Some discussion around the existing question What is the largest naturally occurring body that could be hollowed and safely lived in? has lead me to post this question. I think the solution revolves around the strength of water ice in a vacuum, but I may be mistaken.
Assuming 100% pure water ice is used to create a hollow structure could it be pressurized to support human life suitable for a space station or transportation device (spaceship)? If yes, what is the largest structure that could be safely constructed?
There are of course many variables
- The structure is 100% pure ice, insulating materials inside the structure are anchored to the sphere/structure without providing structural integrity
- A naturally existing body may be hollowed
- A structure may be created from pure water
- A sphere is imagined but not required
- At least half the radius of the structure must be hollow (no building caves on Europa)
- Sublimation may be addressed without providing structural integrity
- Spin to create gravity is desirable but not required