Spaceships are brilliant, fins a bit of science fiction that requires on and there is a real piece of imagination that’s gone into creating a spacecraft. The design, the concept, crew and how it works is part of the designers imagination with a little bit of science thrown in. I thought it would be fun to have a look at spaceships, what makes them go and why?
Get ready to jump into hyperspace!
We’re starting to look more inside the spacecraft in this second post on building spaceships. I the case of manned space vehicles the humans need to have an environment where they can live work and drive the vehicle. As was discussed in the last post ‘What drives them?’ the type of power plant has a huge impact on the size of the craft, how far it can conceivably go and therefore how much room there is for us to fit in.
The chemical reactions of today’s craft is extremely inefficient compared to the nuclear, fusion and antimatter drives we can only dream of right now. Lots of fuel has to be taken and as such the size of the craft compared to the living space is huge. I’m not sure if there’s a defined ratio but I would say when looking at the total size of today’s spacecraft the human habitable space is about 5% of the space, it may be a lot less than that even. It’s small. In that space too needs to fit all the junk we take with us, food, water, oxygen etc.
One good thing though is that 2 of the most important human elements are linked to electricity generation. Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity which the humans also need and the bi-product of that is… water. Hydrogen also acts as a pretty effective fuel for driving a spacecraft too but right now the amount used in propulsion far exceeds the amount that the humans needs for electricity and water. Just think – one day the technology might be there that the hydrogen used to drive the craft could be less than the humans need. We would then be the limiting factor in the resources we take.
So with all this in mind – were can the humans go? In today’s world they’re normally stuck in the top / up front even in Space X’s Starship the humans sit up front, however the living space is far larger than anything that has come before it. This going to be extremely useful when using it to take humans to Mars – which seems to be progressing faster now than any any time since the Moon landings.
A big part of what seems to dictate humans being up top / front is the intended direction of travel, safety distance from fuel reactors, living and cargo space.
What about the future though?
What will things look like in the future? The visionaries of the future keep broadly speaking to that standard model of people up front, drive to the rear pushing forward even though in space there’s no air or other medium to fly through. We could travel in any direction – the one thing dictating it really are the forces that come into play on the human body while under power (like being pushed back int the seat of an accelerating car). Even the ISS Enterprise (far left) follows this model and it’s arguably the most realistic vision we have yet of what the future might be like.
Wherever we go – as long as there’s something to discover there will need to be space for a few of us at least – or maybe more over time?
No credit claimed on any images – copyright remains with creators.
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