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NASA Engineers Building Mockup of Deep Space Station

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the split-infinitive dept.

NASA 64

MarkWhittington writes "NASA engineers at the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Ala., are building a mockup of what appears to be a deep space habitat, though it could also be part of an interplanetary spacecraft. The purpose is to do human factors studies to find out how to sustain astronauts on lengthy deep space missions."

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First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41752319)

Banned Slashdot Troll Mocks the fuck Up of Slashdot.
 
  -- Ethanol-fueled

The key is preparation (4, Insightful)

halltk1983 (855209) | about 2 years ago | (#41752413)

I'm glad to see that they are working more on this. The more we understand about the effects of solitude, the better we will be able to combat them. Glad we're getting this out of the way so that when propulsion and radiation shielding are ready, so are the people that will use them.

Re:The key is preparation (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 2 years ago | (#41752519)

I have to say, I was really hoping to see something more like this [0catch.com] .

Re:The key is preparation (4, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41752533)

There are many /.ers who could do the trip to Mars standing on their heads. After decades in their mom's basement with no human contact except mom and the pizza delivery guy, 2 years in a capsule will be a breeze. Just so long as mom can come along.

Re:The key is preparation (5, Interesting)

Baron_Yam (643147) | about 2 years ago | (#41752649)

You jest... but people with hermit tendencies who are satisfied getting most of their social contact through a computer interface might be the pool from whom we select deep space astronauts.

Finding them in suitable physical condition, with appropriate education, and with proper social skills to deal with a small group of people just like themselves would probably winnow that group down considerable. Still, probably a much better starting point than air force pilots.

Do you play D&D? Yes, why? You're in! (5, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 years ago | (#41752791)

>> proper social skills to deal with a small group of people just like themselves

"Do you play D&D?"
"Yes, why?"
"You're in!"

Re:Do you play D&D? Yes, why? You're in! (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41752833)

The problem with that is they won't be playing online games due to the latency issues so the only people they can play with are their co-workers.

No escape anywhere.

Re:Do you play D&D? Yes, why? You're in! (3, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41752887)

Like I said, they will need to bring mom along to keep the peace and enforce washing.

Re:Do you play D&D? Yes, why? You're in! (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 2 years ago | (#41753609)

I don't care for online gaming: just SMAC/X against the computer, using maps and factions I design. I've been playing this game over and over again, since 2001, so I think I'm qualified.

Re:Do you play D&D? Yes, why? You're in! (2)

painandgreed (692585) | about 2 years ago | (#41754103)

>> proper social skills to deal with a small group of people just like themselves

"Do you play D&D?"
"Yes, why?"
"You're in!"

Of course, then it turns out after launch that one is a AD&D grognard and the other is a fan of 4E. Interpersonnel violence occurs and the mission never makes it past the moon.

Re:Do you play D&D? Yes, why? You're in! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41778923)

Mom says D&D only. You can use Greyhawk, Blackmoor, all the supplements except Eldritch Wizardry (Which mom vetos because of cover art).

If you need any other rules or monsters the DM can just make them up. Why? Weight savings.

Re:Do you play D&D? Yes, why? You're in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41759297)

Alert! Alert! Security measures have intercepted attempt to "get it/be hip". Infiltration by law enforcement and/or parental figure quarantined. Geek card revoked.

If you feel this measure has been reached in error, please contact Paizo about Pathfinder RPG. Feel secure as the manual has been encrypted with 512 bit basementdweller7/nerd3.2 or geek2012. Password tables have been salted, hashed, mashed and caffeinated.

Should this alert confuse you, please pick up your copy of "D&D 4th ed" and continue playing. (waves hand) These are not the droids you're looking for.

Re:The key is preparation (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41753383)

Yeah, but don't astronauts have to be in shape?

Re:The key is preparation (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#41753611)

Yeah, but don't astronauts have to be in shape?

"The Right Stuff" aside, why? Only moderate amounts of exercise are required to minimize disease. Living under house arrest at 0G it's hard to see the relevance of being able to bench 300 earth-pounds or run a 5 minute mile. Perhaps excessive exercise would just be a waste of food.

Re:The key is preparation (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 2 years ago | (#41754129)

if you ever want to experience 1G again, you'd better exercise.

