A SPACE OASIS: Part Two
Space exploration is a popular topic these days. First there was the excitement over the landing of the Mars Rover. This was followed by President Bush’s speech about returning to the Moon by the year 2020, in which he envisioned a lunar base that could become a launch pad for future Mars missions by robots and eventually humans. Also currently under construction is the International Space Station (ISS), to be completed in 2006. Already in operation with its fifth three-man crew in residence, the ISS is expected to operate for at least ten years supporting a crew of generally six members for 90 days at a time.
In the recent Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge, students were given the task of designing their own space station. One of the top ten entries in the Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge was created by a local homeschool team consisting of five 7th and 8th grade students – Megan Barlow and Chris Minsky of Desert Hills, Aaron MacInnis and Dominic Martel of Glendale, and Peter Olsen of New River. Last week we featured a condensed version of the first half of their report. It introduced their mission and focused on the important topics of gravity, structure, power supply, shielding, docking port, atmosphere, and water supply. This week’s summary covers food, waste, medical, communications, culture, recreation, art, and politics.
If you missed the first part of this article, or if you would like to read the whole Space Oasis report including footnotes, bibliography, specifications and statistics that are not included here, please see www.knowledgehouse.info/njfkhoneywell.html where it is posted in its entirety.
Meals on the space station will consist mostly of cereals (wheat and/or rice) and legumes (peanuts and/or soybeans); sweet potato and/or white potato for carbohydrates; vegetables (lettuce, tomato, broccoli) and herbs (onion, garlic) for vitamins A and C; powdered milk for calcium; and pouches of tuna and salmon for protein. Steaks of pre-cooked beef for special occasions are irradiated (sterilized by exposure to ionizing radiation) and packaged in foil-laminated pouches.
Fresh food supplies such as meat, fruit, and dairy products, will be scarce. Bulky and heavy food supplies will be expensive to transport to the station. Inexpensive meals will come in dehydrated form in small freeze-dried packets. Water is added to make it edible. For example, sweet and sour beef with rice in a compact foil pouch. These can be supplemented with fresh foods grown hydroponically aboard the station, as well as with dried, boxed, and frozen food.
Bees will be needed to pollinate the crops, so honey will be available aboard the station. This can be used as substitute for sugar and jelly. Fruit trees are too big to grow hydroponically. Dried fruits are supplied from Earth. Dried fruits last longer without spoiling, and are easier to transport.
Condiments and staples such as sugar, baking soda, baking powder, maple syrup, powdered milk, drink mixes, boxed cereals, dried herbs, spices, tea, nuts, salt, pepper, catsup, mustard, mayonnaise, hot sauce, soy sauce, etc. will have to be brought up from Earth and stored on board.
Sources of fat will be limited, so it wouldn’t hurt to have a chocolate bar for snacks or dessert. Nutritional energy bars would also be useful. Poor food choices which should not be brought on board are: soda pop, fast foods, and foods that are full of saturated fat.
One astronaut needs 50 square meters of crops for food. A crew of three would need 150 square meters of hydroponic gardens—enough to fill a 3-bedroom house! This means that a crew of 100 would need 5,000 square meters of hydroponic gardens.
Some excellent hydroponic crops that would appeal to astronauts of many different cultures are: wheat, corn, tomatoes, soybeans, potatoes, rice, peanuts, sweet potato, cabbage, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, and seaweed. These were chosen based on their nutrition, taste, variety of uses, ease of production, and how many different ways they can be prepared. These should be grown in staggered fashion, so that they can be harvested at regular intervals all year long.
A hydroponic garden will produce both food and oxygen, while simultaneously purifying the water and filtering carbon dioxide. This makes a hydroponic garden very important to have for a self-sufficient space station. Hydroponic plants grow in water instead of soil. They need less space, produce more food, and use fewer nutrients because of a more efficient growing system. Rainfall simulations will water the plants while cleansing and freshening the atmosphere.
Human waste can be recycled by using plants along with a waste water purification system to convert the "brown water" (sewer water) into pure drinking water. This can be done naturally in conjunction with food production.
In the natural animal-plant cycle, animals breathe in oxygen from the air and breathe out carbon dioxide as a waste. Plants absorb this carbon dioxide from the air and emit oxygen as a waste. Thus, plants produce food and oxygen for animals, while animals produce carbon dioxide for plants as well as wastes which can be used as fertilizer for the plants. Dead plants also make good compost and need not be wasted.
Packaging materials should be reusable, biodegradable, recyclable, or eliminated altogether to reduce waste. Plastic, metal, and glass containers can be reused and recycled. Disposable paper plates and cups should be avoided to lower the amount of waste that is thrown away.
