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NASA Prepares For Space Surgery and Zero Gravity Blood

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the in-space-no-one-can-hear-you-choke-on-vomit dept.

Medicine 158

Hugh Pickens writes "Draining an infected abscess is a straightforward procedure on Earth but on a spaceship travelling to the moon or Mars, it could kill everyone on board. Now Rebecca Rosen writes that if humans are to one day go to Mars, one logistical hurdle that will need to be overcome is what to do if one of the crew members has a medical emergency and needs surgery. 'Based on statistical probability, there is a high likelihood of trauma or a medical emergency on a deep space mission,' says Carnegie Mellon professor James Antaki. It's not just a matter of whether you'll have the expertise on board to carry out such a task: Surgery in zero gravity presents its own set of potentially deadly complications because in zero gravity, blood and bodily fluids will not just stay put, in the body where they belong but could contaminate the entire cabin, threatening everybody on board. This week, NASA is testing a device known as the Aqueous Immersion Surgical System (AISS) that could possibly make space surgery possible. Designed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Louisville, AISS is a domed box that can fit over a wound. When filled with a sterile saline solution, a water-tight seal is created that prevents fluids from escaping. It can also be used to collect blood for possible reuse."

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Blood may not stay put in zero gravity (2)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576257)

but damn does it look cool and tasty in slow motion.

Re:Blood may not stay put in zero gravity (1)

ravenknight (1844930) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576331)

mmm, tasty pepto bismol.

Re:Blood may not stay put in zero gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577303)

But is it pinkish like Klingon blood when the Federation assassins do their dirty work with their magnetic boots stomping?

centrifuge (1)

pointyhat (2649443) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576301)

Why don't they use an artificial centrifuge for surgical procedures (2001 style)?

Re:centrifuge (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576379)

You mean the rotating space module twice the size of the entire ISS ? TFA is just a small reminder about the kind of state the whole 'space travel' thing is. Basically it is all just a big stunt and wishful thinking right now, despite of all the advancements we had over the years.

Re:centrifuge (5, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576489)

It's just stupid. They are wasting time and money doing research on crap like this when they should just spend it on building space stations with artificial gravity. You could do it with tethers and counterweights if you can't afford a huge space module.

So much research on the "problems of doing things wrong". You cannot have a sustainable human population in space without artificial gravity, so such "zero gravity" research is niche and near dead end for long term space travel.

Once you have artificial gravity and decent radiation shielding you can go to the asteroid belt which is a better choice than Mars since asteroids aren't huge gravity wells. It's not like Mars is a hospitable environment, so any talk of Mars is stupid at this point of time - it's like talking of jumping before you can even stand.

Re:centrifuge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576775)

Please calculate the size required to have negligible tidal effects. You know, since it's not actually gravity we're talking about here? Then please describe how you plan to keep this thing going from not wobbling itself out of position every time something or someone moves on this thing. Hmmm.

Re:centrifuge (2)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577151)

Why do you need negligible Coriolis effects? (I'm assuming that's what you mean, tidal effects require ridiculous amounts of mass) Sure, they'd make gymnastics a bit exciting, but if all you want is to have stuff stay where you put it then Coriolis effects are a non-issue. So what if things fall on a curved path? If people can get used to living on a ship at sea where "down" is continuously changing, sometimes quite violently, I'm sure they can get used to having to lean anti-spinward when standing up.

As for wobble - again, so what? Assuming the craft outmasses the occupants substantially any wobble will be a manageable nuisance. It's not like you'll be attaching the Hubble to this thing so that wobble renders it useless. In the case of transportation craft it could interefere with navigation a bit, but thrust would likely be either the current impulse style to maximize efficiency, in which case you just have everyone stand still during a burn, or with continuous low-thrust ion drives, in which case you simply track the current wobble against the stars and modulate thrust to avoid cumulative navigation errors.

For space stations it's even easier - a couple small asteroids tethered together and spun up and you've

Re:centrifuge (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577181)

Tidal effects merely means there will be a difference in the force felt at your feet vs your head.

"manageable nuisance"

Constant course corrections requiring fuel and very reliable thrusters.

