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Space: From Foray to Habitation A Plan for the Human Habitation of the Solar System. Prof. David Hyland Mech Aero – 2014 Hilton Philadelphia Airport Hotel September 8 -10, 2014. The Question.

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space from foray to habitation a plan for the human habitation of the solar system

Space: From Foray to HabitationA Plan for the Human Habitation of the Solar System

Prof. David Hyland

Mech Aero – 2014

Hilton Philadelphia Airport Hotel

September 8 -10, 2014

the question
The Question

Can humanity spread throughout the solar system beyond the Earth, using only technologies that already exist or are presently in an advanced stage of development?(No warp drives, matter transmit beams, dynamic Casimir thrusters or artificial gravity that does not use rotation, etc., etc.)

first step escaping the gravity well cheaply
First step: Escaping the gravity well (cheaply)
  • Attempt no “all purpose vehicle”. Separate functions, simplify components, build infrastructure
    • Establish a “garage” of reusable reentry vehicles in LEO
    • Use ELVs to transport both humans and cargo to LEO. Expectation is that human explorers will subscribe to an extended stay.
    • Design upper stages to be disassembled into standardized components that are used to build infrastructure and habitations
  • Bare-bones launch vehicle to orbit; transfer to space habitat; remain for indefinite mission period; transfer to reentry vehicle: return to earth
bootstrapping to the stars
Bootstrapping to the Stars
  • At all stages of development, use bootstrapping to finance activities
    • With minimum initial investment, start selling products (on Earth) based on dual use technologies
    • As revenue increases, set aside earnings for R&D for the space application
    • Avoidance of big investors permits the enterprise to maintain its focus on the ultimate goal of human space habitation
    • Progress step-by-step, paying your way as you go
habitation technology ht
“Habitation Technology” (HT)
  • HT = An integrated and portable system of technologies that enable a small group of humans to generate their consumables, mine local resources, and fabricate and repair their own tools.
    • Energy extraction and power generation
    • Compact, high yield agriculture
    • Waste processing and recycling
    • Atmosphere maintenance and recycling
    • Water recycling
    • Metallurgical exploration, extraction, processing and recycling
    • Rapid fabrication technology
    • Autonomous system control software
habitation technology ht bootstrapping
“Habitation Technology” (HT) Bootstrapping

Space Habitation

Aggregate R&D

In situ energy extraction/power generation

Compact, high yield agriculture

Waste processing and recycling

Terrestrial Application

first step in sustained human presence
First Step in Sustained Human Presence
  • First step: Launch two habitation modules (of modest dimensions). These are robotically capable of preparing for habitation ( Inflating, pressurizing cabins, etc.)
  • Send human crew who will exit the launch vehicles and enter, via ELV, the habitation modules.
  • The crew connects the two modules with a long cable, spins it up to produce a “bola” system, and conducts the first comprehensive experiments on the human requirements for artificial gravity during prolonged spaceflight.
    • In 5 decades of manned spaceflight, we still do not know how much “g” is needed to keep humans healthy indefinitely
design driver countering 0 g effects
Design Driver: Countering 0-g Effects

There is no completely satisfactory approach to countering 0-g effects aside from sustained artificial gravity.

We do not know how much “g” is required to maintain human health indefinitely (besides zero g = bad, and one g = good)

We will not know the answer to this for a long time, since long term experiments are required.

Therefore, we require:

1 g artificial gravity.

Acceptable levels of Coriolis effects

Exposure to 1g almost all the time

Orbiting Bolas = The first module in a series of permanently habitable platforms that return investment in space habitation
  • Establish long-term habitability requirements and solutions (gravity and radiation protection)
  • Partial implementation of HT
  • Space tourism
  • Orbital debris clearance and reclamation (moves several steps toward asteroid mining)
  • Test novel manufacturing processes exploiting vacuum and 0-g
2 nd step build infrastructure to enter the interplanetary super highway
2nd Step: Build infrastructure to enter the Interplanetary Super Highway
  • Establish Bola work stations and fuel cashes at the Earth-Moon, Sun-Earth L1 and L2 points
  • Tourism
  • Moon base transfer point
  • Astronomical observatories
  • NEA detection and monitoring
bolas combine in an interplanetary space ship
Bolas combine in an interplanetary space ship!
  • Take a Bola with 4 hab modules, add a walkway, cross truss, standoff truss and tensioned cable system  an interplanetary craft with sufficient room for the full habitation technology
interplanetary spacecraft space habitat with propulsion
Interplanetary Spacecraft = Space Habitat with Propulsion


