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Mid-sized space habitats (aka Really colossal space habitats)

space habitats megastructures bishop ring mckendree cylinder space space colonization

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#1
Jakob

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I've flapped my gums now and again about small space habitats like Stanford toruses, Bernal spheres, O'Neill Cylinders, and asteroid terrariums. From Orion's Arm (of course), I have learned of space habitats that dwarf even these. Basic habs are kilometers across and support thousands to millions. These "mid-sized" habs are thousands of kilometers across and support hundreds of millions to billions. Perhaps the proper labels are not small, mid-sized, and large, but colossal (O'Neill cylinders, etc.), really colossal (the topic of discussion here), and stupidly colossal (ringworlds, dyson spheres, etc.).

 

So you people are probably thinking Jakob, what are you banging your keyboard about now? Meet the Bishop Ring:

 

bishopring.JPG

 
They seem to be in the range of several hundred to a few thousand kilometers in diameter. In other words, yuge.
 
McKendree Cylinders are even bigger, up to ten thousand kilometers long and a thousand kilometers wide:
mckendree.jpg
 
Basically just an O'Neill Cylinder, but scaled up millions of times larger.
 
These are an entirely different ballgame from conventional habitats for many reasons:
  • Numbers. It's not out of the realm of possibility to imagine hundreds, even thousands, of small habs drifting around a star system. These guys? It's difficult to imagine an economic justification for building more than a few in any given star system.
  • Materials. They're too big for asteroid mining, unless you'd like to break up a terrestrial planet or hoover up every bit of free-floating rock for billions of kilometers around. We need basic starlifting as a prerequisite for gaining the materials, otherwise it'll be a hopelessly expensive white elephant.
  • Inside culture. Space is limited in smaller habs. You don't have to go very far to find an edge. You can see where it ends. Here though? We are talking about artificial constructs the size of worlds, and culturally they would have more in common with planets than space stations. It doesn't have the look and feel of a space station, it has the look and feel of a planet (albeit with odd geometry):

mckendreeinterior.jpg

Arik

Why would we want to build one? A real estate developer hoping to muscle in on a crowded star system by whipping up an artificial planet? Colonists hoping to claim an empty system, but wanting a planet to put down roots? Simple showing off, like many of the skyscrapers in the Middle East today?

 

And when can we hope to build one, bearing in mind the need for demand as well as technology? I would lean towards the fourth millennium, when starlifting is the norm and inner systems are likely to be getting crowded. In my timeline, the first ones are built during the Reconstruction and early Kingdom Era to replace planetary surfaces destroyed by the War of Gods and Men as well as showcase the Kingdom's wealth and technological progress.

 

PS: I count supramundane planets in the same spiritual category, even if they aren't technically space habitats. But I already spoke of them.


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#2
Outlook

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I've always loved space habitats and my absolute wish would be to just be in one, sitting in a park and looking up. But I've heard that the cost of maintaining such a habitat would be great. Still if there's a demand for it, an advanced us would build one. I can imagine it being used as you said, like a vessel and base to inhabit another planet.

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#3
As We Rise

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I personally like the idea of ringworlds.

 

What a beautiful sight it'd be.

halcyon_days_by_julian_faylona-d70cz32.j


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#4
Alislaws

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I personally like the idea of ringworlds.

 

What a beautiful sight it'd be.

<amazing picture>

That picture is beautiful!

 

But why would you launch a rocket inwards on a spinning ring-world?  :biggrin:



#5
Jakob

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I personally like the idea of ringworlds.

 

What a beautiful sight it'd be.

<amazing picture>

That picture is beautiful!

 

But why would you launch a rocket inwards on a spinning ring-world?  :biggrin:

 

To get to the other side?



#6
Alislaws

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<...> 

To get to the other side?

 

 

That's a good point!

 

And yeah, it would make a much less awesome picture so i can see why they went with it. 

 

Logically though wouldn't it make more sense to just string a wire across? Then you could transport stuff just using solar power without wasting reaction mass right?