"For space stations it's even easier - a couple small asteroids tethered together and spun up"

Oh, you're one of those

Re:centrifuge (2)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577981)

Studies actually have been done to find out what radius is required for comfortable spin "gravity". NASA did those too, in between useless fiddling around with zero g surgery. It does take a fairly large radius to eliminate enough of the tidal affect to avoid feeling sick because your head and your feet are moving at noticeably different speeds, but it's a manageable radius (unless you're too goddamn incompetent to build and use a heavy lift launch vehicle, in which case you're fucking around with zero g surgery instead).

As for your complaints about passenger-induced wobble, see the aforementioned heavy lift comment. Couple that with the fact that nobody seriously proposes moving a human-occupied spacecraft with full time thrust to get anywhere interesting in the solar system. Ion thrusters are irrelevant to that much mass, and chemical thrusters have strict fuel limits, so you don't boost all the time. You boost up to X speed, then go inertial. Deploy your tether, spin up, settle down for a long damn wait (to pretty much anywhere). Whatever wobble is induced while inertial is either undetectable (because you built an actual spacecraft, and not a tincan on a string you're calling a spacecraft) or can be reasonably compensated for with small attitude adjustment rockets. (But stop pretending a tincan with attitude adjustment rockets is a spacecraft You're gonna get people killed doing that)

When you get right down to it, NASA is great for research, but all of their construction efforts are laughable and they should stop pretending to build stuff and just stick with the research.

Re:centrifuge (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577635)

Why do you need negligible Coriolis effects?

The general rule of thumb is that human factors restrict you to an rpm of 2 or so (although I cannot find a good primary source for this). This paper [harvard.edu] suggests that people can get used to 23 rpm (!), which would mean you could do a Mars gravity in a single, decent sized, spacecraft. I must admit that I have some doubts about this. A 2 rpm Mars gravity would require a 85 meter tether. A 8 meter tether (or spacecraft) would suffice at 6 rpms, and I suspect that that would be more along the lines of what would be chosen. Astronauts would just have to get used to it in their training (or not go).

Re:centrifuge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577243)

Please read the part where it says tethers and counterweights. Y'know like bucket on a string.

As for wobbling out of position, what is out of position? It's still going to be spinning in space in roughly the same spot. Why should it be any different from moving your body in any other small spacecraft? If it causes significant movements then you've got a new propulsion method.

Re:centrifuge (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577063)

Even if we could build a large centrifuge in Earth orbit, we couldn't send it to Mars. In space, every kilo counts, and a centrifugal station just for operations is a huge overkill. Also, we will never have a sustainable human population in space for the simple reason that it's empty. Any population in space would have to rely on outside supplies of air, water, food etc.

Re:centrifuge (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577171)

Space is far from empty, it's full of stars and planets, nebulae and accretion discs. And measurable amounts of energy no matter where you are. We can only see stuff that either emits energy, reflects enough energy out way for us to measure or is near something doing one of the first two and we can see it's gravitational effects. Anything else we can't detect, it doesn't mean there isn't more out there.
What space is: "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space." Well, in truth we don't even know how big it is.

Re:centrifuge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577209)

"Well, in truth we don't even know how big it is."

It's bigger than anything we can practically do anything about. You're delusional if you think space is anything like the stuff depicted in sci-fi. Space is empty for all practical purposes.

Re:centrifuge (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577489)

Space is empty for all practical purposes.

Well, ordinary matter is empty for all practical purposes too. That doesn't stop it from having mass and large scale physical properties. Similarly, space is empty, well except for all those place like the Moon, Mars, the Sun, and even Earth which make even empty for all practical purposes vastly different than truly empty space.

Re:centrifuge (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577297)

Who said anything about building a large centrifuge?

I said tethers and counterweights. Put a module on one end of a few strong cables and a counterweight on the other. And then set it spinning.

You can get your supplies from the asteroids. There are some with lots of water. Some with lots of ore.

Re:centrifuge (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577235)

A couple big problems with this. Mostly due to the required low-ish orbit of any space station.

First, the ISS and the astronauts and equipment on it are not actually in zero-gravity. They are in free-fall. They are all orbiting the earth in very similar, but not perfectly identical, orbits. That's why equipment and such can drift away from where it is released. This actually causes some tidal stresses for large objects separated by distance such as the ISS panels and main structure. God knows what kinds of additional stresses would be introduced if you tried to spin the whole damn thing within that kind of frame of reference.

Second, any space station in an accessible orbit is low enough that it experiences atmospheric drag. Not a lot, but enough that the ISS needs to be boosted a couple times a year in order to keep its orbit from degrading. Left on its own it would come back down to earth in fairly short order. It would be way harder to boost spinning objects accurately.