Rotation Axis

Up to 3 yrs. Trip Time

12 Crew Members

Full complement of habitation technology

The Bola morphs into two segments of a torus

Essentially the smallest self- sustaining system that can support a dozen people

Can add hab modules and load-bearing cables to get a full torus (~150 people)

bola t wo segments of a torus
Bola Two Segments of a Torus!
  • Embed the hab modules in a stiff, light tensioned cable, compressed column structure – a proven approach to precision space structures.
    • Cables carry most of the centrifugal loading
    • Junctions are statically determinate, permitting accurate analysis
    • Stiffness is provided in all six rigid body hab module degrees of freedom.
    • Lowest vibration modes avoid frequencies that induce motion sickness
  • Design is expandable by adding more hab modules and more supporting cables
  • Note:
  • Cross truss and rotation axis column serve to give sufficient stiffness.
  • Cross truss supports agg modules
  • Propulsion engines located at tips of cross truss. Protects Hab and Agg modules from radiation. Provides control authority for both cm acceleration and rotation control
initial deployment spiral out to e m l1
Initial Deployment: Spiral out to E-M L1


Start in 300 km circular orbit about Earth

Spiral out to a coasting trajectory to the E-M L1 “throat”.

Meld into the Lyapunov orbit of L1 Station and refuel

Forbidden Zone

Propellant mass: 20 MT

Trip duration: 5.6 months

The L1/L2 region is the gateway to interplanetary space – where the spacecraft can “earn its keep”.

near earth objects as future resources
The comets and asteroids that are potentially the most hazardous because they can closely approach the Earth are also the objects that could be most easily exploited for their raw materials.

This is why low energy trajectories through the interior and exterior realms of the Sun-Earth system are of key importance

It has been estimated that the mineral wealth resident in the belt of asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter would be equivalent to about 100 billion dollars for every person on Earth today.

But we do not go to plunder the solar system of precious metals and deliver them to Earth, but to build new human communities in space.

Extractive economy? Development economy!

from e m l1 to s e l2 start of the first grand tour for mining

Orbit of the Moon

L1 Lyapunov Orbit


From E-M L1 to S-E L2: Start of the First grand Tour (for mining)
  • After refueling, leave L1 on the outward invariant manifold.
  • Swing by the Moon and exit the E-M L2 throat in time to meld with a heteroclinic orbit leading to the Sun-Earth L2
  • Take one turn around the Lyapunov orbit and enter the external domain of the Sun-Earth system

E-L1 to S-L2: V=12m/s, 50 days

122,720 km





Earth-Moon Frame

Sun-Earth Frame

asteroid mining tours exterior realm

Sun-Earth System


Asteroid Mining Tours: Exterior Realm
  • Drop off cargo at L1 Station. Leave L1 Lyapunov orbit. Follow heteroclinic orbit to L2 (pink line, left to right) (drop off cargo at Earth-Moon system)
  • Meld into L2 Lyapunov orbit, follow for ¾ of a period, then follow the unstabile manifold (green line, heading down)


3.0 million km

Sun-Earth Frame

through s e l2 to the grand tour of the exterior realm



3-2 resonance

Through S-E L2 to the Grand Tour of the Exterior Realm

3. Follow the homoclinic, exterior domain orbit (green path issuing from L2 and going clockwise)

4. Mine Amors and Apollos on the way (3 years)

Then: see next slide

1 AU

heteroclinic transfer between exterior and interior realms

Sun-Earth System


Heteroclinic Transfer Between Exterior and Interior Realms
  • Follow homoclinic exterior domain orbit to L2 on the stable manifold (green line, pointing down, left). Refurbish and repair at L2 Station
  • Meld into L2 Lyapunov orbit, follow for ½ of a period, then follow the heteroclinic orbit to L1 (pink line, right to left).


3.0 million km

  • Deliver cargo to Earth-Moon system. Meld into L1 Lyapunov orbit, Exchange crew and refuel at L1 Station.
  • Follow Lyapunov orbit for one period, then follow the homoclinic interior domain orbit (blue line heading to the left)
through s e l1 to the grand tour of the interior realm
Through S-E L1 to the Grand Tour of the Interior Realm

9. Follow the homoclinic, interior domain orbit (red path issuing from L1 and going counter clockwise)

10. Mine Atens and Apollos on the way (two years)

11. Then follow the stable manifold to L1 (blue line in previous slide, heading to the right).

12. Refuel and exchange crew at L1 station.

Go to step 1 and repeat.

