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Gary Hudson, Tuesday, 5-29-12 May 30, 2012

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Gary Hudson, Tuesday, 5-29-12


Guest:  Gary Hudson.  Topic:  Variable gravity research station as a free flyer near the ISS.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed back Gary Hudson, President of the Space Studies Institute, to discuss the Space Studies Institute variable gravity research station program known as G-Lab.  You can read about G-Lab at http://ssi.org/2012/04/ssi-update-april-2012-introduction-to-g-lab.  To find out more about The Space Studies Institute, please visit http://ssi.org.  In our first segment, Gary Hudson provided us with an overview of the data points we have on the effect of microgravity on the human body dating back from the beginning of the space age.  If the goal is the permanent human expansion and settlement in space, we have very few if any data points, yet we need this information if we are to expand beyond short trips to the ISS or another turnaround lunar mission.  In terms of artificial gravity, we don’t know what levels humans require other than we know we are designed for 1 G.  As Gary pointed out several times during our discussion, the permanent settlement in space implies families, child birth, and the things that we do here on Earth but we are lacking any meaningful and relevant information to make this possible  The G-Lab concept is to be able to do long term properly designed centrifuge research in free flying labs around the ISS, doing animal studies in lunar, possibly Martian, and Earth gravity. The experiments would be long term, properly designed by researchers with NASA as well as other institutions.  Financing the project would be in segments and phases and involve the private sector & the public sector.  Mr. Hudson described five phases with the first three phases being privately funded while the last two a combination of public/private funding.  The Falcon Heavy is a possible launch vehicle but so are other launchers.

In our second segment, we started off with a listener question about a Space Review article suggestion the Dragon be used for microgravity experiments in support of a human Mars Mission.  You can read the article by Tom Hill at www.thespacereview.com/article/2089/1.  Gary commented on this but remained focused on their project supporting permanent settlement in space, not just a trip to Mars.  This is an important distinction so do listen to how Gary explains this difference.  Other listeners asked Gary questions based on other Space Show programs/guests dealing with genetic modification and the need to work with gravity here on Earth as we age.  Listeners suggested simpler experiments.  One person suggested using insects but Gary made it clear that animals with a backbone were essential for these studies.  As the segment was drawing to a close, Gary mentioned a few of the challenges other than funding including power, life support, human crew needs, keeping the lab animals healthy, and being able to carry out all the needed experiments.  We talked about funding and Gary mentioned philanthropic naming opportunities for the centrifuge labs just as donors name buildings at hospitals and universities here on Earth.  If you have comments/questions for Gary Hudson, please post them on the Space Show blog.

If you want to get in touch with Gary specifically for this project, you can e-mail him through their website by using the About tab, then selecting Officers and Board.


1. What work is being done to develop and test artificial gravity? | CL-UAT - December 28, 2014

[…] Hudson, president of SSI did a great podcast with David Livingstone of the Space Show, on this […]

2. Joe - May 31, 2012

First of all, God bless Gary Hudson! He is onto something that may happen someday.

Gary mentioned the restriction of producing variable gravity on the ISS because the micro-gravity experiments take precedence. This is an extremely difficult barrier to overcome, but it can be overcome. There are already 3 centrifuges operating on the ISS that produce vibrations that are transmitted to micro-gravity experiments. NASA claims they operate the ISS in three modes. One is micro-gravity experiment periods when no one is allowed to exercise or dock spacecraft or reboost the ISS. The others are crew health activities that include several hours of strenuous vibration producing exercises and ISS operational activities that include transient vibrational shocks to the micro-gravity experiments during reboost and dockings. The crew health and ISS operations takes precedence over micro-gravity experimentation. This is a fact that cannot be ignored.

The term micro-gravity for 24/7 does not exist aboard the ISS. It never has existed since they must reboost the ISS every few months and they dock and undock to it practically every month. Both types of these operations produce transient vibrations that are not conducive to micro-gravity experimentation. The astronauts also contribute heavily to vibrations during exercise periods. Imagine what happens to the micro-gravity experiments when the exercising astronauts accidently lets off of the tension bar while lifting it or their foot slips off the ergometer pedal and smacks into something or they trip on the treadmill. Even the vibration reduction mechanism on the treadmill does not satisfactorily reduce vibrations transmitted to the micro-gravity experiments via the ISS structure. These transient events do happen because people are just people that make mistakes. They just don’t talk about it for fear of the obvious disturbing repercussions. The micro-gravity experiments get what they get and they never complain since that eliminates them from the future funded experiment pool.

Since the goal is to only establish the fact that partial gravity exposure in vertebrate animals can stop or limit bone loss, the micro-gravity experiments are better suited for the free-flyer that TOTALLY eliminates all human and centrifuge produced vibrations. The micro-gravity experiments on the free-flyer can be tele-robotically controlled from the ground. This technology can be perfected on the ground and sent up to the free-flyer once it demonstrates acceptable performance just like they have done for the Robonaut experiment on the ISS.

It seems to me that the path of lease resistance is what will ultimately take place in establishing the discovery of the gravity remedy to stop bone loss. You are going to need humans to take care of rodents while experimenting on them in the ISS. Astronauts don’t get to fly until they agree to care for the rodents. For goodness sakes, all astronauts from day one accept the risk of riding a rocket into space and return inside of a fireball. What consideration are they going to give to caring for rodents? The micro-gravity proponents would love to run their experiments tele-robotically from the ground on the free-flyer instead of on the ISS. In any case, a free-flyer is still needed and is a great idea.

You could also help justify the free-flyer by proposing it as a dual usage way-station that stores extra fuel, critical parts, food, and medicine they desperately need on the ISS when resupply missions are delayed due to launch problems like they have experienced in the past. You pre-position a small tug on the free-flyer that is capable of flying a small distance to and from the ISS from the free-flyer. The tug can be tele-robotically operated from the ground during an emergency that brings the ISS their needed supplies.

3. Patrick Ritchie - May 31, 2012

Great show!

Unfortunately i only found this article on Dragonlab-G after the show:


The specifics don’t really apply to the a long term mission like G-Lab, but would be interested on your thoughts on tethered spacecraft as opposed to centrifuges.

My quick take:

– on the plus side you would get some data on human physiology in partial gravity
– on the down side you might need two separate labs, although it may be possible to put two modules on the same tether to simulate two different gravities

4. Gary Hudson’s Appearance on The Space Show Now Online | Space Studies Institute - May 30, 2012

[…] listen to the show, click here. Tagged with: David Livingston • G-Lab • Gary Hudson • SSI • The Space […]

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