Mankind's Next Utopia
2001 NASA-Ames Space Settlement Design Contest Grand Prize Winner
developed and proposed by
Meg O’ Connelland Nikhil Thaker
10th Grade Students at Eastern Regional High School, Voorhees, NJ
Advisor - Fred Jacques, Berlin Community School, Berlin, NJ
Table of Contents
Section I: The Designs (thumbnails)
" Don’t tell me that man doesn’t belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to go—and he’ll do plenty well when he gets there. "
Wernher von Braun(1912–77), German-born U.S. rocket engineer. Time (New York, 17 Feb. 1958) of space flights.
Two years ago I left my computer technology class to work on a project in the technology education class next door. It seemed logical that I get involved in something else, I was quite a bit ahead of my computer class and it was boring. Besides, the concept of designing a space settlement intrigued me. It was a challenge I had never faced before. Two weeks before the contest deadline I was tossed into a group of two. A few days later another girl from my computer class joined our motley group. After two weeks of marathon research and coffee can schematics on my part, we sent the project in for adjudication.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the night I found out we won…Joe, one of my teammates, called at about eleven o’clock at night. For about fifteen minutes we went back and forth and even after he hung up, I didn’t believe him. The next day I walked into the tech class and, lo and behold, Joe had been telling the truth. I was ecstatic…and felt like an idiot at the same time.
A year later it came down to two weeks before the deadline when I suddenly remembered that even though I was a freshman in high school I could enter the contest. I tried to throw something together and even requisitioned a few teammates, but it was to no avail- the contest had fallen directly in the middle of our first AP English paper. By the time the deadline rolled around we had two sentences. Needless to say, we didn’t enter the 2000 competition.
My teammates were still hooked on the concept though, particularly my friend Nikhil. Of the original Future Quest Aerospace Design firm, only he and I remain. The others had to drop out because of scholastic taxing. Nikhil and I almost dropped the project as well because of our classes. After all, when one is taking all advanced level courses, one must make some sacrifices. Still, we kept with the project in the seconds we managed to steal from our easier teachers.
Our advisor, Mr. Jacques, my former technology teacher from grade school stuck with us through it. At times it was only his e-mails and the weekly meetings that kept me on track. We had a lot of set backs…illness, my trip to Canada for the Mars Society Conference, my father’s death, advanced honors chemistry…
Enclosed is the result of a year’s worth of combined effort, and two years worth of thought on my part. The short fiction at the end is essentially what happened in all our delusions of grandeur. Names were changed to protect the sanity of the author.
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Time Systems & Climate Factors
One of the most significant elements on all future space stations will be time systems and climate factors. For instance, there will be a major need for simulated time. Through meticulous studies, it is quite evident that humans contain unique biological clocks, and this dictates the way that human bodies function. For that reason time- periods of daylight, seasons, and years roughly akin to those found on Earth- must be simulated. This can be done by modulating light frequency, wavelength, amplitude, etc. to reflect conditions found on Earth. It is a necessity to make sure that all of the habitual factors are the same as the ones on earth, because that is the only way that humans will feel "at home" on a foreign space station
Then, important questions are asked. What system of time will we follow? Such time systems that could be followed may be American Eastern Standard, Russian Siberian, and perhaps even Greenwich Mean Time. Since the Avalon Space station is not for a single country, but is for the entire human race as it is known, a global time system must be developed that will be utilized throughout the station. For instance, light modulations and certain wave frequencies will follow the Greenwich mean pattern. Likewise seasonal heat fluctuations will be based on a basic four-season temperature pattern. Such is optimal for human development and lifestyle, and will minimize stress on the body. Humans need the basic light frequencies and amounts of heat to live, for the thousands of centuries on Earth have molded our race into specific elemental conditions. Without optimal conditions, humans will find life on the space station as uncomfortable. However, we must strive for superlative conditions.
It is quite apparent that simulating time and temperature changes is an important facet to the overall living condition of the space station. In addition, we must simulate seasonal climactic changes as well. However, to what extent can this be accomplished? There will be a need for some minor deviations from perfect sunny weather because life simply isn’t that way. Stormy, cloudy, and snowy weather must also be simulated, because that is the way that life truly is on Earth. Some critics and scientists as well may see this as frivolous and a waste of valuable resources, but we are transporting life from a situation of uncontrolled stability to one of controlled stability, a task that has never been attempted before with humans. The long-term effect of this lack of change is unknown and, while they may be negligible is not something that can be overlooked in a permanent settlement. When attempting to, as was stated above, control a randomized climate, (as that of this world), humans endeavor the role of god, which is in itself a lost cause. Perhaps controlling nature and creating weather is improbable, but it must be done in order to make the environment of the station as comfortable as possible for the inhabitants.
But why is it really so important? Humans and other organisms, as it seems, get along without the presence of rain, snow, and other inclement weather. This fact may be true, but an innate attribute of humans must be taken into account.
Psychological issues exist in the minds of all humans. Humans, as an entire species, are quite reluctant when it comes to change, especially change that occurs after a long period of time. They will, for the most part, become accustomed to the simulated weather, even though they would understand that the weather is not natural. However, the idea that weather exists plays a psychological role on the inhabitants, and it makes the station feel more like home.
Growing seasons and conditions must be taken into account. For instance, leap years must still come and go as they always have. Furthermore, there must be a gradual transition between seasons. Temperatures must change regularly between, perhaps, winter and spring, and summer and fall. All of these are pivotal elements that make up life that we live everyday; these elements must also be the same in the space station.
Even though the space station is such a leviathan like ship, we must take into account room for equipment of all sorts. For instance, where will these large weather producing machines be placed?
