Analysis of Inflating Habitable Space Structures with neomass (near-Earth-object mass)

by Anthony Zuppero, Idaho Natl Engineering Lab, Idaho Falls, United States,
Nancy Linarez-Royce, Idaho Natl Engineering Lab, Idaho Falls, United States,
Pat Whitman, Idaho Natl Engineering Lab, Idaho Falls, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


The discovery of near Earth objects (NEOs), during August 1992, and that one of them is a dormant comet, dramatically changed the potential availability of near-Earth resources. NEOs provide a capability to return about a thousand times more construction materials to an orbit around Earth than from the Moon, the Earth or Mars. This analysis examines ways to use the NEO mass to construct space vehicles that address and begin to solve the three fundamental issues preventing massive human residence in space: Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR), zero gravity and confined spaces. The proposed vehicle would launch thin envelopes, somewhat like bladder molds, into which mass from space would be injected. The mass from space would solidify into the desired space vehicle. The structural materials included ice and brick, which are both available on NEOs. The envelope materials included steel and plastic. The analysis then examined how many living spaces the resulting vehicle would provide as a function of the launched mass. It quantified the tensile stress imposed on the structure due to the vehicle rotation and concluded that ice and bricks both can provide the desired mechanical properties. It quantified the amount of mass required both from space and launched from Earth. We concluded that envelopes with masses in the range between about 1 and 150 tons can provide living spaces for 20 to 3000 people and require between 1,700 and 25,000 tons from space.

Subject Headings: Space structures | Vehicles | Space exploration | Structural analysis | Steel structures | Space stations | Construction materials

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