For these kinds of problems to be minimized the station would need to be in a much higher orbit. MUCH higher. High enough that accessing it becomes non-trivially harder and more expensive. Every station trip would be as costly and risky as the Hubble repair mission was.

Re:centrifuge (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577339)

Whatever it is, doing research into finding and solving those problems sure seems more worthwhile than the near "dead end" research they're doing.

There are many things depending on gravity: http://www.space.com/4302-stresses-immune-organs.html [space.com]
Just too much trouble trying to live long term without it.

And as far I see if we can build spacecraft that can cope with 3g, we should be able to build a spinning "bucket"+cables+"counterweight" that can cope with 1g (from spinning) plus some tidal forces.

Re:centrifuge (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577723)

Before attempting rocket propulsion, it is helpful to learn to walk. This research isnt dead-end, its just part of a very long path that gets us further into space.

Re:centrifuge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41578459)

Why do you think this is 'near "dead end" research'? Surely a sterile self-contained environment that goes over a wound could be used as part of a mobile operating theatre, sounds like it could be useful on Earth as well as in space to me.

Re:centrifuge (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#41578551)

Exactly. There's enormous potential applications for something like this on Earth. It's hardly a "dead end" and having additional tools available to us in Zero-G is hardly a bad thing.

Re:centrifuge (2)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577387)

Interesting comments, but two things to consider:

1) You don't need to rotate the entire vehicle, just a small module inside it to provide a little artificial gravity when needed.

2) The problems have been worked out long ago. Hubble and spy satellites use gyros to aim the vehicle [hubblesite.org] at whatever is being imaged. It's a very cool system, just transfer momentum between the gyros and the vehicle whenever you need to point it, takes almost no energy to move even a huge telescope.

Re:centrifuge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577429)

God knows what kinds of additional stresses would be introduced if you tried to spin the whole damn thing within that kind of frame of reference.

I'm sure God does, but Engineers know, too. You wouldn't spin ISS up, of course, as it's not designed for it, but it's not hard to calculate the loading and allow for it in a new design. The tidal forces are actually quite small compared to the centripetal forces from spinning it, but none of it's hard; just makes the station more massive, thus more expensive to launch. If it permits less-frequent crew rotations, it could be worthwhile.

Re:centrifuge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41579153)

Which do you think is easier? Landing on Mars, or constantly navigating a field of asteroids while deflecting any small incoming debris? Which do you think is cheaper? A mission to mars (and back) or building a space station with artificial gravity?

Look, I agree we need the artificial gravity, but your "jumping before you can even stand" remark is fucking dumb, man.

Re:centrifuge (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577345)

You miss the real point of the problem. NASA is PR first and foremost. We didn't go the the moon to "do" anything, other than plant a USA flag and hit some golf balls. The Space Race was PR, and nothing more. NASA is still hung up on that, and is very risk averse as an organization (even if some people inside it make stupid mistakes, leading to shuttle "accidents" that could have been avoided). Dead astronauts are very bad PR, so NASA takes more steps than necessary to protect life, when everyone going to space knows the risks and accepts them.

If someone needed treatment for an abscess and could "infect" the whole cabin, that sounds like something that a little bleach and antibiotics could treat, rather than millions on new surgical techniques. There are likely 10,000 ways to "fix"the problem for 1/10,000th the cost that carry unidentifiable small increase in risk, which aren't being considered because *any* risk is unacceptable.

Re:centrifuge (1)

dhammond (953711) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576441)

This was my first thought too. It might make sense to assume that some sort of artificial gravity will be a requirement for manned deep space travel. I mean, let alone the advantages for surgery and all the other things we do on earth that are made easier with gravity, but it would probably have a profound impact on the overall health of the travelers.

spin (0)

cellurl (906920) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576309)

why dont they create artificial gravity?

All SciFi books have this, why doesn't NASA?

Help eliminate stupid speeding tickets. [wikispeedia.org]

Are we on the wrong path? (2)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576317)

Robots and rovers are becoming so good that I think we should take all that manned mission to Mars money and re-purpose it to exploring Mars, and Titan, and Jupiter's moons with machines.

The only viable manned missions that I can see right now would be "one way tickets", and the politicians are too squeamish for those.

