NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Preliminary Assessment of Artificial Gravity Impacts to Deep-Space Vehicle DesignEven after more than thirty years of scientific investigation, serious concerns regarding human physiological effects of long-duration microgravity exposure remain. These include loss of bone mineral density, skeletal muscle atrophy, and orthostatic hypertension, among others. In particular, "Safe Passage: Astronaut Care for Exploration Missions," states "loss of bone density, which apparently occurs at a rate of 1% per month in microgravity, is relatively manageable on the short-duration missions of the space shuttle, but it becomes problematic on the ISS [International Space Station]. ...If this loss is not mitigated, interplanetary missions will be impossible." While extensive investigations into potential countermeasures are planned on the ISS, the delay in attaining full crew complement and onboard facilities, and the potential for extending crews tours of duty threaten the timely (< 20 years!) accumulation of sufficient data for countermeasures formulation. Indeed, there is no guarantee that even with the data, a practical or sufficiently robust set of countermeasures will be forthcoming. Providing an artificial gravity (AG) environment by crew centrifugation aboard deep-space human exploration vehicles, long a staple technique of science fiction, has received surprisingly limited engineering assessment. This is most likely due to a number of factors: the lack of definitive design requirements, especially acceptable artificial gravity levels and rotation rates, the perception of high vehicle mass and performance penalties, the incompatibility of resulting vehicle configurations with space propulsion options (i.e., aerocapture), the perception of complications associated with de-spun components such as antennae and photovoltaic arrays, and the expectation of effective crew micro-gravity countermeasures. These perception and concerns may have been overstated, or may be acceptable alternatives to countermeasures of limited efficacy. This study was undertaken as an initial step to try to understand the implications of and potential solutions to incorporating artificial gravity in the design of human deep-space exploration vehicles. Of prime interest will be the mass penalties incurred by incorporating AG, along with any mission performance degradation.
Document ID
Document Type
Joosten, B. Kent (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 2007
Subject Category
Man/System Technology and Life Support
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 604746.04.01
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

Available Downloads

NameType 20070023306.pdf STI