194

Clothes require laundry because they have accumulated dirt and other materials from the environment and their wearer. If the astronaut was not wearing those clothes then that material they captured would be released to the environment. In the space station it is a closed environment where such dirt and material would contribute to the accumulated hazards. ...


83

Clothing performs essential duties on the station in addition to modesty. They are an easy way to organize stuff. In addition to pockets, clothing is festooned with velcro strips for attaching tools, pens etc. NASA is working on methods for washing clothes in space. Not surprisingly, they've studied the tradeoffs between including a washing machine in the ...


25

In addition to capture of contaminants, such as dead skin, hair, sweat, etc, and abrasion/cut protection, clothing forms a basic thermal layer that allows the human body to better regulate its internal temperature and perceived comfort level. Every human has variations in temperature, and even in a perfectly controlled environment once you place two humans ...


16

A picture might be worth a thousand words. Just imagine this situation without clothes:


16

The test had to start somewhere. There are a number of reasons why they couldn't simply do a 6 person stay, that make it somewhat difficult at least. These include: There is a natural cycle to bring down astronauts from the ISS, in that a Soyuz needs to be replaced every 6 months. While in theory a crew could bring a Soyuz, and bring the old one down, that ...


15

Money. Over how many administrations, regimes, revolutions, wars, etc. will a 100-year spacecraft operations need to be funded? If you expect to get data back, you will need to keep antennas and/or photon buckets (for laser comm) pointed at the thing, and you have to maintain and likely replace those assets over time. You are unlikely to design something ...


13

There are probably a bunch of problems, but lets start with some easy ones: Thermal cycling Each side of the vehicle will differ in temperature a great deal, since one side will be in sunlight, the other in shade. You can do a rotisserie roll, as Apollo did on the way to the moon, but that makes maintaining lock on earth with an antenna harder. Regardless,...


12

This is a very important subject. Recommended reading: Nick Kanas, Dietrich Manzey. Space Psychology and Psychiatry. Springer, 2008. To quote (pp.193-194): From the very beginning of long-duration space flight, the provision of psychological in-flight support to crewmembers has been an important counter- measure in Russia [Grigoriev et al., 1987; ...


10

New Horizons has been designed for a lifetime of 20-25 years. New Horizons is powered by an RTG. Over time, this will lose power as the plutonium decays. Around 2030 (PDF on New Horizons design), the RTG will no longer supply sufficient power to cover the spacecraft's needs even in its lowest-power cruise mode. For probes to the outer solar system, the power ...


9

Power System duration Mechanical wear thermal cycling impact damage operational vibration friction wear radiation damage Material choices Power System Duration There is no more fundamental need on a spacecraft than a source of power. Except for some of the earliest satellites, spacecraft are fundamentally electronic systems. While the radio-thermal ...


8

We don't know exactly what kind of shape it will be in. There are a few similar objects that have been returned, however, that we can get at least an idea of what it might look like. Let's look at the comparisons: Surveyor 3- Landed on the Moon, was visited (Ironically) by the crew of Apollo 12. A report was done on the damage to this craft. 2 years on moon....


7

Shuttle mission length was limited by lots of consumables, including propellant and canisters for the life support system. The Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System (SSPTS) could provide electrical power to the Shuttle, but it only allowed the shuttle to remain docked for an extra 4 days. Only Discovery and Endeavour were equipped with the SSPTS. The ...


7

Mark Adler makes a good case for this being a matter of financing, but like always, there's two sides to the coin. If we put it in analogy, if we built a jukebox that could play for a hundred years, we'd also need someone to keep feeding it dimes. If it was really as durable, you'd get as much music out of it, as you'd throw money in it. But you also get one ...


6

In addition to Geoffc's answer, let me give a few others. Batteries- These eventually wear out. This is a bit deal for LEO missions, not as much for other missions. Mechanical failure- Reaction wheels are the most common, you just can't keep things spinning forever.


6

The spacecraft farthest away from Earth is Voyager 1. But that's not necessarily the longest distance traveled. If you accept the distance traveled while in orbit, a spacecraft can rack up a lot of miles while staying close to Earth. Let's try this for Helios I: launched in 1974, so 42 years ago. 367.920 hours, 1.324 *109 seconds, at 45 km/s this is 59 *...


