Monday, November 2, 2015

Space retirement

My latest at Research magazine: "Space Travel, Robots and Your Clients’ Retirement." Excerpt:
Consider the scenario below. Though it reads like science fiction, it is from a serious-minded report, with the sober title “Commercial Space Transportation Study,” that was presented to NASA by a consortium of aerospace companies in 1994 to assess various potential uses of space. One possibility raised was retirement in orbit: 
“For long-term residences in space, the elderly may be some of the people who could benefit from living in reduced gravity conditions … Without the heavy weight of gravity pulling down on them, elderly people may find themselves far more self-sufficient than they were on Earth. If they were only able to get around a little in their room and dress themselves while on the ground, they may find that they are able to get around enough to completely take care of cleaning, cooking, or other chores. In some cases, they may want to perform some type of job. It is possible that very little staff would be required to maintain a retirement center in space because the tenants could care for themselves.”
Hasn't worked out that way. Whole thing here.


Ray Haupt said...

It sure did not work out that way and likely never will because of cost and perhaps some technical problems that will not be overcome by technology. One of the great limitations to living in outer space or another planet is the fact that the Earth's atmosphere and the molten iron core of the Earth shield us from harmful radiation. That protection is not available in space, on the Moon, or on Mars. Too bad. I'd prefer that science fiction fantasies were easier to accomplish, but they are not, certainly not at reasonable cost and not such that large numbers of people can take advantage.
But rest assured, robots are here now and will be coming along strongly. Good.

Kenneth Silber said...

Hi Ray. Let's just say there's a profit opportunity for someone who comes up with good radiation shielding. I like this btw:

Ray Haupt said...

Hey Ken, That is a cute little article that appeals to my science fiction side but not so much to my scientific side and especially not to my practical economic side. Perhaps such a thing is technically possible for a small scientific expedition, but it would be of enormous expense, and require many tons of materials to be transported safely and precisely to the surface of Mars. Furthermore, the human staff on the Mars end of this project would be on a one way trip and thus must be suicidal which makes me think that they are not the kind of folks I would wish to gamble on carrying out an enormously expensive project.

I wonder too, just what great knowledge can be gleaned from this kind of experiment that is commensurate with the expense. If I were in charge I would divert a lot of the NASA science budget from Outer Space Research to intense Oceanic Research with hopes of learning more about our planet rather than one millions of miles away. Research money is too scarce to squander on frivolous ideas.