#7
ninja9351

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I actually feel like these massive habitats will have to come before interstellar travel.  I'm very optimistic SpaceX will land humans on Mars by the 2030's, Europa/Titan/Enceladus by the 2050's, and every significant planetary body of interest by 2070.  I seriously doubt the feasibility of Interstellar travel anytime soon though, although interest in it will largely vary on what we learn about Proxima b in the next decade.  People are going to want to build these things though very soon.  I can see something like this becoming a reality in 2100.  I don't see Interstellar travel until around 2200.


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#8
Jakob

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I actually feel like these massive habitats will have to come before interstellar travel.  I'm very optimistic SpaceX will land humans on Mars by the 2030's, Europa/Titan/Enceladus by the 2050's, and every significant planetary body of interest by 2070.  I seriously doubt the feasibility of Interstellar travel anytime soon though, although interest in it will largely vary on what we learn about Proxima b in the next decade.  People are going to want to build these things though very soon.  I can see something like this becoming a reality in 2100.  I don't see Interstellar travel until around 2200.

Yes, manned interstellar travel is only likely by the 23rd century, but bishop rings are centuries away---where to do we get the material from? And who would live there? We'd need a very high population indeed to make such structures worthwhile (another good reason for Cornucopianism).



#9
Guyverman1990

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Is there a thread for smaller-scale space habitats?

#10
Alislaws

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Yes, manned interstellar travel is only likely by the 23rd century, but bishop rings are centuries away---where to do we get the material from? And who would live there? We'd need a very high population indeed to make such structures worthwhile (another good reason for Cornucopianism).

 

 

They are pretty insanely huge, but we could build smaller rings though right?

 

We design an automated process where unmanned space craft mine asteroids and use the materials to build more automated space craft (or deliver the materials to a space station/moon base/earth to be manufactured into more space craft) then eventually we get our huge numbers of space craft to build a Halo.

 

They'd probably still need to be like a thousand km across (radius)

 

The main reason to do this would be so you can set up a government of your own, however crazy and then anyone who likes the sound of it can move there and anyone who doesn't can stay out and in this way we will be able to test new ideas on government and social structure etc. without constantly having revolutions and murdering each-other. Or having to persuade people with no imagination that there could be better ways of of doing things than the way we did them 100 years ago.



#11
Jakob

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Yes, manned interstellar travel is only likely by the 23rd century, but bishop rings are centuries away---where to do we get the material from? And who would live there? We'd need a very high population indeed to make such structures worthwhile (another good reason for Cornucopianism).

 

 

They are pretty insanely huge, but we could build smaller rings though right?

 

Bishop rings have a minimum size to be physically viable. Below a certain size, a Standford Torus makes more sense.


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#12
Jakob

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Addendum: A cross-post from Quora, where it's going viral.

 

Most oddly shaped planets would simply be crushed by their own gravity, provided they were over the size of hydrostatic equilibrium (and if they were not, they could be considered dwarf planets or asteroids). But that’s not so interesting.

Although it’s virtually impossible that one could exist naturally, torus-shaped planets are known to be physically stable. This article goes into great detail about the mechanics of such a world.

19enmkg3rqsirjpg.jpg

Credit: i09

Such a world would have two equators and circular poles instead of points. The gravity of an Earth-sized torus would be fairly similar to Earth, though there would be much more variation. It would be highest at the poles and lowest at the outer equator. Planetary orbits and weather patterns would be very interesting indeed. But such a planet could not only physically exist; it could be habitable.

Someone, however, would almost certainly have to create this world for it to exist.



#13
Alislaws

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Addendum: A cross-post from Quora, where it's going viral.

 

 

If i'm sill around somehow i would definitely consider moving to the first torus planet we construct!

 

I'd live on the inner side, for the incredible views. 

 

What would be going on with gravity in the middle of the hole? 



#14
Jakob

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Addendum: A cross-post from Quora, where it's going viral.

 

 

If i'm sill around somehow i would definitely consider moving to the first torus planet we construct!

 

I'd live on the inner side, for the incredible views. 

 

What would be going on with gravity in the middle of the hole? 

 

It would be a Lagrangian point of sorts. The orbital space around a torus world would be very interesting.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: space habitats, megastructures, bishop ring, mckendree cylinder, space, space colonization

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