So, rovers and flying drones, or boats for Titan are the best way to go at the moment.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576413)

Robots are becoming so good that I think we should take all that manning of Martha money and re-purpose it to exploring Mary, and Tina, and July's moons with machines.

The only viable manning missions that I can see right now would be "one way rubbers", and the politicians are too squeamish for those.

So, raunchy flying dildos, or boobs for Tina are the best way to go at the moment.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576481)

We dare not question the old paradigm of "wooden ships and iron men" because, well, drama.

We need robots on Earth, and since every task in space is dangerous and since humans are a burden to support, there is no functional reason for the desperate rush to send people.

We should perfect machines before sending tourists. We have time.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577189)

We need robots on Earth, and since every task in space is dangerous and since humans are a burden to support, there is no functional reason for the desperate rush to send people.

Except there's also the usual procrastination problem. If we don't start now, when we already are very capable of doing so, then when will the better time come along, if ever?

We should perfect machines before sending tourists.

Why? We didn't wait for perfect machines before we built an industrial civilization. Tourists who visit dangerous places, like Mt. Everest, don't wait for perfect machines either.

We have time.

Do you expect to be alive when either humans land on Mars or machines are perfected? If not, then you don't have the time.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577193)

Except for the fact that our robots still pretty much suck when it comes to versatility - in a few days a single human on foot could have done everything one of the Rovers did in it's entire mission, plus more. And humans are a lot cheaper to make than robots. As long as there are competent explorers and adventurers in the world willing to give their lives to discover new frontiers the only real argument for robots is that they are cheaper to ship, and much of that expense is incurred just getting from the surface to orbit, which is an area where more development is definitely called for - at the moment I think the Airship-to-Orbit project is the only one that doesn't call for massive up-front expenditures, and I have my doubts about the viability of a hypersonic airship, even in the extremely sparse upper atmosphere.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (2)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577265)

The Apollo15 crew covered more ground and did managed to make far more observations in 3 days than Spirit could in 5 years. Humans are still much more efficient explorers than robots, provided we can get them to their destination.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 2 years ago | (#41578001)

A robot built to the size and mass of the Apollo landing system is a helluva lot more capable than Spirit too. Make this comparison again after MSL has been in operation for a while, and see what the results are. I suspect the gap will be narrowed considerably. Not that I have anything against astronauts. I like astronauts. Being nosy, in person, is part of being human, so have at it. Just saying, The Apollo missions had a serious mass advantage.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576853)

It's like deciding to have a baby. It's never the right time, you'll never have enough money... You just have to jump in with both feet at some point and say "fuck it" The entire point of what we do in space is to eventually send real people. We aren't going to get any better at that, until we send them. Will people die? You bet. There's nothing wrong with that. Many in this world long for the days when there were things you could still do that risked everything but rewarded the successful with glory unimagined in this day and age. Let those that dream of glory risk it all to better mankind. It's more immoral to chain them to this earth than let them reach for the stars on waxen wings.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (1)

slashping (2674483) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577043)

Why not wait a few hundred or thousand years ? There's absolutely no rush to send fragile humans in a tin can to Mars where there will be nothing but inhospitable wasteland waiting for them. It's much smarter to keep sending robots until Mars is actually a pleasant place to stay. Robots are much, much cheaper, and can be deployed a lot faster too.

Re:Are we on the wrong path? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41578855)

"The entire point of what we do in space is to eventually send real people"

If we wait 100 years, the differences between "robots" and "people"will be so small that this will be a moot point. The star-trek like future where organic meat-bags fly around in artificial gravity is silly. We'll have the tech to upload human minds long before we have the tech to manipulate the higgs field.

If you plan on deep space expeditions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576347)

You should start making plans for emulated gravity through rotational innertia type of vessels. The wasting of resources on this stupid, mindless, Zero-G mental masterbation project, is exactly why I do not feel even a little sorry for NASA's funding being cut. We don't need their bloated, bullshit projects. They are not making any advances.

Re:If you plan on deep space expeditions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576417)

Don't get me wrong, Yes, they did make progress before, decades ago, but now, private industry is indeed the way to go. And even then, because of their beurocrats and inneficiencies, NASA cut corners and got people killed. Granted, people get killed, and we should expect that in such projects, but as Feynman demonstrated while on the oversight committee, their particular fuckups, were unacceptable, and could have been fully avoided. NASA is just coming up with BS projects to get funds and keep their buracrats and the few remaining scientists on the payroll.