Space has been allocated for climate control, atmospheric affairs, and water processing. These three systems will work together to produce the desired "psuedo-weather" that has been spoken about. Ordinarily, crop watering would be required- this is covered by rain. Likewise, atmospheric cleansing/ scrubbing would be required- this will be covered by the various processes (wind, rain, air currents) that account for this naturally on Earth.
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Why go and build a city in Space?
" Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole. "
William Burroughs (b. 1914), U.S. author. The Adding Machine, "Civilian Defense" (1985).
The human impetus has always been to explore that of the unknown. First, humans explored the land, water, and then the moon. The final frontier is the limits of space. Unequivocally, humans will continue to explore space and push onward towards settling its dark depths. The human race has reached a point in its history when all other frontiers have been conquered and the only remaining chance is to grow and change, and this growth must occur in space. Another reason to explore the bounds of space is to outlet populations. Earth’s population has grown exponentially, and in the years to come it will continue to increase.
Going to space is not a new concept. Since the early 1960’s, men and women (and dogs, rats, chimps, microbes, plants) have ventured into space, waving their nations’ flags. Space journeys have been a privilege for only a select few. The average blue-collar worker has next to no chance of getting into space. Soon, however, this could change. Whole cities will exist in space for real people- the ones that have watched from a distance for so long. The average laborers will have a greater chance to get into space because the cost will lower (see financial section).
In no way do I mean to say that at the snap of the fingers Dick and Jane will be living next to John Q. Public, Monty Hamilton, and Ramona Fish Sandwich in outer space. A good deal of preparation and testing will have to be performed before actual inhabitation by settlers is possible. Astronauts and Cosmonauts will have to run preliminary tests et cetera to assure safety. These astronauts will undoubtedly live in the preliminary stations for months, testing out each individual facet of the station. There must be complete assurance that life can exist on these stations.
"But what does the human race stand to gain from New York being shot into space," you may ask. First of all, this is not just a New York City or Lost Angeles in space. Avalon is not really analogous to any existing terrain cities. There are no sky-scrapers, no taxi cabs, and the people from all over the world. So it’s New York with out the big buildings and cabs? No. Perhaps the best analogy would be the ancient Greek city-states. Each city was capable of operating in autonomy from the others, but still had relations with them.
As for what we stand to gain from this project—everything. As with any first time adventure, it’s all learning. There have never been any long-term (more than a year) extra-earth excursions. Advances in science, education, and the humanities can be expected. Scientists will take immense amounts of measurement, studying the physics of space and the moon in more in depth scrutiny. We will be able to discover new secrets of the universe, and new interests of space will develop. Children will be able to explore space without limit, because scientists will find answers to questions that were once thought unanswerable. For instance, we will be able to study nearing comets, the moon, and perhaps even Mars and the asteroid belt. Information about the universe will become unleashed.
A long-term space settlement presents a challenge. New technologies must be explored and trails blazed. If our society does not undertake this new challenge soon, our technology will stagnate, a risk more frightening than any of the risks intrinsic building and living in a space colony. Technology must increase for this project to become a success. Looking back at history, humans have always increased the caliber of technology as the decades passed. However, the only real time that humans failed was the Middle Ages, when little intellectual thinking happened. However, with the technology that will be introduced to our species, they will make Avalon a reality will be well worth it.
However, there are risks in everything we do. When you get in the car to go somewhere, you run the risk of getting in an accident. When you open your e-mail you run the risk of getting a virus. Most analogous to this situation though, is a baby taking its first steps. That baby runs the risk of falling and getting hurt. Yes, that baby could even die if it hit its head. But we still encourage children to embark on that first journey of discovery. Everything we do during the day (or night) includes risk up to a certain degree. Even when we go through our everyday schedule on Earth, we subliminally make the correct decisions, avoiding taking any risks. For instance, as we play football in a field, we make sure that there is nothing on the field that will injure you. However, as you run with the football, you are taking the risk that you may stumble upon the ground and break a bone. Even more, risks are taken in every thing we do. Driving up a steep road faces us with dangers. If the break fails, we may come crashing over the cliff, and possibly dying.
The same is true of being in space. It can be done, we know this from Apollo, Mir, Skylab, and the shuttle missions. We’ve crawled long enough, and now it is time to walk. Risks may involve astronauts going out into space, risking their lives for the space station. But we must take this next step.
" No matter how vast, how total, the failure of man here on earth, the work of man will be resumed elsewhere. War leaders talk of resuming operations on this front and that, but man’s front embraces the whole universe. "
Henry Miller(1891–1980), U.S. author. Sunday after the War, "Reunion in Brooklyn" (1944).