Re:The key is preparation (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41761263)

Interestingly enough, those astronauts who weren't athletes or at least not in strong athletic conditioning here on the Earth before their trips into space seem to have less of a problem in space than those in peak physical condition before going up. There may be some need for exercise in space, but it isn't necessarily the only thing to consider. Overall general health and reasonable diets seem to be a much more important factor.

The one significant issue that seems to be an ongoing issue is calcium loss.... that may be arrested or at least kept in check if some sort of modest partial gravity situation (aka rotating the spacecraft like the "space wheel" in 2001: A Space Odyssey). Running a marathon (one astronaut "competed" in the Boston Marathon from the ISS) is certainly not necessary if you want to return back to the Earth.

Considering that most current American astronauts are folks in their 40's and 50's with advanced degrees (sometimes several), astronauts really are no longer the hot-shot fighter jocks portrayed in "The Right Stuff" any more.

Re:The key is preparation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41754189)

Wasn't this one of the points from StarGate Universe for why they beamed Eli aboard?

Re:The key is preparation (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#41754973)

I nominate Westboro Baptist Church, for the following reasons:

1. The church is a small, tight-knit group of mostly family members.
2. They won't back down from their mission, regardless of personal cost.
3. They all share the same very narrow-minded world view, so the possibility of moral conflicts or dissent in any form will be quite limited. Risk of mutiny would be all but eliminated.
4. Sound does not travel through the vacuum of space, and radio transmissions will grow weaker and take longer the further they travel away from earth.
5. They live under the threat of death everyday from every extremist group on the planet, and also from a few ordinary people as well, so the perils and dangers of deep space travel will not be a challenge to them.
6. The mission will be a great way to get them off this planet.
7. If the mission suffered a catastrophic failure and the entire crew was lost, there would be no negative sentiment from the American public and the space programs could proceed unaffected except by the financial and project timeline setbacks.
8. Since the life, safety, and comfort of the crew would be of no concern at all, the vessel and enclosed equipment could be constructed with record-breaking cost savings.
9. If cosmic radiation renders the crew sterile and unable to reproduce - two birds, one stone.
10. Cut the costs in half by making the voyage a one-way trip.

Re:The key is preparation (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41762223)

The problem is they'd probably decide that Mars was a gay planet and refuse to set foot on it.

Re:The key is preparation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41753523)

Sure, two years of latency above 1,000,000 ms...
I think they will be insane rather quickly.

Re:The key is preparation (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41752605)

No offense, but we understand the psychological effect of isolation pretty well. I think the real value to something like this is just getting an idea of what one needs to live and perform tasks in a peculiar, unfamiliar, perhaps very cramped environment with the property that if you need something, it probably can be delivered to you inside of a few months or years.

Re:The key is preparation (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41753367)

It isn't like space stations area new concept that has never been tried before. I'd dare say that unless you are planning on doing something really daring like a space station capable of holding about 100 people simultaneously and deal with significant logistical issues that sort of scale of activity presents, you aren't really cutting new ground in this area of human endeavor.

The Manned Venus Flyby [wikipedia.org] looked like an interesting project that certainly would require things like radiation protection and long term sustainability in space without immediate or even short-term resupply. On the other hand, I wish they would expand upon the concept of the NAUTILUS-X [wikipedia.org] , which instead of simply an Earth-Moon L-5 laboratory like seems to be presented with this article is a genuine spaceship (as opposed to spacecraft).

The lack of using either a Trans-hab like module or one of the Bigelow modules seems to be a real lack of even seeing what the current state of the art technology in this area is even at. The idea of using cylinders that would need to be limited in size by the the cargo bay of a shuttle seems incredibly old fashioned thinking in particular. There is no particular reason why the quarters need to be cramped, other than the fact that the modules presumably must be built on the Earth and get through the atmosphere in some fashion first before being deployed. Space is huge, so mind bogglingly large that it seems ludicrous that quarters in spaceflight should be cramped at all. Mass has some role to play, but moving a cubic meter or two of air (which is needed anyway) is trivial by comparison.

Bigelow Aerospace has been studying these issues, and will likely relegate projects like this onto the ashheap of other failed NASA programs like SLS, Constellation, Dynasoar, and DC-X. If they don't actually plan on building these things, I wonder in part why they even bother with progressing yesterday's technology one step further towards today.

