New Space and Tech

Autonomous Restructuring Of Asteroids Into Rotating Space Stations

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
March 5, 2023
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Autonomous Restructuring Of Asteroids Into Rotating Space Stations
Space colony constructed from asteroid material — University of Rochester

Asteroid restructuring uses robotics, self replication, and mechanical automatons to autonomously restructure an asteroid into a large rotating space station.

The restructuring process makes structures from asteroid oxide materials; uses productive self-replication to make replicators, helpers, and products; and creates a multiple floor station to support a large population. In an example simulation, it takes 12 years to autonomously restructure a large asteroid into the space station. This is accomplished with a single rocket launch. The single payload contains a base station, 4 robots (spiders), and a modest set of supplies.

Our simulation creates 3000 spiders and over 23,500 other pieces of equipment. Only the base station and spiders (replicators) have advanced microprocessors and algorithms. These represent 21st century technologies created and trans-ported from Earth. The equipment and tools are built using in-situ materials and represent 18th or 19th century technologies.

The equipment and tools (helpers) have simple mechanical programs to perform repetitive tasks. The resulting example station would be a rotating framework almost 5 kilometers in diameter. Once completed, it could support a population of over 700,000 people. Many researchers identify the high launch costs, the harsh space environment, and the lack of gravity as the key obstacles hindering the development of space stations.

The single probe addresses the high launch cost. The autonomous construction eliminates the harsh space environment for construction crews. The completed rotating station provides radiation protection and centripetal gravity for the first work crews and colonists.

David W. Jensen

Comments: 65 pages, 53 figures, 25 tables
Subjects: Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Robotics (cs.RO)
Cite as: arXiv:2302.12353 [physics.pop-ph] (or arXiv:2302.12353v1 [physics.pop-ph] for this version)
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Submission history
From: David Jensen
[v1] Thu, 23 Feb 2023 22:18:20 UTC (4,380 KB)
High Frontier

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.