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Mathematical Quick Reference Sheet
Major Radius (R): 322 m
Minor Radius (r): 181 m
Gravity (g): 0.98
Air Pressure (atm): 0.5
Energy/Person (kw): 1.3
Area/Person (m2): 73.55356252160001
Surface Area (m2): 2,288,548.8288000003
Volume (m3): 2.0801866900640002x 102
Shielding (Mt): 10.573324612479999
Water daily (t): 200
Food daily (t): 31
Oxygen mass (kt): 50.9645739065680006
Nitrogen Mass (kt): 76.44686085785202
Structural Mass (kt): 163.18686674480002
Solar Panel Area (m2): 238999.9
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Regenerative Life Support- Colony-Wide Approximates
Mathematical Quick Reference Sheet
Inputs (kg per day)
Dry Food: 6200
Water in food: 1500
Food Preparation water: 7900
Drinking water: 16100
Oral Hygiene water: 3600
Hand and face wash water: 18100
Shower water: 54400
Clothes wash water: 124700
Dish wash water: 54400
Toilet flush water: 4900
Outputs (kg per day)
Water from respiration and perspiration: 22100
Urine solids: 595
Hygiene water: 63150
Evap Hygiene water: 4400
Clothes wash water: 121850
Evap. Clothes wash water: 6000
Evap. Food prep water: 400
Dish wash water: 54050
Evap. Dish wash water: 300
Feces solids: 276.25
Feces water: 915
Sweat solids: 175
Toilet flush water: 4920
Element or Compound
Note: We must take an Ancient Roman approach to the design of our settlement. It will be created with a specific population in mind, and will have limited expansion. At this time, Avalon can support up to a maximum of 14,710 people, however our target population is slightly less, 10,000. An ideal starting population would be between 8000 and 9500. This station will be located at Lagrange point 5, also known as L5. We will be building the entire Avalon station in space. Materials, such as metals and other tools, will be transported into space and the construction will take place just outside of Earth’s atmosphere and orbit.
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Avalon: Mankind’s next Utopia
" No matter how vast, how total, the failure of man here on earth, the work of man will be resumed elsewhere. War leaders talk of resuming operations on this front and that, but man’s front embraces the whole universe. "
Henry Miller(1891–1980), U.S. author. Sunday after the War, "Reunion in Brooklyn" (1944).
As a race, we have conquered almost every frontier set before us. The earth’s oceans, jungles, and hidden treasures have, for the most part, been explored and exploited. Unfortunately, the boom of progress in the past few generations has presented the human race with an important challenge. We face problems with over population, pollution, deforestation, and dwindling natural resources, each a threat in its own right, but potentially catastrophic when compounded with the others. The Earth’s population will become so great that eventually, we will have no room to move. Everywhere we turn there will be another human being; there will be nearly no free room to move anywhere. Earth’s population is, currently, nearly six billion (plus or minus) people. China already has a populace that exceeds that of the health rate of any other nation in the world. Birth control is becoming a must in this country, because the government is controlling the population. Another such country is India. India is bereft of riches, and it is only a barren land home to a vast populace. Everywhere, even through the streets, people lie everywhere.
There is a solution to the populace problem. An infinite amount of space exists outside the earth that can be exploited to the benefit of all mankind. Sojourns to the moon, Mars, the Jovian satellites, and other intra-solar bodies have revealed countless streams of data about our "block" in the galactic "neighborhood".
But what good is saying that asteroids can be mined for iron if you do not act on it? Of what use is all our knowledge and technology if we do not use it?
Terrain/Space Developments Inc. proposes that we wait no longer. Using existing technologies, it is possible to construct a permanent, self sustained, orbital space settlement. The pages following will detail our plans for the Avalon space missions.
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Section I: The Designs
Scores of variables, spanning every area of science and technology, are needed for this space station. There are no questions, building a space settlement this large will involve incredible amounts of time and money, but the important thing is, it CAN be done.
Just how big is BIG is this space station?
Ten thousand people need a lot of space to live. So do the businesses they work at and patronize every day. When we look at our life on Earth, we think that ten thousand people is nearly nothing. However, to build an entire space station that will host these ten thousand people is a greater task to undertake. The designs for Avalon call for a major radius of 322 meters and a minor radius of 181 meters. This gives a surface area of 2.3x106 m2 and a volume of 2.08 x 1016m3. About 1/5 of this is habitable with 0.98 G. The structural (approx.) mass will be 1.632x102kt.
See diagram II for more.
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What about Growth?
On Earth, when cities get too small, we build on them. In space, however, it is impractical and extremely difficult to just add on. Completely new building must take place because adding onto space stations (where we would be building upon space and not land like we do on Earth) is quite difficult. If we wanted to build an addendum to the space station, millions of millions of dollars would have to be allocated, because special building is simply quite costly. We would need to be able to transport all sorts of metals and tools to the station, and from there, we would need astronauts to go out into space and build. Since this would deplete our funds, it is almost an impossibility. However, we have been provident, and some space has been earmarked for expansion. However there is not enough for this to be taken for granted, and this space MUST be used wisely.
To cope with this problem, a certain Ancient Roman technique is suggested. The Romans build their cities for a given number of people and no more. Instead of starting with 10,000 people, we can start with a smaller population of 8 to 9 thousand. This will make initial adjustments, calibrations, and tests easier, as well as allow for generations of growth. After we have made correct calculations, decisions concerning the population problem may be attacked. As the population reaches the mark of nine or ten thousand, building will take place, and we will eventually reach equilibrium in the population.
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The Donut Shape
The shape of the space station is a donut shape, called a Torus. The Torus spins around an axis of rotation to create a feeling of pseudo-gravity. Avalon’s designs call for a rotation speed of 1.665 (rounded) rotations per minute. The major radius is 322 meters. Pseudo-gravity must be created, because the inhabitants must feel a sense of gravity in order to become comfortable there.
Now, domed shapes hold and distribute heat far better than squared off shapes. A toroidal (Torus shape) station minimizes the amount of wasted space while optimizing usable space and hab zone. A sphere, for instance, will require a lot of energy and have a smaller hab zone than a Torus. When in space, we must strive to minimize the amount of space used in the station, because the cost of building everything is quite great. Therefore, it is clear that with a Torus shaped station is the most suitable
Avalon’s habitat zone is about 1/5 of the total volume. Another 1/5 is allotted for pseudo-weather systems, atmospheric monitoring/scrubbing, and electrical systems, all of which will function well in a low- G environment.
