The recently held Space 2006 Conference in San Jose, California was a bit about selling a life (living?) in space. But the problem with living in space is gravity.. if not for anything, it is going to be a big problem keeping your food down.
It is likely that the Moon (one sixth earth’s gravity) and Mars (three eighths) are unlikely space real estate destinations.
For Al Globus, senior research associate for human factors research and technology at NASA Ames Research Center, the most salient issue is one that most people take for granted on Earth: gravity. In low gravity, muscles atrophy and bones loose calcium and become brittle. If people start having children in an off-Earth settlement, those children — being adapted to the moon’s one-sixth gravity or Mars’ three-eighths gravity — may not be able to function on Earth, Globus argues.
“If you are a genius, you can never go to Harvard or Princeton,” Globus says. “If you are a great violinist, you will never be able to play the concert halls of Earth.”
Bad news huh? A bunch of brittle people. Yet in science fiction many portray martians as fearsome creatures. Chopsticks I say!
That’s a deal breaker, in Globus’ opinion. The space researcher instead argues that rotating space stations that can produce near-Earth gravity would be the best bet for long-term human inhabitants. These stations could produce more energy because certain orbits could bring them more sunshine than is possible if they were land-based. And the stations would be hours away, rather than three days for the moon or, at best, six months for Mars. The proximity to Earth makes tourism a possibility and makes resupplying the stations a snap.
So what about a space station? Sounds like a cool idea. But I will not be booking my space trip anytime soon.
But why would people want to stay in space in the first place?