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MatChup's avatar

What would it take to build a massive inter galactic space station and house even one hundred thousand people, not even 1% of the US population?

Asked by MatChup (204points) February 15th, 2011

Just imagine the enormous effort it will take to build such gigantic station, let alone all the resources it will take to maintain it to provide all the needs of the population “living”: in.
If we can’t produce more than what we consume on earth, will we be able to reverse these roles in outer space? I seriously doubt it we can pull it off.

The ISS –International Space Station- couldn’t even be considered as a permanent residence, is more for experimentation and exploration purposes only. “In all, the living space on the “ISS”: station amounts to the equivalent of roughly one-and-a-half Boeing 747s”

Since there is no oxygen for us to breathe, we would only have a “few”: seconds to survive without oxygen. We would probably have to create a huge nuclear plant to produce it and sustain our life. How would our “health”: be affected by the surrounding environment? “With no gravity exerting itself on the body, both bones and muscles begin to waste. For every month in space, astronauts lose around 2% of their bone mass”
How will the food source system be set up? Are we gonna eat food pills that expand into a real steak and mash potatoes after a few minutes of microwave exposure?
Where are we gonna throw all the waste of what we consume? This is good for a change I guess: “The astronauts’ urine, incidentally, is recycled into clean water.”

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11 Answers

markferg's avatar

Make it really, really, really big. Call it ‘planet’.

Sandman's avatar

This is a big question. Do the people have to be awake? Or can we reduce life functions to a more energy-efficient level?

MatChup's avatar

@Sandman, reduce life functions to a minimum, huh!! Even with an energy efficient program in place, we will still use a lot of resources. Can we recycle everything we consume? Whatever can be recycled, how many times it can actually be recycled before it loses its functionality? Question is where are we gonna get these resources from? A lot of people have said that we need to continue space exploration so that when resources here on earth begin to run out, we have a place to go. What planet besides earth can provide the resources to supply the needs for our survival?

Mariah's avatar

I don’t think this would be a sustainable option, and people who talk about migrating elsewhere need to realize that it would be far less effort to conserve what we have here on Earth.
However, I have thought about this concept a lot. For a while I was writing a little sci-fi story about exactly this. Gravity can be simulated by a rotating cylindrical spacecraft. If it rotates at just the right speed in relation to its radius, the resulting “centrifugal” force creates freefall acceleration of 1g.
You ask a lot of questions that are difficult to answer, though.

MatChup's avatar

@Mariah, yeah!! there are a lot of things to consider before we can even begin to think that this scenario is even possible. Yet the world is spending so much money into this project that it may turn out to be a total waste. Unless we find another planet with the same conditions as what we have here on earth, we are doomed and to even think we can reach to that billion light years away planet is like a big dream.

Mariah's avatar

@MatChup ? Is this project actually being pursued?
We don’t currently have the technology to reach planets outside our solar system. The closest planet that we know about outside our solar system is hundreds of light years away, which means it would take hundreds of years to reach it, and that’s if we were moving at the speed of light, which (to our knowledge at this time) is impossible. We have not found another planet with conditions humans could live in. I hestitate to believe that this is a project anybody is taking more seriously than just speculation.

MatChup's avatar

@Mariah, There has been a pursuit for “life”: in other planets for some time now. These scientists are what we now know them as “astrobiologists”: they are leading investigations for NASA these days. Take a look at this “news”: story, so to answer your question yes we have a huge budget for it.

Mariah's avatar

@MatChup I don’t quite follow. Looking for life on other planets is a far different thing than trying to build a spacecraft to move mankind to another planet.

MatChup's avatar

@Mariah, well scientists need to keep all options open, whichever comes first and whichever is more feasible, less cost and more reliable, the more options available the better.

mattbrowne's avatar

Why not start with an interplanetary or interstellar space station?

ro_in_motion's avatar

If you require an Intergalactic space station, first thing is to develop intergalactic transportation: it almost certainly won’t happen in our life time.

I suggest you look into Gerard O’neill’s L5 habitats as there has been a lot of work done on this. While building a habitat for 100K people is relatively straightforward, please don’t forget that filling it with air, water, soil and people would require horrendously large numbers of launches from the earth. Add to this environmental nightmare by having to provide enough shielding to keeping the sun from killing you with the solar storms and you begin to see that this, to, is a Sisyphean task.

Nearly all these problems are solved by building a base on the moon. You have (some) gravity which is better for humans than none whatsoever. You have the entire moon acting as a shield against radiation. It probably has all the elements needed to create air and water. So, after an initially high expense of getting the first base started, the rest could be built in situ. Once self-sustaining, it could grow its own population to 10K.

If the moon is too large and/or too close, you have, among many, the moons of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn to choose from. While moving Deimos and Phobos wouldn’t affect the orbital mechanics of Mars much, I can’t even begin to imagine moving moons of Saturn or Jupiter to near-Earth orbit for outfitting.

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