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Any time you take humans (or any other animal, for that matter) from their natural habitat, you must account for psychological effects as well as physiological. For instance, you do not stick a rhesus monkey in a polar desert habitat. Likewise you cannot take a human and place them in a zero gravity, light-less habitat. Some sort of climate must be simulated and minor fluctuations must be included in the equations.
In order to explain this idea of psychological referencing and effects, let us take the example of a plant. Plants naturally bend towards sun light and warmth, because that is how they gain nutrients. Also, plants need water, for with out this, nearly no biological processes may occur. Even so, giving a plant plenty of sun light and water are ideal conditions that plants want. However, what happens when someone does not give enough water, or sun light? Let us say that we put this same plant in a closest. Even if the give the plant water, sun light is not present and the plant will grow little, or even not at all. This effect can be called a psychological effect, because this is how the plant dictates its life.
The same may be applied for humans. Humans need food, water and sunlight to live. Changing the temperature slightly, or the amount of food, will cause mere discomfort, but will not kill the being. However, without food, the human may completely die, even if given the right amounts of sunlight.
Therefore, rainfall simulations will allow easy distribution of water to crops and cleansing of the atmosphere. Dirt and dust particles will stick to the water droplets, making work easier for the air scrubbers, extending their lives. The atmosphere will "move" all around and an effect of weather will become evident to the inhabitants.
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Getting Power to the Station
The main solar array is located in the center of the facility, the "hole of the donut". It is a hexagon with a total area of 101431.2679 m2. This is not enough, however, as the settlement requires 128999.9 m2 of solar panel area to provide the allotted 1.5 kilowatts per person. Therefore, it is necessary to put solar cells on the inner hull (see diagrams III & IV). This will account for the remaining 27568.6231 m2.
The exterior solar cells (ECSs) are raised at a 60° angle so that light not absorbed will be reflected onto the interior solar cells (ISCs). This "residual energy" will be absorbed, maximizing energy intake and production while minimizing the use of exterior hull space.
Energy collected from the solar array will be stored in power storage facilities throughout the settlement- basically large batteries. In times of emergency, this will be the only source of power. Even though at first glance, the amounts of energy going into these batteries seem nominal, energy received from the sun is quite powerful. This energy alone with allow the space station to operate fully and functionally.
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The Neighborhood Setup
Many plans call for divisions in business, education, et cetera. Avalon is, quite literally, a floating city. Municipal facilities, research facilities, homes, businesses, parks, and schools are together. Roads network locations together. Much like on earth, people will be able to go from place to place freely and without hassle.
Community buildings, as in the ones mentioned above, will exist in all of the neighborhoods. People will still be able to attend churches and masses, and not to say, football games. Neighborhoods will be much like the ones that we have today. There will be suburbs and, as mentioned, buildings. For instance, there will be schools, ranging from elementary school to college for all students.
Once again, our reasons come from a psychological consideration. People cannot be expected to work well in an environment that separates and classifies things. Life, sadly, is not a heterogeneous mixture. People must be together, especially in the neighborhood setups that have existed since the Ancient Roman period. People need to feel as though they are all equal to others, and living in communities engenders this idea deeply.
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And how are these people getting around?
There will definitely not be any fossil fuels on this space station. The reason for this comes from our own, perhaps mundane, problem.
Fossil fuels on Earth have polluted our environment. The ozone layer is depleting, and we simply overuse everything. Throughout the last century, the car was one of the most important inventions. At first, large cars were built. These cars in turned spat out terrible mileage for the gallon because of their excessive size. Nevertheless, we kept utilizing fossil fuels. Cars soon became smaller, more economical. We started receiving better mileage for the gallon, and they were even at a point declared environmentally safer than before. However, humans kept depleting the Earth of fossil fuels. Then, as the art of making cars increased in popularity, SUV’s were introduced to the Earth. These large, monster like cars outputted terrible mileage for the gallon. However, this time no one cared. People still, even to this day, use these cars and the fossil fuel problem will one day kill our very species.
Therefore, we must turn to a different source of energy for use on the space station. Electric personal and public transportation is a viable solution to the problem of transportation. People on the space station could use cars electrically powered, instead of gasoline powered. More people would be able to use these cars without destroying the unstable condition that the space station will be in. Public transportation can be accessed in the same way. For instance, large trains or busses will be able to take large amounts of people.
With an increase of public transportation, there will be less traffic on the streets of Avalon, and the economy will be overall safer.
However, the use of electricity will create a strain on the electricity supply. The station will somehow have to gain extra amounts of energy, which is nearly an impossibility. It is quite difficult to transport energy through space to the station. So what is there to do?
Personal transportation will come in the form of bicycles and small electric golf carts. Public transportation will be made like that found in Toronto, Canada, where electric street-cars take the place of taxis, busses, and subways. This will clear up many of the problems that even we have in our society today, and on the space station Avalon.
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When dealing with an orbital colony of this size, the only viable construction method is extra-terrain-orbital construction. This will be an international endeavor with such players as the United States, Canada, Japan, and Russia.
Canada will contribute robotic construction equipment. The Canadians are known for their experience in robotics. They are responsible for the arms on the American shuttles, as well as some of the equipment used in the building of the International Space Station.
Launch costs will be exorbitant, no matter what method is used. Russia is currently offering once nuclear missiles as rockets to carry payloads into low earth orbit (LEO). As these can run thousands of dollars cheaper than a launch from the United States and money is always a large issue, Russian cooperation will be imperative.