Forbidden zone



3-2 resonance

near earth objects as future resources cont

Whereas asteroids are rich in the mineral raw materials required to build

structures in space, the comets are rich resources for the water and carbon-

based molecules necessary to sustain life.

In addition, an abundant supply of cometary water ice could provide large

quantities of liquid hydrogen and oxygen, the two primary ingredients in

rocket fuel.

As we begin to colonize the inner solar system, the metals and minerals found on asteroids will provide the raw materials for more infrastructure, space colonies, and space ships. Comets will become the watering holes and gas stations for the interplanetary spacecraft. Reference: Lewis, John S. Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets and Planets. Addison-Wesley, 1996.

deep space voyagers becomes space colonies
Deep Space Voyagers becomes Space Colonies

“Mature” some spacecraft, growing them into complete tori and plant them as permanent stations (for resupply, repair and R&R) at Lagrange points or other orbital transfer points

Crew of 12

Colony of 150



For cargo or conventional vehicles, the interplanetary spacecraft can be complemented by the Rotovator


Between cargo launches, an on-board low thrust propulsion system performs orbit maintenance

Cargo is released at 2V0, placing it into a hyperbolic escape orbit

 = 2Vo/L

Surface of planet

Rotovators combine the efficiency of high Isp propulsion with the high thrust of chemical propulsion (but without chemical rocketry)


 = 2Vo/L

To design the rotovator, we need to find the variable cross section that will keep axial stresses below the ultimate yield stress of the material

A(s) = r2(s)


Volumetric mass density = 



A Sample of Material Properties

tenacious speed = (Tensile modulus/ density)1/2

rotovators can be fabricated within current technology
Rotovators can be fabricated within current technology
  • Rotovators can be made much smaller and much less massive than space elevators
  • Exotic, untested materials with enormous strength-to-weight ratios are not required
  • Can be fabricated from asteroidal materials
  • Can be made as free-fliers (called rotors) for in space orbit changes with large Vs
  • Can be stationed at the L1/L2 gateways to boost vehicles to Mars and beyond



The Rotovator (Rotor) as an Orbit Raising Device

Cargo in LEO


Rotovator in elliptical orbit

  • Cargo vehicle in LEO. Rotovator in elliptical orbit with rmin = rLEO+ L/2
  • One end of rotovator hooks up with cargo. Rotovator makes one half turn and releases cargo at speed 2Vmax–VLEO
  • Cargo travels on a much more eccentric ellipse – out to near L1
  • Then cargo proceeds via a low-thrust trajectory to lunar orbit
toward the habitation of the solar system
Toward the Habitation of the Solar System
  • Send deep space voyagers to take up stations near the Moon, Mars, Mercury and the moons of Saturn and Jupiter
  • From these orbiting stations, plant ground-dwelling settlements with habitation technology modules (provided that adequate “g” is much less than 1g.)
  • Habitation technology modules will also be planted on Earth (perhaps in otherwise uninhabitable areas).
  • We will build a community of communities spanning the solar system – an Oikoumenê of many worlds!
an off earth economy will begin to grow and ultimately dwarf that of earth
An off-Earth economy will begin to grow – and ultimately dwarf that of Earth

Space Habitats

Homes for all Mankind

Rare minerals and metals

Advanced zero-g manufacturing

Protection of the Commons

Discovery and new knowledge

Invention and scientific advance

Outer Moon Colonies


Inner Planet Colonies

what will life be like
What will life be like?
  • Small human communities will be spread across great distances
    • Transport of bulk materials impractical
    • Trade in rare commodities and devices
    • Mainly trade in ideas, inventions and discoveries
  • Ethical norms are shaped by one’s way of life
    • Space inhabitants confront cosmic necessities (not a man-made world)
    • Truthfulness in everything is everything!
    • Word of honor, not litigation. Generosity not acquisitiveness
    • Enough for everyone is a feast!
  • Every human being will be precious
    • Capital will bid for labor. People too few, not too many
    • Oikoumenê of many worlds = The Household
a new civilization
A New Civilization?
  • In undertaking a great journey, people must choose what to take along and what to leave behind.
    • The choice demands a decision about the most precious human experiences
  • Every society has as its basis a fundamental human experience.
    • Helenic – Beauty
    • Siriac – Ultimate Spiritual Reality
    • Western Christendom – Power of the Machine
    • Why not: Curiosity, Thrill of Discovery, and Awe?