Introduction: Asteroids-Space Colonies (03:10)
Life on Earth is threatened by climate change and overpopulation; humans must overcome technological obstacles in order to survive elsewhere.
In 1957, Russia's Sputnik was launched; in 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space; in 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Russian Salyut 1, a manned space station, began orbiting Earth on April 19th 1971, followed by U.S. Sky Lab in 1973. The Mir space station was the first continuously inhabited craft, deorbited in 2001; in 1998, components of the International Space Station were launched to create the largest off-planet, man-made and inhabited object. (Credits)
Inspiration for Space Exploration (03:17)
The human impulse to discover is innate; threats to life on Earth are further motivators for colonization elsewhere. Humanity must anticipate asteroid strikes and industry linked disasters. Climate change and overpopulation threaten civilization and create scarcity of resources.
Space Materials (01:59)
Resources and energy in the solar system are plentiful; harnessing them would result in economic markets and aid in colonization.
Free Space Habitats (06:45)
Orbital colonies have advantages over surface based types, such as proximity to Earth for resource exchange, and use of its magnetic field protection from radiation; solar energy is always available, and zero gravity eases difficulties of industrial processes. Downsides include transportation costs of supplies, and human health deterioration resulting from micro-gravity.
Surface Colonies and Private Industry (04:58)
Space habitats secured to moons, asteroids and other planets are already in development; NASA's Journey to Mars mission is slated to send humans to the planet in 2030. Private and international public industries are collaborating to create livable environments and safe space travel while circumventing the bureaucracy of government. The European Space Agency is planning the Moon Village, an open concept and springboard for other solar system communities.
Technological Challenges: Resources and Energy (03:26)
Space colonies will require access to water, food, energy, and other materials. Solar energy is abundant, but on the Moon and Mars, it is discontinuous; nuclear power may be the best option for surface habitats.
Technological Challenges: Transportation and Communications (04:30)
Atmospheric gravity, combined with heavy loads, prevent frequent launchings of current space crafts; hypersonic space planes and space elevators are being considered. Orbital colonies would require imported resources; asteroids could be converted to refueling stations and subvert the high costs of moving Earthly materials. Transport within colonies will be made possible by rovers and spacesuits. Transmissions from nearby facilities reach Earth quickly, but long delays and dead zones occur from longer distances.
Life Support and Radiation Protection (03:25)
Air, water, food and gravity systems must be supplied and wastes recycled; submarines offer the best example of available sustainment technology. Solar and galactic radiation is detrimental to humans and electronics; Earth's magnetic field provides protection for nearby facilities, but safe rooms and strategic placement will be required for habitats outside its range.
Technological Challenges: Human Health (03:42)
The journey to Mars takes six to nine months, and will expose astronauts to zero gravity and radiation; claustrophobia, depression and other psychological issues occur on prolonged missions requiring extreme precision. Muscle atrophy and skeletal degradation begins almost immediately in space; headaches, backaches and poor sleep are the most commonly reported disorders.
Asteroid Mining (11:23)
Minerals and raw materials present on asteroids are abundant and cost effective to transport in space; resources worth trillions are available in one body. Converting the rocks into refueling stations would dramatically reduce travel costs. Water, which can be converted to rocket fuel, is found on carbonaceous chondrites; lack of gravity and atmosphere pose harvesting challenges that private companies such as TransAstra and Deep Space Industries are working to overcome.
Credits: Asteroids-Space Colonies (01:28)
Credits: Asteroids-Space Colonies
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