This will undoubtedly be expensive. To imagine that all will be paid in cash, in full, is foolhardy and nonsensical. Cooperation must be bought by favors. For instance, Canada could use this project to advance their foundling space program. Russia will rid themselves of nuclear missiles and regain a foothold in space. China can get its name on a major international project, as well as the use of Avalon for their solar system exploration projects. Private businesses will get patents, technology rights, and exposure in return for their goods and services. Monies can also be obtained from colonists and such institutions as Hollywood and Broadway. Disney on Ice in space? Sure. Aliens XXII in situ? No prob, Bob. Resources will not be a problem.
By now I’m sure you’re asking, "So what is costing so much?" Safety precautions as well as fundamental necessities involved in living in space are not cheap. The hull of Avalon is best constructed of titanium, as the shuttle as most other spacecraft are. This metal is light and durable, as well as quite available. As anyone who as ever bought titanium glasses can tell you, though, it is rather expensive. Approximately 2.30 x 10 6 m2 of titanium will be needed for the outer skin alone. This is, most likely, less than what will actually be used.
Shielding, thankfully, is an easier hurdle to jump. Not much easier, but easier all the same. Lunar regolith has been proven an excellent guard against radiation. IT is light, making transport easy. The missions to the moon will be expensive, but not without meaning. While the regolith insulation is being collected, a small mining base can be established on the moon so that once Avalon is operational, it can immediately begin element mining.
The computer components for Avalon, from all the important life support systems to the communication ware to the colonists’ personal microcomputers will be produced in the United States by companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard (to name a few). These names are often associated with quality, and more often, cost. Why not go with cheaper, nondomestic systems from Japan and China? For one thing, the American based technology firms are known to be more advanced and second, they are more user friendly.
Avalon’s solar array presents a particular problem in that to power the station with an average of 1.5 kw per person, approximately 1.289 x 105 m2 of solar sell surface area is needed. Ordinarily one would expect to find the array in the center of a toroidal colony and that is where the bulk of our array is located, as noted in diagram III. Unfortunately, this only accounts for 1.01x 105 m2. To solve this problem we propose raising the central external solar cells or ESCs thirty five degrees so that what incoming energy is not absorbed is reflected to internal solar cells, or ISCs lining the inside of the toroidal curve. This will maximize energy absorption and even allow fro extra energy to be stored in backup power cells. All in all, 2.75 x 104 m2 will be needed for the ISCs.
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Government and Economy
Many would expect that, as an American design firm, we at Future Quest Aerospace Inc. would recommend a democratic, capitalist PoliEcon system as found in the United States. In the situation under consideration, however, such a political and economical system is impractical and illogical. Instead, we suggest a limited democracy with a socialist economy.
First of all, what do we mean by a limited democracy? It will be much like the early United States where leaders were chosen by a small group of citizens, the Electoral College. A hand full on leaders, one president-like figure, a secretary of economy, secretary of science, secretary of technology, and secretary of education will be elected every six years by the Electoral College.
As can be imagined, trying to manage a large scale Federal Government with a population base of ten thousand would be impossible. The number is simply too small. Even with large populations, the system can fall apart as was demonstrated this past November with the race for President of the United States.
Socialism is a vaguer term. Many equate it with communism and, in some cases, "evil". These are farther from the truth than the claims of those who say they were abducted by flying Elvises in pink tutus. Socialism is an economic system in which the government controls the means of production while citizens retain their basic rights. With a small population base, socialism is a far more practical approach to economy than capitalism.
The wheels of capitalist business require millions to turn and, even then, things fall apart as demonstrated by the American Depression of 1929 and, more recently, the economic recessions of the late 20th century. In a closed, microcosmic system like a space settlement, control is needed.
These decisions will not please everyone, but the goal is to compromise to benefit the greater good, not to cater to a single nationality. This may sound idealistic, but the simple fact of the matter is, Avalon is meant to further the human race as a whole and to do that, socio-economic and political barriers must fall.
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Most parents will agree, when moving to a new place, education is a prime concern. In Avalon, all levels of education will be covered from elementary school to graduate school. These will be free to all citizens of Avalon and available to any who wish to attend- for a small tuition fee, of course.
How can we make education free? As the government controls the economy, money normally spent on running businesses and paying competitive prices will go toward education. It will be free only to the tax paying citizens of Avalon and their dependants, but non-residents can enroll in colleges and universities for a price to be determined at a later date.
Overall, the education problem is quite difficult to attack, and it is the most important. People who wish to live in the space station will undoubtedly be concerned with the prices for education. The government shall primarily pay for tuition, and this in turn will lower the cost for education throughout the station. Children, and even adults, of all ages will have as much of a chance to learn as the people of Earth.
Even in today’s society, education is a major issue. Sundry political parties are formed for the question of education. Why is education such an important idea? Throughout history, the role of man in the society has changed greatly. In the beginning, we were mere barbarians, Neanderthals, fighting and killed the beasts that we needed to eat. Life was quite simple in a time back then.
However, evolution was the key of human life as we know it, and intellect became a crucial need in society. For instance, a look at the Renaissance and Middle Ages will completely explicate this situation. Through the Middle Ages, there was little, next to none, improvement in the society. There was a stagnation of thought and action, for the Church dictated everyday life. However, as the Renaissance, or the rebirth, occurred, a blast of knowledge was unleashed in the world. No longer did the rich or religious lead the economy, but it was the poets, artists, and intellects that assumed this position. From that point onwards, intellect has been the focal point of our towns and cities. Education is at a high, because people of all levels of society want their children and family to have a chance to succeed – and this chance is with knowledge and intellect. Therefore, it is evidently essential that Avalon have a large education network, where education and all sorts of information will be exposed to children and adults.