Re:The key is preparation H (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41754403)

so the butt hurt of the american public can be realized and they wont even have to go there.....

lets just make a tv series and save money

Re:The key is preparation (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41761985)

I'm glad to see that they are working more on this. The more we understand about the effects of solitude, the better we will be able to combat them. Glad we're getting this out of the way so that when propulsion and radiation shielding are ready, so are the people that will use them.

If you want to see the effects of solitude, why not just lock people up in solitary confinement in a prison for a few months? It needn't be wasted time just sitting there staring at the walls, as I'm sure you could give them a pile of relevant tasks to do

I don't see why you need to build a replica spacecraft to see how people respond to being locked up for a long time.

Submariner experience? (3, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 years ago | (#41752423)

Since this seems to be about how little space do you need to give a human over a long period of time before he/she goes insane, why not start with the actual experiences of our submariners under similar conditions?

Re:Submariner experience? (1)

f3rret (1776822) | about 2 years ago | (#41752751)

Since this seems to be about how little space do you need to give a human over a long period of time before he/she goes insane, why not start with the actual experiences of our submariners under similar conditions?

Fairly certain they did this already, I have faith that an organization like NASA would look at existing data and include it in their study.

Re:Submariner experience? (3, Interesting)

plaukas pyragely (1630517) | about 2 years ago | (#41752993)

And you are quite right: From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquarius_(laboratory) [wikipedia.org] :

Since 2001, NASA has used Aquarius for its NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) program, to study various aspects of human spaceflight in a similar environment. Like the environment of space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. Aquarius provides a safe harbor for scientists to live and work for weeks at a time.

Re:Submariner experience? (1)

drumlight (1244276) | about 2 years ago | (#41753443)

Here is a tellephone call with Astronaut Scott Carpenter speaking to President Johnson from the helium atmosphere in the 1963 Sealab II project. The President's operator is very suspicous of Scott's voice and they have some trouble getting connected to the President. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg0pMbc7Opk [youtube.com]

Re:Submariner experience? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41752781)

why not start with the actual experiences of our submariners under similar conditions?

What makes you think they haven't already done just that? You can only go so far with field studies - at some point you need to put the rats in a maze.

Re:Submariner experience? (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41754407)

Modern submarines, especially the boomers aren't all that cramped. (Of course, I'm a former submariner so my perception may be... somewhat warped compared to the norm.)

But seriously, I've been saying the same thing for years. Submariners are used to close conditions. Used to paying 110% attention 24/7/365 to things like life support, propulsion, navigation, and communications. Used to limited and asynchronous communications. Used to missions lasting weeks or months... Etc... etc...

But turning the space program over to a bunch of work-a-day bubbleheads won't square well with the mythology of the steely eyed, square jawed fighter pilot. And the steely eyed, square jawed fighter pilots dominate the NASA astronaut corps.

Re:Submariner experience? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41754903)

I am not sure about that Derek. I suspect that the ppl that go to the moon and mars, esp. if they are one-way trips, will not be pilots, but more of the submariners like you. The fact is, that pilots are well suited for short trips. But long, tight trips, possibly for life? That is a whole other thing.

Windbourne (moderating).

Re:Submariner experience? (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41761417)

In fairness to the Mercury astronauts, they were working in a very different kind of environment with different mission requirements than what will be expected for the spaceflight missions of the future. When Alan Shepard was going into space, there were so many unknown factors about what would happen while in orbit that they didn't even plan on having the astronaut urinate while in flight. It was a perfect environment for test pilots, with relatively short missions and needing the skills of a pilot to be able to work with the situations they faced most of the time. Even the Apollo flights only lasted a little over a week at the most.

If people are going to be traveling away from the Earth, it will be missions of several months long using skills like you say are more appropriate to a submariner. Unfortunately for NASA, the test pilot mentality still is a part of their internal culture. Then again, the current NASA astronaut corps is in a state of transition where the old time shuttle astronauts are leaving with the remaining astronauts facing a very uncertain future.

"Deep Space 9" mission? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41752433)

I suppose sometime later this set will be featured in a movie similar to how the lunar mock-up set was featured in the "lunar" mission movie of an astronaut landing on the moon?

