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You might have seen large rotating wheel space stations with central de-spun hubs or platforms in sci-fi movies like The Martian. enter image description here My question is, how could the sealing between the rotational and stationary modules work? It must be able to contain the pressure difference of near 1 atmosphere and meanwhile have the lowest friction possible. Any insights on the technologies involved and studies done? published papers, etc.

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The station could be built as a stationary cylinder with a rotating wheel inside. No problem with rotating seals and their friction. But the volume and mass of such a station would be much bigger. But also a stationary torus containing a rotating wheel inside seems possible. The volume and mass of the torus would be much smaller. Adding spokes to the torus is possible. The rotation of the wheel might be stopped and started as necessary to enable an astronaut to change between zero and artificial gravity. But this would cause the whole station to rotate. But some kind of a rotating lift for transfer between stationary and rotating parts of the station would be possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does not answer the question about the seals. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Dec 31 '16 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Organic Marble: Avoiding the seals is one way to solve the problems with the seals. Replacing worn-out seals with spare parts would be very difficult. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Dec 31 '16 at 13:43

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