International Space University MSS15 Team Projects


On May 21st, both ISU MSS teams presented their major findings of the Team Project (TP). As each year, one TP was more geared to a ‘Mission-to-Earth’ topic, a second one to a ‘Mission-from-Earth’.

The “Mission-to-Earth” TP focused on the challenges facing global freshwater management and the role that space could play in a Global Water Initiative. The team’s presentation showcases work from their “Blue Marble Report,” which compiles a ‘best practice’ guide to encourage and facilitate collaboration between the space and freshwater management communities.
The main topic of the presentation was of proposed interdisciplinary ‘best practices’ from the space sector which could be applied to global freshwater management. The team focused on solutions which could be utilized by countries experiencing conflict due to transboundary water sharing. The team concluded that conflict occurs when the securing of freshwater needs by a nation negatively impacts other nations who also use that resource.

The team then proposed three “scenarios” experienced by nations. These scenarios allow categorization of supply and demand solutions a nation could utilize:
1) Demand exceeds supply with no method to increase supply via alternative sources. The nation should improve efficiency by reducing, reusing and recycling available water resources.
2) Demand exceeds supply, however alternative sources are available but not usable. Nations should implement Scenario 1 methods and use space techniques to identify, utilize and manage alternative water resources.
3) Demands exceed supply, however there is the potential to increase supply from the shared resource. Nations should implement Scenario 1 and 2 methods and raise potential for negotiation through space contributions and examples from space.

A first group of solutions included spin-offs from technologies used in space, such as:
-    Closed loop systems based upon the experience in recent space stations
-    Water purification methods developed and operated on board of these stations
-    The use of other technologies such as desalination and atmospheric condensation.

A second category of solutions covered the use of space assets in order to, inter alia:
-    Monitor land-use
-    Monitor water quality
-    Identify water resources and underground water tables.

Another consideration was the use of experience coming from international space treaties and e.g. the functioning of ITU (International Telecommunications Union) in order to evaluate if this experience could be used for water-related international initiatives.
In order to ensure all possible solutions are effective, the presentation focused on outreach practices within the space sector which could be utilized for each of the three scenarios. Excellent examples of agency outreach and foundation initiatives were given, with some suggestions on how to bring this to the attention of decision makers.

In their project, the team strives to acknowledge and address the practical limitations of sharing space and freshwater, while also pushing toward the ideological rule set by nature which is that both space and water know no borders.

The second topic was a visionary one dealing with an Interstellar Worldship. This project was supported by I4IS.
Based upon previous studies, done by NASA and Stanford, a design was shown for a Worldship with a maximum capacity of 100,000 people, hence equivalent to a complete town. As the speed was set under 10% of the speed of light, it is clear that such interplanetary trip would take not only several decades, but even several generations (therefore an initial population of 10,000 people was estimated to cope with this).

In view of comfort on board, the team opted for a full-vehicle rotating design. According to the analysis, a surface of 160 m2 per person was estimated, which provides an idea of the overall dimensions of this endeavor.

A Torus structure with 10 rings was chosen, with a construction on the moon and assembly in space.

A number of assumptions were made, such as:
-    Vegetarian food only, to avoid the breeding of livestock
-    Maintenance by autonomous robots under supervision of specialized crew
-    Nuclear fusion as propulsion
-    Gravitational lenses for communication purpose
-    Pulsar based navigation systems
-    Extensive use of 3D printing
-    Highly standardized furniture and tools

The impact on psychological health was presented, including a number of recommendations and countermeasures such as precursor analog simulations. A practical solution for governance, legal and ethical aspects was discussed and solutions proposed.
An endeavor of this magnitude would require very important financial resources and a long preparation time, to be sure that all components would have reached the right TRL levels. It is also evident that investments of such nature cannot be carried by only one nation and therefore a priori could only be done in a framework of international cooperation. With a start-up International Interstellar Fund (IIF) in 2025, it was assumed on the basis of a very detailed timeline that a first test-ring could be made by 2150 to start the voyage by 2175.

More information on both projects can soon be found under the ISU library website, whereas those interested in a (very) long trip can find also some information under: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znE9dWI4rKw