Re:If you plan on deep space expeditions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577007)

"beurocrats "??? People who advocate the use of butter????

Re:If you plan on deep space expeditions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577407)

> talks about manned deep space expeditions.
> calls research into zero gravity medicine "stupid mindless mental masturbation."

You realize that sending a live human into space will require... you know, actual live humans, right? And that actual live humans often have issues with their bodies that can - and even MUST - be corrected surgically? And that if you send actual live humans off into space without any means of correcting the very real and quite probably issues that might require surgery to correct, you might as well just say "fuck the manned expditions, it's not even worth it?"

With all due respect... there's a reason why the NASA scientists are working at NASA, and you're sitting here shouting about their choices in research projects like an ignorant rube on Slashdot.

Rotate the frakking spacecraft (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576403)

The ability of humans to perform well on the surface of any planet after months of zero-g seems doubtful. Build the spacecraft big enough, and rotate it. Better yet, send two spacecraft, tether them together, and rotate both of them about their center of mass. It will solve a lot more problems than the relatively minor one of dealing with in-space surgery.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (3, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576425)

Why rotate. Nuclear powered spacecraft could simply keep accelerating at 1G until it was time to turn around and decelerate at 1G. Problem solves, and they would get there a lot quicker too.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (3, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576717)

Why rotate. Nuclear powered spacecraft could simply keep accelerating at 1G until it was time to turn around and decelerate at 1G. Problem solves, and they would get there a lot quicker too.

Because we don't have anything like the energy density required to do that (at least for times longer than microseconds, i.e., nuclear bombs).

Energy density drives the engineering here. If we had enough energy density, we could soup up ion rockets or use nuclear thermal and get to places very fast.

Make or find a ton of antimatter or so, and let's talk.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

Nationless (2123580) | more than 2 years ago | (#41578709)

Spaceship powered by a constant stream of exploding nuclear bombs? I'd love to watch that liftoff. From underneath a wooden desk.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577731)

Project Rho has a convenient chart [projectrho.com] that will illustrate the infeasibility of such trajectories for all current (NERVA-like or gas-core) designs.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

MrChips (29877) | more than 2 years ago | (#41578519)

Why rotate. Nuclear powered spacecraft could simply keep accelerating at 1G until it was time to turn around and decelerate at 1G. Problem solves, and they would get there a lot quicker too.

Not sure how close we are technologically to doing something like this, but Earth to Mars would only be a day or two. Think about how much less life support (food, water, etc.) needs to be sent along with the crew if the transit is that short. Also, if you're going to Mars, why not do .33G (Mars gravity equivalent) instead. Or start at 1G and slowly drop to .33G. Then there's little to no adaptation required when you get there.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576453)

Although rotation could work, it would require a really big craft in order to work. Have you folks ever used a clothes washing machine? No, not at some laundromat, at home. And not the ones that have the door on the front - I mean the top loaders. Ever had it go out of balance due to maybe a water thirsty blanket or something? So, if your craft's center of gravity varies by more than a little bit you introduce wobble. That can't be good. I imagine you would already have tens or hundreds of attitude jets, but you still need to keep the balance close or they will use all of your fuel trying to keep the wobble down.

Wobbling is not a problem... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576507)

The problem with the washing machines is the forced center of rotation.

In a freely rotating system (such as two bodies attached) the center moves. As long as this doesn't cause extreme forces on one or the other body, this isn't a problem.

All that happens is the more massive body makes a smaller loop, while the less massive body makes a larger loop. The axis of rotation just moves along the connection between them.

Only becomes a problem if a designated center point is also the propulsion center...

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577409)

You have adjustable lengths. When a wobble is felt, you adjust the lengths to put the system into balance again, all fixed, under 1s time to fix.

Oh, and your washer sucks. I remember our "cheap" one from the 70s. It had a balance detector. When the wobble was too big, it would shut down the spin cycle early. And you do realize that the spin cycle was many times faster than what will be seen on a space station, right? And going to a front loader fixes everything, at about a 20% penalty to cost. You even acknowledge that we've solved the problem you are talking about, yet think we'd build a space station without thinking about it, if the AC hadn't come to the rescue? Really? You must be the smartest person in your really really small town.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

csumpi (2258986) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576483)

"""two spacecraft, tether them together, and rotate both of them"""

And you don't think that would create new problems? For example complicating navigation to avoid space junk? Or throwing up every time you look out the window?

