Building Space Habitats

While we may use the Moon and Mars as stepping stones in our migration into space, the real end target will be the asteroid belt. Once we have spent the resources needed to accomplish the steep climb out of a planetary gravity well, it makes sense to stay there. The asteroid belt suits this purpose.

It doesn’t make sense either to live on the surface of an asteroid or to hollow one out and live inside it. Both of these ideas are inefficient and wasteful. The primary requirements for living habitats in space are to contain atmosphere and provide downward force through either gravity or force provided by rotation. The best way to meet these requirements is to build enclosed space in a rotating wheel. The most efficient way to provide maximum living space from construction materials consumed is to use the wheel shape with multiple floors.

The number of floors available will be defined by the size of the wheel and the speed of rotation imparted to it. For a comfortable and healthy long term living environment, the rotation needs to provide at least one third of natural Earth gravity and no more than a full measure of natural Earth gravity. The range of 0.33G to 1.0G in combination with the diameter of the wheel and speed of rotation will determine how many vertical floors can be built inside the wheel. The inner floors toward the center of the wheel will have less “gravity” and the outer floors will have more.

Space habitats will be built from construction materials mined from asteroids. The asteroids will be mined for their valuable metals, minerals and frozen gases. Once these are extracted, there will be a lot of less valuable metals, rocks and regolith (dust, soil and loose rock) left over. With a minimal amount of processing, this material will become the bulk of construction materials used in building habitats.

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