Hmm, I guess NASA is a bit late to the game on that one. Hollywood has already beaten them to it (multiple times) - cue the ST and SW jokes now.

Re:"Deep Space 9" mission? (4, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#41752569)

The unveiling of this "mock-up" is obviously NASA trying to cover their tracks after their secret plan to fake a deep space mission was discovered.

Re:"Deep Space 9" mission? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about 2 years ago | (#41759777)

The unveiling of this "mock-up" is obviously NASA trying to cover their tracks after their secret plan to fake a deep space mission was discovered.

That's okay, as long as there is a Quark's.

Alabama "Spaceship" (1, Troll)

bit trollent (824666) | about 2 years ago | (#41752455)

Is it any surprise that Alabama's interplanetary spaceship is just a shed in a field?

Just look at Alabama's most respected scientist [youtube.com] .

Re:Alabama "Spaceship" (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41754787)

It was the folks in Huntsville that designed and largely built the Saturn V and were heavily involved in the construction and maintenance of the Space Shuttle.

Yeah, they are a bunch of hillbilly hicks that don't know a thing about spaceflight.

For those long deep space trips (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#41752561)

Sexbots. All other priorities are rescinded.

Re:For those long deep space trips (1)

Loughla (2531696) | about 2 years ago | (#41753895)

Funny, but really if this technology follows most of what we have today, it will be either the sex or liquor industries who lead the way.

And that, folks, is one prospect that GREATLY excites me.

Re:For those long deep space trips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757943)

I don't see why this has to be an "OR" statement.

Mockup (2)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 2 years ago | (#41752635)

*runs around in circles with arms out*

"Ooooooh I'm soooo deep, ohhh the vast emptiness and hard radiation, a bloo bloo bloo look at me I'm the only hope for humanity's long-term survival, I'm soooo important!"

Cx011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41752747)

Is it running a 16 bits computer?

Candy-like buttons? (1)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#41752949)

My bet is still on the space madness.

Must be a Civilian Crew (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | about 2 years ago | (#41753071)

Note the absence of a golf course or driving range.

bad idea (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about 2 years ago | (#41753085)

Didn't anyone see Aliens, Aliens 2, Aliens 3, that other one that I am still not sure what it's about.. Deep space stations inevitably get taken over by aliens and then we gota send another group of people who also have to fight aliens and then only 1 will survive. Then all the scientists want to see what happened so they send more people and they all die. This is a really bad idea. Someone tell NASA

Deep Space 9 (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#41753173)

Does it have the pylons? They looked cool but I never understood their purpose.

Are they going to hire Colm Meany and Max Grodénchik as consultants

Re:Deep Space 9 (3, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41753435)

They're dilithium fusion struts. They're used to reverse the polarity of the tachyon inducer field. Seemed pretty obvious to me.

Re:Deep Space 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41756897)

They're dilithium fusion struts. They're used to reverse the polarity of the tachyon inducer field. Seemed pretty obvious to me.

Wouldn't that fuck up the reverse anti-proton beam causing a warp core breach?

Re:Deep Space 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41770859)

Nah, it's fine, remember that those induced tachyons run backwards through time, leaving the current protons unaffected.

Though there's a small chance that we may be constantly blowing up our past. Hard to say.

Re:Deep Space 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41773733)

*I* use them to clear my nostrils.

Re:Deep Space 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41753463)

But Deep Space Nine (Terak Nor) was built by the Cardassians, so we are gonna need some spoonheads, not some Whipped Starfleet engineer and some third rate Ferengi engineer....

What will they call it? (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | about 2 years ago | (#41753241)

If a few prototypes get mysteriously destroyed with possible sightings of black spider-like silhouettes that scream inside your mind, just keep going, should be ironed by about the fifth iteration or so.

I say (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41753469)

Give em' some exercise equipment, and tell em' to buck up and stop bein' a sissy.

why reinvent the wheel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41753487)

Stanley Kubrick already did this

few comments on this design (1)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | about 2 years ago | (#41754809)

They are using quite popular shielding from cosmic rays: water. Good. Food also works nicely as shielding. It's amazing for me, but still there is no better protection from cosmic rays than lots hydrogen. A 2 meter thick layer of water protects enough.

I'm disappointed that they do not use inflatables. Of course it's more challenging to design and built, but there is a lot more space to win. This design here looks a lot like skylab.