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576583)

1) Moving the spinning thing is not a huge problem
2) One solution - no windows. Or use cameras. Nuclear submariners do fine without windows. I bet they are better suited to space than pilots (so most of that NASA research into humans living in long term confined environments was probably a waste too - the nuclear submariners have been doing it for years).

And at least research into building space stations/ships with artificial gravity is going to be more useful in the long run. You're not going to have humans long term in space sustainably - reproducing, living etc without artificial gravity.

In contrast research into space surgery in zero g is a waste of time and resources- this and most zero g research is basically like researching into dealing with bad stuff because you keep doing things wrong in the first place.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577069)

1) Moving the spinning thing is not a huge problem

The reason we haven't set up spinning habitats in space is because of weight.
If you want something to spin, it must be strong. Strength means weight and weight means cost and the cost is prohibitively high or we'd have done it already.

In contrast research into space surgery in zero g is a waste of time and resources- this and most zero g research is basically like researching into dealing with bad stuff because you keep doing things wrong in the first place.

The human body keeps doing things wrong in the first place.
Things like appendicitis, ingrown hairs/nails, wax build up in your ears, and a thousand other things that happen.
How did this nonsense get modded up?

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577253)

"How did this nonsense get modded up?"

In any space-related story, there is a significant amount of people who ardently believe sci-fi is real. Any mention of reality, or physics, or engineering is met with derision. Go on, take a look at some of the more spectacular posts in here. It's sad.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577273)

Look up tether in a dictionary. Have you seen a suspension bridge before? Those skinny cables sure can hold a lot of weight. And if we can build spacecraft that can survive 3g we should be able build a space module that can survive 1g spinning without falling apart.

How did your nonsense get modded up?

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577525)

Have you seen a suspension bridge before? It's constantly being maintained and inspected... Idiot.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577593)

Have you seen a suspension bridge before?

You mean like the Golden Gate Bridge, with 36 inch thick main cables, and 3.5 inch thick "suspension" cables? A bridge like that? A bridge that has zero rotational stresses on it? Have you ever tried picking up a suspension bridge by one of its cables and spinning it around by that cable? What do you think would happen?

How exactly are you going to dock your spinning tethered bullshit with anything else, or control it in a landing, or even keep it withstanding the forces produced by simulating 1G through a spin? To simulate 1G at the outside of a 100 meter RADIUS ring/cylinder, you'd have to rotate that 200m diameter ring roughly 3 times per minute. And you'd have to make sure that the mass of the 200m craft was absolutely centered, or you'd introduce a wobble, which will put all kinds of unforeseen stress on your structural members, the tether, and the anchor points. This means that the movement of everything inside the craft must be calculated and adjusted for constantly, in realtime, in order to keep things from spinning out of control and damaging the craft.

Practical matters: how will you replace the tether in flight? On a long space flight, it WILL wear down as varying stresses are applied to it caused by minute wobbles in the rotation of the craft. Wait until it snaps, and both ends of your craft go flying off in opposite directions, out of control... so you have to have people who can go out and manage to replace / repair it while it's still connected, and while it's still spinning. And god forbid any slack get put into the tether during that maneuver, as several multi-ton end points moving fast enough to simulate 1G jerk the slack tight...

Yeah, clearly, your ideas are well thought-through and you're smarter than NASA. After all, if you can imagine it, there's surely no reason they can't build it.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577715)

" After all, if you can imagine it, there's surely no reason they can't build it."

THIS is the biggest problem with Space Nutters.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577461)

If you want something to spin, it must be strong. Strength means weight and weight means cost and the cost is prohibitively high or we'd have done it already.

Most human habitable things have to be "strong" anyway to survive launch and holding pressure against vacuum.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577147)

Going to Mars won't be like going to the moon. They are going to need to come up with some kind of artificial gravity and probably a faster way than the same chemical rockets that we use to get to LEO.

This is why Earth needs to build a research craft, put it in space and dock it at the ISS. This could be used to test new propulsion and artificial gravity, among the other things they will need to work out before trying to go to Mars.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577453)

In contrast research into space surgery in zero g is a waste of time and resources- this and most zero g research is basically like researching into dealing with bad stuff because you keep doing things wrong in the first place.