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In a small, isolated environment such as Avalon, the typical busses, cars, and trains will be impractical. The pollution they cause would suffocate the colonists within a week and the power needs would overwhelm the station’s capabilities. Smog and pollution would unmistakably be presented as a new problem to the station for two reasons. First of all, the pollution created by the "fossil fuel" powered engines would have no where to escape, because the station is a closed environment. Unlike the space station, Earth has a vast atmosphere, where excess pollution and smog can diffuse, therefore not congesting the lands that we live on. However, the space station is a man-made structure that has limited space, and the pollution would undoubtedly "suffocate" the inhabitants. Another problem with fossil fuel engines is the fossil fuel itself. It would be quite difficult to transport fossil fuels from Earth to the space station.
As a solution to this transportation problem, we propose, "golf carts", run with Ford’s new hydrogen engine or a similar system. This engine is quite economical, and it will not pollute like the fossil fuel engines. Even more, the engine can be used for both personal and public transportations, making them a valuable asset to the neighborhoods and economies on the space station. The only byproduct (other than heat that is created by the engine) will be water—drinking water. For added efficiency, condensers can be attached to the exhaust pipe to collect the water vapor so that, at the end of the day the water may be used for practical living purposes.
In turn, this water can be used to drink from by people, and it can be used to do any other jobs. For instance, washing dishing and perhaps even cars could be two of these uses.
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Recreation and Public Works
Everyone needs to have fun. To misquote an old saying, "All work and no play make humans a dull race." Neighborhoods on Earth are scattered with numerous parks, movie theaters, and the ilk. It is known that Friday and Saturday nights are large social gathering times. As is definitely a way of life, all people want to have some sort of excitement in their lives. Therefore, we propose that parks, movie theaters, museums, concert halls, arcades, and stores are only a few of the recreational facilities allowed for in the design plans for Avalon. With these recreational activities, life will go on as usual, much like the life that we have here on Earth. As has already been stated, humans don’t life change, and this is quite understandable. We want everyday life on the station to be much like the life on Earth, and we want the inhabitants of the station to be as comfortable as possible.
As far as public works are concerned, Avalon’s sewage treatment facilities, electric, and water systems will be as good, more likely better than those found on earth. The systems will be concentrated beneath the "ground" and above the "sky", in between the shielding and the inner roof and the floor of the Torus. The space station needs to salvage all of the room that it can, because with ten thousand people living on the station, there is not much more room left. Therefore, we propose to keep these treatment plants "above and below" so that we will be able to maximize the amount of space on the station. Also, it is quite uncomforting to actually see these treatment plants. For instance, even on Earth we tend to frown upon sewage plants of treatment centers that pass our eye.
Therefore, it is perhaps wanted by the people that these treatment plants and facilities be built away from the eye of the people. For more, see time/weather and purification systems.
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"An Avalon Fiction Story"
February 14, 2009
The office was small and simple, a single room with just enough room for a desk, three chairs, and a floor lamp. Black words were painted on the glass window of the only door to the office reading "Future Quest Aerospace Technologies". A silhouette appeared before the glass and the doorknob jiggled as the door was pushed open.
"Bills, bills, credit card, bills, hate mail..." A young woman of average height with long dark hair entered and kicked the door shut behind her as she muttered to herself. The envelopes identified as bills were tossed into a wastebasket near the door, the credit card was tossed on the desk, and the hate mail was opened. The woman laughed as she flopped down in the threadbare office chair behind the desk.
"Where do these people come from," she muttered, flicking on the computer. "For some reason they think searching for extraterrestrial intelligence is evil." Marion Glen was currently employed by SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and was working part time for a company she’d founded to make a little extra money. So far all the design company had brought her was more and more bills.
The freshly out of grad school astrophysicist/engineer picked up her phone and dialed absently. Tuesday was the day of the week she usually called her partner Hari in Massachusetts. He’d taken a teaching position right out of college, a choice Marion quite often scoffed at. She refused to be a teacher, even if it meant breadlines and unemployment checks.
Even during grade school she had loathed and despised teaching classes in her school’s version of gifted and talented.
"Professor Seldon, please," she told the directory operator when the phone was finally answered. A few minutes later Hari’s familiar voice answered on the other end.
"Hey Hari. You busy?"
"Not at the moment. Why?" Marion noted a door being shut in the background.
"I just got a fax from NASA. Our proposal is being considered." There was silence on the other end of the line for quite some time and Marion had the distinct impression Hari was fighting the urge to whoop for joy...or ask when she’d last had an appointment with her psychiatrist. "It’s for real, trust me. But we’re to meet the big wigs for lunch on Tuesday."
"That’s two days from now. I have classes to teach."
"May I suggest postponing them? This is quite important considering we’ve been working towards this since high school." Marion removed her glasses and rubbed her eyes tiredly. For her it had been almost a life long pursuit, a quest started in the eighth grade undertaken at first for personal amusement and later for the greater good of humanity. She called it Avalon, named after the utopian island she hoped to make it. Hari had joined the cause late their freshman year and even after high school they’d corresponded, perfecting their designs as each gained more knowledge in their respective fields.
"Of course, of course. I’ve got a class now, but I’ll call you back this evening."
"Sure thing, man. Talk to you." Marion replaced the receiver in its cradle and sat back in her chair. Things were beginning to look up. A clock beeped on her desk, alerting the woman to the beginning of her shift at the array. She was late...and that meant no coffee tonight.