5

It has been attempted, but is very difficult. The ISEE-3 mission was put into a hibernation mode where it made a close Earth approach last year. When that close approach happened, it was determined that the spacecraft's thruster did not work, which resulted in a failure to anticipate. More practically, such missions are not usually attempted because ...


5

Allow me to give the obvious answer of spirulina. Here's a NASA report from 1988 on the subject of growing food during space missions. I don't know if it's particularly different from any other NASA report on the subject: http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19890016190 The abstract is unhelpful, but the entire introduction is highly relevant to your question,...


5

Intra solar travel is far more predictable and less harsh than low earth orbit, so we have the materials and technology to make something survive 100 years. The problem is chemical decomposition of the electrical power systems, primarily the solar arrays and batteries. Obviously we need backup components. But backups cannot solve the problem of chemical ...


5

It's likely that a Mars mission will take a total of 32 months, not 18; the launch window for a fuel-efficient return journey requires a wait of over a year after arrival. Humans need 2-4 liters of water per day. Assume a crew of 5; that works out to about 10-20 tons of water if you don't recycle it. That's a significant chunk of the overall mass ...


5

Mark Kelly, told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" by email, Scott Kelly's life, height return to normal after near year in space, that his brother is back to his normal height. Astronaut Scott Kelly, who grew about 2 inches during his nearly one year stay on the International Space Station, is back to his normal height, his identical twin brother, ...


4

Voyager 1 and 2 have both been operational for 36 years; I believe they're our longest-lasting space missions to date. They're still in good working order. Their radiothermal power generators will probably give out in another ten years or so, but I don't see any fundamental reason that a Voyager-like probe couldn't be built with a 100-year lifetime. More/...


4

could it be done using today's technology, ignoring the orbital mechanics and merely focussing on power management and other similar issues? Yes. It's a question of feasibility more than possibility. Solar panels degrade, batters decrease their depth of discharge, reaction wheels need momentum burns, but all of these things just state the requirement for ...


4

The first thing to say is that neither a nuclear powered ion rocket, nor a nuclear pulse rocket such as Orion is capable of sustaining 1g continuous acceleration over lightyears (nor indeed is any kind of rocket, except perhaps one fuelled by antimatter). To take an extreme case, consider a rocket that fuses protons to helium and manages to convert 100% of ...


4

Even small, relatively cheap steps haven't been taken to space Leaving aside the idea that there's such a thing as "cheap" in space: Sept. 14, 1966 - Gemini XI Artificial Gravity Experiment Gemini XI separated from the Agena with their spacecraft pointed nose-down toward the Earth. Conrad and Gordon maneuvered their craft to keep the tether taut ...


3

Spacecraft are designed for a mission: "We want to measure X, Y and Z". The spacecraft is designed to fulfill this objective. For many missions, once you've completed that, the mission is over and there's little point in doing it again. E.g. if the objective is to provide a surface map, photographing the entire surface once is enough, doing it again won't ...


3

When Shuttle was docked, it was used to do any propulsive maneuvers the station required. So, eventually you would use up enough prop to hit the propellant quantity redlines for a safe deorbit. You might be able to stretch it by switching back and forth between ISS and Shuttle control, but I don't know how well ISS motion control would work with a docked ...


3

Per his 2017 Reddit AMA: The main tanks will be vented to vacuum, the outside of the ship is well insulated (primarily for reentry heating) and the nose of the ship will be pointed mostly towards the sun, so very little heat is expected to reach the header tanks. That said, the propellant can be cooled either with a small amount of evaporation. Down the ...


2

Solar sails are generally envisioned from very lightweight reflective materials like aluminized mylar and this is what the Planetary Society vehicle used. This material is regularly used in multi-layer insulation (MLI) blankets which are on the outside of a great number of spacecraft. Structural degradation of these materials is slow but steady, even in ...


2

In the eighties there was this project 'Longshot' to go to Alpha Centauri B. Project Longshot was a conceptual design for an interstellar spacecraft, an unmanned probe, intended to fly to and enter orbit around Alpha Centauri B powered by nuclear pulse propulsion. It was expected to reach and start orbiting Alpha Centauri B in ~100 years. The ...


2

Allow me to try and describe to you that magnitude of this question The crux science here isn't necessarily genetic engineering, its ecological engineering with a comprehensive understanding of microbiology. To create a self sustaining environment as you describe is in reality synonymous with a self contained ecosystem. These are very hard to create (I've ...


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