I thought the same until I realized that sometimes artificial gravity isn't available. Maybe your ship is broken or maybe you're on a ship too small to sustain artificial gravity (for example, some sort of "escape pod" or lifeboat).

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577517)

Almost anyone can survive weightlessness for a few days. If you're going to spend months in space lifeboat you're already dead, unless you can freeze yourself.

It's like doing research into not needing water in the long term. Sure we can do without water for a day or two. But why waste time researching into doing without water for months, when the better solution is just to supply potable water?

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#41578631)

What if the rotational section breaks down and you need to perform surgery? These two events are pretty well connected to each other - a potential mechanical failure in the rotational section, even repairable, might also cause an injured crewman. You would want to be able to do surgery or minor surgical procedures in zero or low gravity, because you might not be able to repair the rotation for some time.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577433)

Or throwing up every time you look out the window?

Why would that happen? I figure anyone that delicate probably would be chucking every time they move their head around.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577101)

It will solve a lot more problems than the relatively minor one of dealing with in-space surgery.

Tethering also *introduces* a lot of problems too. Now the systems need to work at zero-G as well as whatever G load in induced by the tether. Mobility within the spacecraft equally becomes difficult for the same reasons. Making course correction burns becomes infinitely more difficult as you need to exit the tethered and rotating state, perform the burn, and re-tether and spin up. (Also adding multiple failure modes to the process.) Thermal control becomes more difficult since pointing control becomes astronomically more difficult. (Which also effects communications as well.)
 
tl;dr version: Tethering is difficult and adds more problems than you might think - it's no panacea. TANSTAAFL.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577577)

You don't need to exit the rotating state to do course corrections. You don't even need rockets on both ends, but that would be best.

As far as thermal control and communications, etc., are concerned, remember that there is over 54 years of experience with spin-stabilized spacecraft. The things you are worried about have solutions dating from decades ago. (Note, by the way, that Apollo voyaged in "rotisserie mode," where it spun about its long axis, to spread the thermal load around. If you decide to do this sort of thing, it will offer engineering advantages as well as challenges.)

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (2)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577113)

To achieve 1g through rotation (at a speed low enough that you don't get adverse effects) you need a radius of 225 m, so the two spacecraft would be half a km apart. That would make moving between the two a pain: it means either a spacewalk or a rigid tunnel between the two, and you'd be moving against gravity - a half-km climb is no picnic. You'd be better off making one of the spacecraft a dumb weight with maybe an engine cluster on it for maneuvering.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577485)

The tethered spacecraft plans I have seen for Mars have as a design goal 1 Mars gravity, not 1 Earth gravity. As that is 0.379 of an Earth gravity, and as a = Omega**2 R, and as Omega is bounded by human factors, that makes the tether 85 meters, which is a lot better. The basic tether should mass a kilogram or less, so there could be lots of redundancy there.

It is a reasonable bet that, if you had 2 spaceships tethered together like this, the crews wouldn't be visiting each other very often in flight. But, the relative velocity would be only 35 meters/sec, so, if they had to, they could. And, they could do high bandwidth video (trivial over 85 meters) whenever they felt like it.

Or, you could, as you suggest, lose some redundancy and put the crew on one side, and "not needed on voyage" stuff on the other.

Re:Rotate the frakking spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577869)

You could use a sling from the midpoint -- push off one side, coast around, bump against the other side.

A dumb weight (or the reactor+radiators) still makes more sense, but there's no need for climbing to center..

Take one for the team (4, Funny)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576443)

They should launch more crew members than they need, with the assumption that the ones that require surgery en route will be chucked out the airlock.

Re:Take one for the team (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576469)

Chucked out the airlock? It would make more sense to recycle any remains to keep those resources in the loop.

Ah... the commercial approach. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576523)

If you assume there will only be 4 at arrival, you can send 10... and the 4 each the others.

Saves on food and other resources too.

Re:Ah... the commercial approach. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576535)

Soylent reference in 3, 2, 1....

Re:Ah... the commercial approach. (1)

Linsaran (728833) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576623)

Soylent space is full of people?

Yeah, that's right (5, Funny)

fa2k (881632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576551)

"My job is rocket surgery!"

I'm a doctor, Jim, not a brick layer! (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576785)

Or, I am the EM-1 Emergency Medical Holograph. Please state your emergency.

