With NASA making plans to try to send a group of astronauts to Mars by the 2030s, there is renewed interest in designing space settlements. In this lesson, you'll have a chance to study a space settlement design and determine whether or not it will work.
What materials would be needed to build a space station? What would they be used for? Where would they be obtained, and how?
What energy source would the space station use? How would it be harnessed and converted to a form that space station settlers could use?
What are the transportation needs, including the means to launch a space station into orbit? Would it be possible to launch a pre-built station from Earth? Would you want to do this? Is there another way? What about transportation once the station is built? Where would the settlers need to go? Can a space station be self-sufficient?
Who might want to live on a space station? What would be the benefits? How would they communicate with others on earth or in other settlements? What life support systems would they need? What design considerations must be taken into account to ensure that life can be supported in space?
What are the environmental concerns? Why would solar flares or cosmic rays be a problem? How could you protect the space station?
How much would it cost to build a space station? How much would it cost to maintain a space station? Where would the money come from?
Who will benefit from the proposed space settlement?
What human, material, and energy resources will be needed to build, install, operate, and maintain the space settlement? Where will they come from?
What are the primary technologies that will be utilized? Are there risks associated with them?
Can you think of alternatives to those proposed that would achieve the same ends? If so, what are they? What evidence do you have that they would be better?
What are the financial costs? Are these clearly stated in the proposal? Can you identify any costs that were not mentioned by the writers?
What are the risks involved in the design? Who bears the risks? How serious are they?
How will waste products in the space settlement be disposed of and at what costs?