The Challenges of Living in Space

Following the successful launch of Sputnik ,about half a century ago, our space program has dramatically evolved . Landing on the moon, discovering signs of life on Mars and now an international space station providing a permanent human presence in space! This space station is equipped with facilities to house three crew members at a time. Three at a time! What would it take to house a billion families of three or more in space. For now, we can only speculate…

Constructing space habitats will be a humongous engineering feat. A floating man made habitat in space should be of a size comparable to earth in order to house the more than seven billion population. The most sophisticated space projects of NASA are worth hundreds of billion of dollars, meant for a crew of not more than ten space travelers.
If all the countries pool in all their funds, will we have enough funds to plan this space habitat?

One of the governing factors in the difference in life style of space travelers is the absence of gravity in space. Lack of gravitational force, leads to decrease in bone density, muscle atrophy, and an overall loss of sense of orientation over a period of time.
While these conditions , if not too friendly, are not too detrimental for our space travelers, who are not required to be on board for more than six months. Spending a life time in space would mean that we need a gravity generating habitat. Most importantly we cannot breed in a “floating around lifestyle”. This, by itself could be one of the greatest challenges.

Lack of atmosphere
Our atmosphere shields us from the regular impact of massive asteroids and harmful radiations from space. We will need similar shielding in space. The living habitat will be an enlarged capsule with a heavy thick impact shield which would survive the impact of the massive heavenly bodies at the same time it should also allow light to pass through it. We will need special habitat navigators to steer the habitat away from the path cosmic debris.

Sustaining life
We will need regular supply of oxygen, water and light along with an effective sanitation for waste removal system. It will be inspired by the current oxygen generator systems on spaceships, which uses electricity and water to form oxygen with hydrogen as the byproduct. Hydrogen can be combined with the exhaled carbon dioxide to reclaim water.

Getting there
A job transfer from New York to Brazil would take a good deal of adjustment. Imagine billions of people setting for space to start a living all over again. It will take years of training for each one of the billion people, to prepare for the crushing take off, the following microgravity in space, and the new lifestyle at their final destination.

Structure of Society
As we take off for space, we will leave behind all our national and regional boundaries. It would be like flying into a completely bizarre civilization. New laws will have to be formulated. Who will do this? Our world leaders, or our space scientists and engineers who provided us with the new habitat. How will the new society and the new laws be? And how will we adapt to it?

Living space will be limited out there. Every inch of the new habitat will be worth several hundred dollars. That would mean, building into free space As the population increases, there will be no suburbs to occupy. To expand the living space with increase in population will not be as convenient on earth.

Thinking of challenges, this would be one of the most daunting tasks humankind has ever set for. Preventing global warming, and efforts to make earth a better place to live seem more plausible.