Marion paced outside the office impatiently. Few expectant fathers could rival her display of anxiety as her proposal was reviewed within. A man sat nearby with his head resting on his hands and his arms resting on his knees. His head snapped up and the woman stopped pacing when the door cracked open.
"Just running to Starbuck’s for some coffee. You want anything?"
"Carmel Machiato," Marion replied, running a hand nervously through her dark hair. "Hari?"
"Darjeeling for me," the man replied quietly, returning his head to his hands.
"I’ll be back in about a half an hour." The coffee boy nodded and left the waiting room. Tension mounted in the silence, and Marion’s pacing accelerated at a fevered pitch.
"Sit down and relax," Hari bade her, gesturing to a seat across from him. "You’re acting like they’re posting final grades for Engineering."
"This is the final grade for Engineering. I’ve been working on this since I was thirteen." Marion sighed and looked towards the large oak doors that concealed her fate. "Do you know what it’s like to finally see a pet idea come to light?"
"Don’t get your hopes up, Marion. You just finished grad school." Marion shook her head and flopped down in the stiff plastic chair.
"Har- I’ve been waiting for this day since grade school. It’s my life." The waiting room door opened and the coffee boy peaked in.
"One Machiato," he announced, handing the grande coffee to Marion. "And a Darjeeling." Hari accepted his tea gratefully and took a few slow sips.
"Do you think they’re done yet," Hari inquired, setting his tea on the glass topped table and sitting up straight.
"Probably. I’ll ask when I take the coffee in." The coffee boy cracked open the door and slipped into the office quietly. He did not emerge again for almost ten minutes. neither Marion nor Hari so much as looked up when the coffee boy came back out.
"They’re ready for you." Marion rose slowly and straightened her black khakis and turtleneck before approaching the room. Slightly more calm, Hari rose, grabbed his tea, and followed Marion into the office.
What is it about wood paneling and black leather furniture that is so intimidating, Marion wondered as she went to stand at the far end of the board table. They’re like the Round Table Council at the trial of Lancelot and Guinevere.
"We have reviewed your proposal mister Seldon, miss Glen. And I must say, it has aroused interest amongst our number. You have won the contract. Congratulations." Marion and Hari hugged, both almost in tears with excitement. A long road lay ahead, and the journey would not be easy.
November 5, 2014
"Twelve thirty-two a.m." the computer droned, causing a dark haired woman to look up from her lap top and rub her eyes tiredly. Sighing, amber eyes rolled towards the nearby porthole. The moon was full in few- if her guess was correct that meant the unit was about half way through its rotation.
"Marion," a male voice interrupted. The woman glanced at the liquid crystal display screen and noted the blue flashing ‘Incoming Message’ alert. "Still awake?"
"Of course I am, Hari," Marion replied tiredly. "We haven’t even started full hab yet and things are hiccupping."
"Better now than when civilians are on board."
We are civilians Marion didn’t remind him. Hari Seldon had his delusions, just as any other person did.
"The scrubbers are acting up. It’s nothing major. I’m gonna run up and fix ‘em as soon as I get some sleep."
"Are the computers working all right?"
"Of course they are. Didn’t Coop design them?" Marion sighed and blinked sleep from her eyes. There was no way she’d be able to run the settlement and oversee construction of the other modules if she didn’t get some sleep, and soon. "Hey man, I’m gonna get some sleep. I’ll get back to you in the morning."
"Not too late. It’s minus five here. You have a habit of forgetting that. I also have a press conference." Hari paused. "That reminds me. Don’t forget the conference on Friday with the arrival of the first settlers."
"Yeah. And let’s pray nothing goes wrong. Night." Marion closed the window, lowered the screen of her lap top, and shuffled over to her bed. The interior designers had made the quarters too Star Trek-ish, Marion thought, but they’d gotten many complements on the lay out. At least in this case form followed function. The low G sporting facilities intended for one of the other habs, currently under construction, were absolutely hideous. Still, the investors had to have some say.
"Twelve fifty a.m." the clock reported. It was greeted with only the sound of snoring.
November 7, 2014
"Today marks a great step forward for mankind." Marion watched on the main television in her office on Avalon as Hari gave his address. She’d written the speech, well, the core of it. He’d added flourishes to it, and at the end all that remained hers were the parts where she waxed poetic, and the allegorical section of Arthurian background. "No longer are we stranded on our small planet. Today a contingent of every day citizens of the human race embarks on a momentous journey to the stars. Keep in mind that these people are not rocket scientists, and they are not professional astronauts or cosmonauts. The men, women, and children you see before you are your neighbors and your friends."
He went on for some time longer, speaking about the station and how nations from all over the world had come together to build it, and how it was only the first step towards their ultimate goal of a second earth.
"Good luck and Godspeed." The door to the ‘StarBus’ was shut and the loading scaffold pulled away as the engines engaged. Around the world action stopped to watch the liftoff. Some stations had ‘guest experts’ come on and attempt to put the technology behind Avalon into simple terms. Others simply fixed their cameras on the ship or panned around the launch site. On Avalon, Marion was showering and preparing for the arrival of the settlers.
"You pulled that off quite nicely," she said told Hari over the satellite view phone. She had picture turned off on her end as she dressed. "Rambled a bit in the beginning, though."
"I just wanted to make sure I got my point across. About how long do you think it will be before they arrive?"
"Two, maybe three hours. The in flight movie is The Right Stuff, right?" Marion wrapped her hair in a towel and flicked the picture on. "You can change, you know."
"What?" Hari looked down and chuckled. "Oh. The suit. It’s comfortable."
