Dr. Robert E. Skelton (Texas A&M University)

September 26, 2016

Artificial Gravity, The Missing Technology in Space


Abstract: Going to the moon showed what was possible in our Space Program. But we skipped a cost effective step in the program by not building an Artificial Gravity Habitat. We spent 50 years in zero-g, and now we plan a three year trip to Mars in zero-g. Micro-g creates many health problems. The bone density decreases, and this is somewhat reduced by exercise. The higher intracranial pressure flattens to the eyeball, and this cannot be correct by exercise in space. Almost all astronauts experience vertigo upon returning to 1g. In other words, we are very far away from having the knowledge to permanently occupy space. How much g is required for health for adults? For children? Skipping the Habitat step in our space program sequence above leaves us with appetites for Moon and Mars without the educational and cost effective benefit an Artificial Habitat could have provided. We show how to design an efficient rotating space habitat to provide a variable g level from 0–1g. The minimal mass approach is to use tensegrity concepts to design the habitat, the control networks (CMGs inside the tensegrity units), infrastructure, and the living quarters. This project allows us to integrate structure and control design at a more fundamental level than possible before.


Bio: Dr. Robert E Skelton,
TEES Distinguished Research Professor,
Department of Aerospace Engineering
Department of Ocean Engineering
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
BS EE Clemson, MS EE University Alabama Huntsville, Ph.D. UCLA, Purdue (22 years), UCSD (Daniel Alspach Chair, 15 years), TAMU (TEES Distinguished prof, 1 year).
Research Focus: Integrating the disciplines of structure, signal processing, and control design. 12 years at Lockheed Missiles and Space Co and Sperry Rand, designing control systems for spacecraft. External review committee for Hubble Space Telescope repair missions. NASA NIAC Fellow . Invented Station-keeping buoys/UAV in deep seas, extracting electric power from wave energy. Designs lightweight, shape-controllable structures, autonomous construction of structures (habitats) in space. Created Systems and Control programs at Purdue and UCSD. He now is creating an interdisciplinary systems engineering program at TAMU. Fellow of AIAA, Fellow of IEEE, Fellow of Texas Institute for Advanced Studies, recipient of Norman Medal of ASCE. Visiting Springer Chair UCB, Alexander von Humboldt Award. Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Award. Member National Academy of Engineering, Member Clemson Academy of Engineering and Science. Member, The Academy of Medicine Engineering and Science of Texas.