For any remaining trash that cannot be recycled, a trash compactor will reduce the volume of the trash. About every two to three weeks we will shoot it off into space. It will then burn up entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
In the Sick Bay area there will be beds that will measure automatically for vital signs; no crewmembers will be needed for this task. A room will also be included for Chiropractic care, as well as a special room off to the side for any needed operations. There will be another room that serves as a dentist office. If there is something that the doctor cannot handle there will be a small ship that will be sent down to earth.
In the medical module, there is a mini-pharmacy and extra storage for the antibiotics and other supplies. The lock for the pharmacy is a key card. If the card is stolen the key can be disarmed from the main control room of the station, and every day the code on the card changes to make it harder for the person who stole the card.
Since there will be many crewmembers from different nations, most will speak different languages. How do you solve this problem? Computers with a translator program are in use by the United States military. These programs work by using multiple databases, each database containing one language. Let's say for example, an American astronaut (who knows English and German) meets a French astronaut (who knows French and Italian). They will not be able to understand one another. But with the help of the translators they will. These translators will be worn as an earphone so they will not interfere with each other. The translators are only oral translators, therefore, an emergency escape route and plan will have to be in several different languages so all astronauts and crewmembers can read and understand it.
The idea for the international space shuttle began for a U.S. space station, called Freedom, that never came to be. The creation of Freedom was first proposed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. The project was canceled in the early 1990s.
The ESA (European Space Agency-- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden); NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the United States space program; Canadian, Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian space agencies will all be contributing to the station.
For crewmembers to feel comfortable, they must feel like they are in their own country. A Chinese astronaut, who is a Buddhist, would probably want a temple on board the station. A Christian would want an onboard chapel. We will designate a Religious Retreat Room where individuals can reflect, pursue their own religions. The room will be equipped with books, bibles, religious artifacts, etc. from all different religions. There will be audio tapes available of sermons.
An astronaut would also like his or her own kind of food, depending on his or her own culture. Since several types of hydroponics are going to grow on the Oasis, foods like seaweed are available, which is a common food in Japan thus satisfying the Japanese astronaut.
The Counselor/Mediator should be well informed of the various cultures and religious beliefs represented on board, so that he/she may be able to resolve conflicts.
If there is not a recreation module for exercise and fun the people who live on the station will become weak from lack of muscle use. An empty room in micro gravity is for people to have fun floating around. The recreation room should have an exercise room in it that should include some stationary bicycles, treadmills, rowing machines and weights.
There will be a travel corridor on the lower level running all the way around, for use by electric carts, pedestrians, joggers, inline skaters, etc. If a person walks from one point all the way around the torus to where he started from, he will have walked almost 1½ miles.
Another room in the multi-purpose room should be a craft room. There should be a creativity area in this room, which should have Legos, crossword puzzles and puzzles. In a corner of the multi-purpose room should be card, dice or board games. We recommend chess, backgammon and checkers.
A must have in the recreation module is a library! Astronauts like a choice so they will have a large selection of books, music and movies of all kinds. A part of the library should be of tapes and DVDs.
Finally, in the recreation module would be a multi-purpose stage, primarily for opera. Our research shows that many astronauts like opera. The stage would also be used for other recreational functions such as plays, comedians, presentations etc. Other music would be available at the onboard library.
Astronauts don’t like plain black and white walls, especially to have to look at for two years, so we should add color here and there in rooms. Some of the best colors are red, orange and yellow. These colors set a happy mood and an energetic mood. These would be perfect for recreation rooms and long halls. While other colors such as green, blue and purple make a calm and cool mood. These colors would be good for living quarters.
They need lighting as natural as possible, so lights on the ceiling are nice, because they’re like the sunlight coming down. They will also want windows and landscape art. Most astronauts like to look out windows in their free time. They like pictures of the space shuttles and the solar system too. Some silk plants around the shuttle are nice too, they add color and don’t require water.
On the space station we should have one Head Commander and three Commanders. These are the people who decide what to do if there is an emergency. All decisions will be majority rules, with the Head Commander having final say.
If anyone breaks the code or laws they will be sent to the jury. The jury will decide if they’re guilty or not. But Mission Control will decide the punishment. These punishments can range from monetary, to confinement to quarters, to additional detail. If necessary they will be incarcerated until a supply shuttle can return them to earth.
There will be a place where people can file complaints and ask for things to be changed, and once a week the three head commanders will meet and review them. This way it’s fair for everyone to speak up and not have to live with a problem.
Did You Know…?
Even though this was just a hypothetical project, it goes to show how much planning is needed to build a real space station! If you think you may be interested in becoming an aerospace engineer or astronaut, you can get a head start by reading science books about space, as well as science fiction stories for ideas. Concentrate on getting good grades in your math and science classes. You can also take a web-based introductory course in Space Science at www.space-education.org. This is a great program for high school students in anticipation of engineering-related careers. Many local aerospace companies – Honeywell, General Dynamics, and Orbital Sciences to name a few – will likely benefit from the rebirth of space exploration, resulting in a demand for aerospace engineers.
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