Fraser Cain and Professor Adam Frank discuss how asteroids can be spun quickly enough to be used as building materials for space homes. During this interview, they spoke about the concept, its viability, the technology required to realise it, the potential uses for it, and the anticipated release date.
It’s official: humans could soon be living in space habitats made out of asteroids! According to a new science paper, “Habitat Bennu: Design Concepts for Spinning Habitats Constructed From Rubble Pile Near-Earth Asteroids,” it may soon be possible to construct habitats out of smaller, rubble pile asteroids and spin them up to produce artificial gravity.
Asteroid Bases: getting real
So, how exactly do we go about building homes on asteroids? The authors of the paper suggest using higher-strength materials like carbon nanofiber to contain the asteroid mass and create a spinning cylinder of dispersed asteroid regolith. It’s even possible to use ambient solar power to aid in the spin-up process and material processing.
But not just any old asteroid will do. Large, solid-rock asteroids with a diameter of over 10km wouldn’t have the tensile strength to withstand the required rotation rates and would end up breaking apart. On the other hand, smaller asteroids, or “rubble piles,” could work as long as they’re contained in a moderate tensile strength container.
So why live on an asteroid instead of, say, Mars? For one, asteroids have the advantage of being on elliptical orbits that cut across the inner solar system, making them a convenient mode of transport. Plus, hollowed and spinning asteroids have the potential to provide radiation shielding and artificial gravity, which are essential for the long-term habitation of humans.
While the idea of living on an asteroid may seem like something out of a science fiction novel, it could soon become a reality. The research opens up the possibility of using a wider range of asteroids as habitat candidates and brings us one step closer to becoming a truly space-faring species.
Space communities on asteroids are a concept that has appeared both in science and science fiction. The idea is to utilize asteroids as platforms for human habitation and as a way to establish permanent settlements in outer space.
Asteroid habitats: not just scifi, anymore
There are several benefits to using asteroids for space communities. First, asteroids are relatively easy to access and can be found throughout the solar system. They are also rich in resources, including water, which can be mined and used to support human life. In addition, asteroids have a low gravity environment, which could be beneficial for human health and for conducting research.
In terms of how this might work in science, there are a few different approaches that have been proposed. One approach is to use asteroids as “stepping stones” for human exploration of the solar system. For example, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) was a proposed mission to send a spacecraft to an asteroid, collect a boulder from its surface, and then bring the boulder back to lunar orbit for study. This mission was intended to test the feasibility of using asteroids as a way to extend human presence in space.
Another approach is to utilize asteroids as platforms for space-based industries, such as mining and manufacturing. This could be done by sending robots to asteroids to extract valuable resources, which could then be used to support human settlements in space.
The concept of using asteroids for space communities has also appeared in science fiction. For example, in the book “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card, the main character, Ender Wiggin, is trained at a military academy located on an asteroid. In the movie “Armageddon,” a group of astronauts is sent to an asteroid on a mission to save Earth from a collision.
The use of asteroids for space communities is an exciting and potentially viable option for establishing permanent settlements in outer space. While there are still many technical challenges that need to be overcome, the use of asteroids could provide a way for humans to extend their presence in the solar system and potentially even beyond.