Artificial Gravity has remained a great idea explored only in sci-fi movies for years. But with the recent improvement and advancements in developing more sophisticated space technologies, we are on the course of bringing this idea to a reality. But how can we achieve artificial gravity despite numerous problems facing humanity in deep space? Is there any possibility of building this technology in this century? What problems do we wish to solve with artificial gravity? Continue reading to find out.
What is Artificial Gravity?
Artificial gravity is the creation of an inertial force that copies the effect of gravitational force through a rotation means. Artificial gravity also referred to as rotational gravity is the creation of a centrifugal force within a rotating frame of a spaceship. This centrifugal force is meant to oppose the force experienced in linear acceleration. For years, the concept is only seen in our movies.
But Scientists are exploring the idea of creating artificial gravity spaceships to provide a friendly environment for our astronauts and space tourists in space. Researchers clearly understand that the concept of artificial gravity will surely revolutionize space exploration and make complex tasks to become much easier for astronauts. In fact, artificial gravity will open to door to many opportunities including boosting space tourism, reducing the impact of the weightless environment of space on the human body, and many others.
Indeed, actualizing artificial gravity in the 21st century will take our civilization to a new era of space exploration. But before we learn the possibilities of implementing this technology, let’s explore how the idea of artificial gravity actually began.
Who came up with artificial gravity?
During the second industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century, the world began to move towards a new era of technological advancement. It was during that period Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a Russian rocket scientist began to think outside the box. In 1903, Tsiolkovsky made a publication about using rotation to generate artificial gravity in space.
In 1929, Herman Potočnik Noordung, a rocket engineer and futuristic published a book titled the Problem of Space Traveling. In this book, Noordung explained how a spinning wheel station with about a 30-meter diameter will revolutionize space exploration in the future.
Wernher von Braun was another notable rocket engineer that shared his opinion about building a space station with artificial gravity. In 1952, Von Braun popularized the conceptual design of an advanced futuristic orbital space station that would have the capacity of rotating at a certain speed and generating synthetic gravity for astronauts aboard the station. In recent times, scientists are making realistic approaches toward bringing this futuristic idea into a reality.
How We Are Working towards Creating Artificial Gravity in Space.
In September 1974, Gerard O’Neill, an American Physicist published the concept of creating artificial gravity in space using a futuristic technology known as the O’Neill cylinder. According to Gerard, this technology will be built as a pair of giant cylinders that will rotate in opposite directions to keep them directed permanently towards the sun and generate gravity for people aboard the station.
While many scientists and space enthusiasts are seeing this idea as something above our current technology, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin is already seeing the possibility in the near future. Bezos proposed the concept of O’Neill cylinders as a technology that will enable humans to build floating space colonies to provide a livable environment to trillions of humans in low earth orbit. The plan is to build cylinders of about 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) in length and 4 miles (6.4 km) in diameter. If we must replicate this futuristic idea, we should be aiming at implementing it on a smaller scale to test the possibility of doing it on a larger scale.
Scientists working at the University of Boulder Colorado have already done the small-scale implementation to prove that we can possibly build a giant O’Neill cylinder in the future. The rotating systems built by these researchers could fit perfectly inside the rooms of spacecraft.
However, the outcome of this study will not provide artificial gravity to the entire spacecraft or station. But it enabled scientists to learn that astronauts can enjoy Earth-likeEarth-like gravity in certain areas of the spacecraft. The system used for the study deploys centrifugal acceleration to replicate a gravitational field of 1G, implying that astronauts will surely experience earthlike gravity when they walk into the system in space.
The Plans for Voyager Space Station
Orbital Assembly Corporation, an American manufacturing company is working on beginning with the construction of the Voyager Space Station in 2025. This space station will have artificial gravity and be opened to the general public. OAC plans to place the station in a low-Earth orbit and spin enough to create artificial gravity for its 400 visitors. If the company successfully completes the space station, it will set a new record by becoming the biggest human-made object in orbit.
OAC plans to begin the construction by building prototype gravitational rings, which will be used to boost artificial gravity in space. The company reveals that this ring will be about 200-foot (61-meter) in diameter. It will generate about 40 percent of Earth’s gravity, which will be equivalent to the gravity of Mars. Through this approach, its 400 occupants will feel the huge impact of the weightless environment of space on their bodies.
What Problems can we solve with Artificial Gravity?
When astronauts explore the weightless environment of space, they usually experience some health challenges, especially during a long-term space mission. However, NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) has been studying the effects of microgravity on the human body for more than five decades. Based on their observations, they discovered that astronauts in space suffer bone loss monthly.
These studies reveal that muscle mass loses faster when under microgravity conditions. Scientists have also discovered that fluids in the human body often shift upwards during spaceflights. This can significantly add extra pressure on astronauts’ eyes’ and may likely expose them to eye-related problems. However, replicating earth-like gravity inside the spacecraft or stations will protect astronauts from the impact of spaceflights on the human body.
Artificial gravity is a technology that will surely revolutionize space exploration. In fact, we are slowly getting closer to a future where we can implement this technology in our every spaceflight. What are your thoughts on Artificial gravity?