"Whatever. You’ve got weird tastes in clothing. Anyway...I’m just going to wear my jump suit today. If I’m not comfortable, I’ll look like a nit on television." It was a shame, really, that after all her work Marion had to worry about appearances more than anything else, but such was life in the twenty-first century. "I look credible as an engineer and astrophysicist, right?"
"Stick the pencil in your hair like you used to do." Marion blinked in confusion and complied. "Much better. Hey, I have to run to some post launch things. Have fun. Are you going to be coming back down for the holidays?"
"Probably not. The first year or so is going to be rough around here. Tell everyone at home I said hi, though. See you ‘round, man." The screen went dark when Marion turned it off and she began blow-drying her hair.
"Welcome to Avalon," Marion said as the last of the settlers found their seat in the hall. "My name is Marion Glen, and I am the engineer of the settlement you are now standing in. Twenty years ago I entered a contest for space settlement design with a habitation unit called the Norseman. My team took first place for our age group. Two years later I entered again with my friend Hari Seldon, whom you all met before embarking on your great journey. I must say here and now that I am considerably less eloquent than he, so you’ll be out of here in a few moments, free to settle into your homes. I simply want to bid you welcome, and wish you the best of luck. There are materials in your homes outlining the basics of life here, you’ve all seen it before when you contacted our Terrain representatives. We have taken the liberty of stocking your pantries with everything you should need for the first few weeks until you become accommodated to your surroundings. And if you have any questions at all, my office is number thirteen on the intercom."
The years ahead would be a challenge, but Marion was ready for them. Right now, she felt like she was ready for anything.
Special thanks to Nihar Gala and Karyn Frohbergh for their technical assistance with the drawings and HTML work.
1. SCORE (Self Contained Off-world Residential Environment); Nyssa Stephanie Rene Woods; Jacksonville, Illinois 1997
2. The Babylon Project; Thomas Beatty and David Peters; Greenwich High School 1998
3. In the future, you might be talking to your oven; Kevin Maney; Gannet News Service; March 1999
4. Spaceships of the Mind; Nigel Calder; Viking Press, 1978;
5. Future Quest; PBS 1995
6. Colonization of Space (Chapter 1); http://wciece.NASA.gov/Services/Education/SpaceSettlement/75summerstudy/Chapt1.html; 01/03/10
7. Formulas, Facts, and Constants; http://science.nas.nasa.gov/Services/Education/SpaceSettlement/designer/tables/html; Al Globus, Tugrul Sezen, and Bryan Yager; 00/11/05
8. Human Needs in Space (Chapter 3); http://science.nas.nasa.gov/Services/Education/SpaceSettlement/75SummerStudy/Chapt3.html; Al Globus, Tugrul Sezen, and Bryan Yager; 00/07/12
9. Physical Properties of Space (Chapter 2); http://science.nas.nasa.gov/Services/Education/SpaceSettlement/75SummerStudy/Chapt2.html; Al Globus, Tugrul Sezen, and Bryan Yager; 00/07/12
10. Gravity; http://science.nas.nasa.gov/Services/Education/SpaceSettlement/designer/gravity.html; 00/07/13
11. Assembling a World-Class Orbiting Laboratory, Science Activities and Future Exploration; http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/reference/fel/science.html; Kim Dismukes, Radislav Sinyak; 00/6/14
12. Regenerative Life Support- Inputs and Outputs; http://ucs.orst.edu/~atwaterj/io.htm; James E. Atwater, 1996
13. Colonies in Space; http://www.ucolick.org/~patrik/Av3/so16/node4.html; firstname.lastname@example.org; 99/06/02
14. Technology in Your World Second Edition; Michael Hacker and Robert Barden; Glencoe-Mcgraw-Hill New York, New York 1992
15. Newtonian Laws of Motion; Extract from ‘History of the Universe’ CD-ROM; 1997 Ransom Publishing
16. American Civics Fourth Edition; William H. Hartley and William S. Vincent; Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1983
17. Microsoft Encarta Reference Suite 1999; 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation.
18. The Norseman; Joe DiLauro, Abby Kin, Megan O’Connell, and Kimberly McBride; Berlin, NJ 1999
19. Sun Never Sets, For Long, On Fast-Spinning, Water-Rich Asteroid; http://echo.jpl.nasa.gov/~ostro/KY26/JPL_press_release.text; JPL Media Relations Office 1999; 00/11/08
20. URC Advanced Life Support; http://users.quake.net/~umpqua/als.htm; UMPQUA Research Company 1998
21. Life Support Systems; http://www.marsacademy.com/lss.htm; 00/06/12
22. International Conference on Environmental Systems; http://ucs.orst.edu/~atwaterj/ices.htm; James E. Atwater 1996
23. Advanced Life Support; http://advlifesupport.jsc.nasa.gov/; NASA Johnson Space Center; 00/06/12
24. Cylinder Space Settlements; http://lifesci3.arc.nasa.gov/SpaceSettlement/designer/sphere.html; Al Globus, Tugrul Sezen, Bryan Yager
25. Report of the Workshop on Biology-based Technology to Enhance Human Well-being and Function in Extended Space Exploration; Anne Simmons 2000; 00/10/15
26. Regolith Rockets, A gateway for cheap access to deep space; Mr. Jocelyn Boily 2000; From Lecture at the Third International Mars Society Convention, Aug. 10-13 2000
27. A Conceptual Model of a Robotics Laboratory to Search for Life in Martian Subsurface Water and Permafrost; David C. Gan and Lawrence Kuznetz 2000; From Lecture at the Third International Mars Society Convention, Aug. 10-13 2000
28. The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations is licensed from Columbia University Press. Copyright © 1993 by Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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