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Old November 23rd, 2018, 06:22 PM
nobby-w nobby-w is offline
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Default A NASA study about space habitats plus related docs

This is a study that I turned up with some google-fu on the topic of population and facilities on space habitats. It covers a lot of ground and makes for some interesting reading.

This is a discussion of the efficiency of various crops for life support and food production.

From a little google-fu, it would appear that a human needs about 400-600g of oxygen per day on average.

Some NASA bumf about space habitats

Another study about space habitats

Some discussions of life support using algae

A discussion of the thermal control systems on the ISS

A discussion of the power system on the ISS

Some observations
Once upon a time I had occasion to stay in an apartment complex in Jakarta called Kalibata city. This was a large complex with something of the order of 10,000 apartments. There were a lot of shops and other facilities on-site (including an underground shopping mall), giving it the feel of what living in an arcology might be like.

In this facility, studio apartments were typically about 18m2, two bedroom apartments were about 33m2 and three bedroom apartments about 43m2. The designs were fairly space efficient, but a bigger budget for folding fittings and using 3 dimensions more might reduce the floor space significantly. Note: all the apartments had a wet floor bathroom with a shower, toilet and basin, plus a little balcony. People often put a washing machine on the balcony.

With appropriate use of technology, one might surmise that a studio apartment might fit in a bit less space than that. Some folks in Hong Kong live in really small apartments, and my wife's stepfather has a house with 3 stories of about 2m x 3m floor area (he built it himself).

In traveller terms, one could surmise that a studio flat with high-tech folding fittings might fit in a space as small as 2-3 dtons (about the size of a stateroom) but would represent just a few percent of the total space taken up by a resident.

Executive summary:
About 1,750 m3 (125 dtons) of space per long-term permanent resident, including agriculture and recreational space. Recreational space is about 30% of the total. If you added starport facilities, power plants, cooling,1 fuel tankage and suchlike, the total would probably be more like 200dt/resident or more.
About 40-50 m2 of the most efficient hydroponics to meet oxygen requirements. Food requirements are considerably greater, somewhere about 150-200m2 per person depending on the crop mix.
230kg of algae culture per human for oxygen regeneration, estimated 2.2 m3 per human for the apparatus.
If the diameter is too small, coriolis force can be enough to cause nausea on spinning habitats. Conventional wisdom suggests something in excess of 1km to get the gradients and spin rates small enough for this not to be an issue.
A population of 100,000-200,000 is needed to support an economy. A population of 500,000 or more is needed to support a skill base sufficiently diverse for a long-term self-sustaining culture.
Radiator panels can dissipate about 400-500 watts per square metre using ammonia as a coolant.
The ISS has a crew of up to 7 and power consumption (including all science payloads) of 70-90kw. This suggests a power consumption of the order of 10kw per resident. A habitat with a full economy might need more than that depending on the industry present.
The ISS has approximately 2,500m2 of solar panels supplying a peak capacity of 120kW. This suggests about 50w per square metre.
For each resident, you would require something like 20m2 of radiators and 200m2 of photovoltaic arrays (assuming efficiency equivalent to that deployed on current spacecraft, which converts at around 38% efficiency)

This suggests that a self-sustaining (culturally and economically) space habitat would start in the region of 100-200 million dtons. For 500,000 residents it would require 10 million m2 (10km2) of radiators and 100km2 of photovoltaic arrays. Think big.

1 Cooling gets glossed over in Traveller, but it is a significant problem on a space station. Dissipating the heat from a large nuclear reactor is not a trivial undertaking in space. Also, power usage by artificial gravity systems gets glossed over, but they're gravitics right? Perhaps centrifugal gravity and large PV arrays might be popular for larger space habitats simply because the demands of dissipating heat from the power to supply artificial gravity systems could be too great.
My imaginary component makes me complex. This also means I'm allowed to eat quiche.

Last edited by nobby-w; November 25th, 2018 at 10:34 AM..
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