Variable Gravity Research Facility: A Concept

by Paul F. Wercinski, NASA Ames Research Cent, United States,
Marcie A. Smith, NASA Ames Research Cent, United States,
Robert G. Synnestvedt, NASA Ames Research Cent, United States,
Robert G. Keller, NASA Ames Research Cent, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space II


One of the most exciting missions NASA is currently studying is a human mission to Mars. Mission scenarios range from 20 day surface expeditions to permanent human bases on the martian surface. A mission to Mars, however, regardless of the length of stay on the surface, involves interplanetary trip times lasting over one year. Although humans have lived in spacecraft in Earth orbit for long durations, there are fundamental engineering and life sciences issues yet to be resolved in supporting an interplanetary manned mission. One such issue concerns artificial gravity: Is human exposure to artificial gravity necessary for the mission success, and if so, what is the optimum means of achieving artificial gravity? Answering these questions prior to the design of a Mars vehicle would require construction and operation of a dedicated spacecraft in low Earth orbit. This paper summarizes the study results of a conceptual design and operations scenario for such a spacecraft, called the Variable Gravity Research Facility (VGRF).

Subject Headings: Orbits | Space exploration | Human factors | Lifeline systems | Mars | Vehicles | Biological processes | Federal government

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