Where does the crew sleep (I really do not see a place for that on this picture)? How many people are supposed to spend time here together? This is not mentioned in this article, yet those are quite critical questions. At least it's said that they will be there for 500 days, albeit I suspect that's just a journalist's bet, based on mars500 experiment.

Re:few comments on this design (1)

BranMan (29917) | about 2 years ago | (#41757245)

I'm wondering if the water can do even more shielding - on Mythbusters they demonstrate that you can hide from gunfire under water - 3 to 4 feet of water and you are safe from everything up to a .50 cal sniper rifle bullet. Can 2 meters of water disrupt / absorb the energy of meteorites as well? As long as the water tanks can self-seal (military aircraft fuel tanks do) after punctures... I don't see why not.

Weightless issue issue (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41755139)

Issue 47d: Peter Griffin: "...but after awhile the inside looked like a snow globe."

Waste of money (1)

slashping (2674483) | about 2 years ago | (#41755193)

We don't have a craft that can carry humans anywhere interesting, land them, and let them survive for a suitable amount of time. Until we have all of that, there's no point in doing the easy stuff. Instead, send more robotic missions until you can land really heavy stuff on Mars with suitably low G forces, and high chance of survival. These "practice" missions can be used for all kinds of cool science projects. Then send robots to prepare a habitat. When that is all done, start thinking about sending humans.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758063)

I don't think that's a waste of money at all. Trying to make the actual deep space mission - now, that would be a waste of money.

This is just fine - in fact, it could be even self funded if they make it into a reality cable show.

Priority 1: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41756409)

Make sure that the on-board AI is configured such that it CANNOT kill the crew... no matter what oddball secret instructions the spooks from the three-letter-acronym agencies give it!

Not ambitious enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41756619)

This is another trailer like NASA design. When are they going to get ambitious and build a spinner. NASA used to have big ideas now it seems like it is afraid of failure to the point of paralysis.

I hope they went heavy on the shielding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41760823)

Our little buddy Mr. Sun is entering the peak solar cycle swing in 2013 and we should use the data we obtain form the x-flares to help construct a habitat that offers better protection than the current international space station. Crawling into a tiny shielded room and hoping this isn't the big one is not going to give future astronauts warm fuzzies once they're up there barebacking it.

Build the damn thing in LEO! (1)

Rexdude (747457) | about 2 years ago | (#41762415)

Why does everything have to be the size of a sardine can? The module shown is so cramped because of payload restrictions for the launch vehicles. Why can't they send up a handful of these into LEO and assemble the spacecraft there? Let it be designed to remain in space, there's no need for heat shielding or aerodynamics in that case and it can be made larger. It may take longer but you'll have fewer constraints. Bigelow already has inflatable modules in orbit..add a couple of those and you get much more room for the crew.
Cabin fever sets in for submariners anyway, imagine being in that situation with the additional knowledge of being millions of miles away from everything you've ever known.

Re:Build the damn thing in LEO! (2)

Robotbeat (461248) | about 2 years ago | (#41765269)

Why does everything have to be the size of a sardine can?

Because they aren't there for a luxury cruise, that's why.

The module shown is so cramped because of payload restrictions for the launch vehicles. Why can't they send up a handful of these into LEO and assemble the spacecraft there? ...

Ummm.... That is the plan. To assemble it at ISS, at least for the prototype. But you are forgetting that it takes a lot of propulsion to move these things around in space... your mission costs are hugely impacted by having a more massive deep space module. It's not the cost of putting it into LEO that is the expensive part. It's all the propellant and propulsive capability and RCS/power systems needed for a larger module. Or, if you have a smaller module with the same size propulsion system, that means you can go a lot more different places (instead of just a tiny near Earth asteroid 10m in diameter, you could explore a sizable 300m diameter one, perhaps, which aren't as common) and/or do the mission a whole lot faster. The idea is to see what the smallest feasible module is, since that means you can go do your mission faster and with less money. I say, the sooner the better!

Or, if you CAN afford one twice as large, why not instead use the extra money for a lander (or SEV) or to do two missions?

Here's a much more informative article: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/03/dsh-module-concepts-outlined-beo-exploration/ [nasaspaceflight.com]

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