all the nutrients that plants need and then a way to recycle the plant material to grow them again.

Water Recovery

There is a limited amount of water inside of a spaceship. You can only carry it as much as your ship will hold. Finding sources of water outside earths gravity well is fairly difficult to come by. Unless you are minding astroids or chasing comments, you won’t find extra water to consume.

most water that you will use will be recycled from the air or the waste water system. The water will be cleaned and filtered so you can consume it again. Giant tanks of water would be preferable inside of a spaceship, maybe Holding marine life of some sort that humans can eat at some point. The water can be recycled through aeroponic gardens. You will take showers or sponge baths with the recycled water. That water can also be turned into oxygen and hydrogen to provide breathable air and a heat or power source.

eventually we will run out of water. You will have to replenish your supply. You will need to visit places like the rings of Saturn or the astroid belt to find new sources of water. If you can’t travel that kind of distance then it would be more likely to replenish your water supply from the surface of earth.

Gravity

The human body is made for the gravity we have here on earth. We are not built for zero-G life. Our muscles will atrophy and our brains will float within our skull, And scientists have come to believe our brains age faster within a zero gravity environment.

There are three ways that I can think of to provide gravity to our space craft. The first would be centripetal force. We spin the outer rings of our spacecraft and the resulting forces will push Everything out words. If we worked things out correctly, we could have a 1G environment in our working quarters and docking rings. We could have several rings spending a different rates depending on how close it is to the center of the ship. Each ring would still provide Gravity we are used to while giving us several layers of living space.

The second way to create gravity would be through electromagnetic attraction. We could use strong magnets in the decking plate to keep our feet on the ground. We could use electromagnetic fields to provide a directional pull. I think this option will be problematic because eventually the iron in our blood would settle into one spot closest to the magnetic source. It could be detrimental to her health.

The third option would be to create a ship around a black hole. I’m not talking a big gigantic hole that eats everything. I’m thinking about a small controlled black hole that we create. This black hole would pull them up on itself giving us a gravity towards the center of the ship. This will be a struggle on because controlling a black hole is extremely difficult. We would have to have a machine that could hold it in place while not being sucked into it. Black holes provide other advantages as well including power generation. But they can also be extremely dangerous. If something were to go wrong, the black hole could theoretically eat entire ship and everyone upon it.

Power Options

Without electricity our spaceship will not be able to go anywhere, sustain our lives or be anything other than a floating hunk of hollow metal. Electricity powers everything we use everyday. It protects us, keeps us warm and entertains us when we are bored, wether it be powering a TV or video games or running on a treadmill in the gym.

There are many ways to provide this power to our ships. One most people you think of is solar power. Since the ship is in space and can face solar cells towards the sun, we can collect the maximum amount of energy possible. I do believe that Solar cell technology will continue to expand as we need cleaner and more efficient ways of collecting electricity.

Right now, most solar panels have a energy efficiency rating of 10 to 15%. I think we will continue to improve the solar cells until we can collect 50 to 75% of that energy. The more energy we can collect, the more power we can provide to those who need it.

we cannot just rely on solar power. We have to be ready for those panels to fail. We have to have another power source. I believe in space that best option would most likely be nuclear power. I know it’s not the cleanest energy out there and can cause radiation poisoning but if we extend those nuclear plants out past where they are dangerous to humans and wire in the electricity generated from them then we may have an alternative to power that will last a very long time.

unlike solar cells that can be just turned off if they fail, nuclear power plants will need to be disconnected and jettison to avoid radiation affecting human life. But if we can build something that is stable enough to work for a long time


Radiation Shielding

The further away we get from Earth's atmosphere, the more radiation we will be exposed to. The majority of that radiation comes from the sun. Without proper shielding, we will die pretty quickly.

Our first defense is still Planet Earth. The Magnetic field (The Magnetosphere) created by the planet pushes away much of the sun's radiation. What does make it through can still cook us. To protect us from the rest of these dangerous particles, we have to use some sort of shielding to thwart the rest of the radiation that makes it through the Magnetosphere.

Right now, from what I have been able to read, the International Space Station is using polyethylene shielding to lower the amount of radiation that gets inside the craft. It is basically plastic that reacts less to the bombardment from solar rays.

Scientists can not lift enough of the heavier materials into space to build better shielding. It just costs too much to move it into space. Instead, we are looking at creating a manmade magnetic bubble around the ISS to keep more radiation out. This is problematic because it uses more power and we are not sure what the long term effects of such a magnetic field might cause on the human body. Those effects might be worse than the damage done by radiation.

If we can start building in space, using materials already in space, we might be able to build something more substantial. We could find those heavier rocks and metals that naturally block radiation and build a ship out of that.

In a perfect ship, we could have 3 layers. The first would be the stone/metal hull we build from an asteroid. The second could be the polyethylene shielding (The plastic Hull) inside the stone/metal layer. The third would be a Magnetic field we create around the ship. This might be created by the black hole we are using to generate enough gravity to keep us connected to the floor.

Personnel Morale

If we live in space full time, we will need to keep ourselves occupied. There will be plenty of work to be done to manage our lives out there, but we can't work all the time. The human mind can't handle that. We have to relax, to have fun, to interact with each other.

There will need to be enough options on a spacecraft to keep people entertained, to help them relax and rest so they can go back to work when the time comes.

Limited space makes most recreation difficult. Finding a place to sleep can be as easy as strapping yourself inside a sleeping bag. Getting exercise can be more challenging. If the ship is not big enough to run around, you may have to settle for a treadmill or a rowing machine. If the gravity is low, you could use a magnetic belt to pull your body weight to the ground while you do your pushups.

Entertainment can be as easy as a Virtual Reality system where you watch movies or play video games. You can meet other people on the ship while strapped inside your sleeping bag.


What Other Redundancies Do We Need as We Travel Through Space?

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