Re:I'm a doctor, Jim, not a brick layer! (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577319)

I think you'll find it is: "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

Re:Yeah, that's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41578729)

Oh yeah? Well I'm a brain scientist!

Oh, wait...

Half full perspective... (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576557)

Considering surgery in space is good omen. At the very least, Someone is planning to be there one day.

Re:Half full perspective... (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576601)

How would space surgery be funded? Not socialist government medicine I hope? Without obscene profits to some rights holders, it shouldn't be allowed.

Re:Half full perspective... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577793)

Man, slashdot sure does like its strawmen.

I challenge you to find anyone on ANY end of the political spectrum who is opposed to the government caring for its military or NASA staff when they are injured on-duty. I seem to recall that the right stereotypically likes the military, so I think youll have no luck there.

A Better Solution (1)

Pyrotech7 (1825500) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576585)

It seems to me that any mission taking months of time, would use some kind of artificial gravity. Artificial gravity would be needed for the astronauts health and muscle tone as well as medical emergencies requiring surgery.

Research:
"help ward off the debilitating loss of muscle and bone due to weightlessness on long missions" [space.com]
Here is the physics:
Simulated Gravity with Centripetal Force [regentsprep.org]

Does anyone know of plans for the Mars mission (what kind of vehicle will be used)?

Re:A Better Solution (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576997)

Does anyone know of plans for the Mars mission (what kind of vehicle will be used)?

You need to look at the Design Reference Mission [nasa.gov] - see also this presentation on the Design Reference Architecture [nasa.gov] 5.0. These aren't exactly plans, but they are a fairly fleshed out mission design, to get people something specific to refer to and a benchmark to research against. If you look at DRM 7.1.2, it talks about artificial gravity, but basically puts this as "to be determined."

This Is Why NASA Is a Lost Cause (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41576605)

NASA waste too much time and money on safety. Preparing for surgery in space is like saying, "What if somebody has a medical emergency on a tarns-Atlantic flight and needs surgery? We must prepare for this eventuality! Every flight should have at least three surgeons on bored specialising in different fields to ensure the safety of passengers!"

Everybody realises having surgeons on aeroplanes would be a waste of money, and if you need surgery while on a long flight that's just bad luck and you die. NASA should take the same attitude with space flight rather than wasting money preparing for unlikely events. If you're going to prepare for every possible eventuality you'll never get anywhere. Unfortunately that's what NASA seem to be doing (preparing for every eventuality while achieving pretty much nothing). At this point I wouldn't be surprised if they started equipping astronauts with bullet proof jackets just encase a crazed gunman stowed away on the launch and tried to shoot the crew.

Re:This Is Why NASA Is a Lost Cause (1)

DL117 (2138600) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576995)

If someone needs surgery on a trans-atlantic flight, they divert to the nearest airport near a hospital, which would usually be under one hour and rarely more than three. Most surgical conditions can wait 1-3 hours.

You can't wait 1-3 months though, as you would if a spacecraft needed to turn around

Re:This Is Why NASA Is a Lost Cause (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577721)

This isn't even about the lack of surgery, but an unknown increase in risk for others, should one take place. Rather than identifying the risk and mitigating it (is it only from infected blood touching the bulkheads?, or microscopic blood pieces being respirated?), the solution is to spend billions eliminating the risk. If the "solution" was as simple as put everyone in "disposable" surgery suits, then after the surgery, everyone goes on a spacewalk while the inside is sterilized with high-power UV or a toxic aerosol, would that be cheaper than the surgery-box?

Then do the work to get that certified for space flight. Cheaper, easier, more reliable, and available now, with no development cost.

Re:This Is Why NASA Is a Lost Cause (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#41578667)

This isn't even about the lack of surgery, but an unknown increase in risk for others, should one take place. Rather than identifying the risk and mitigating it (is it only from infected blood touching the bulkheads?, or microscopic blood pieces being respirated?), the solution is to spend billions eliminating the risk. If the "solution" was as simple as put everyone in "disposable" surgery suits, then after the surgery, everyone goes on a spacewalk while the inside is sterilized with high-power UV or a toxic aerosol, would that be cheaper than the surgery-box?

Then do the work to get that certified for space flight. Cheaper, easier, more reliable, and available now, with no development cost.

Unexpectedly respirated blood or infectious fluids is a pretty serious problem. Most of the worst diseases you can get are the result of normally fairly harmless bacteria getting into unusual places in the body.

Re:This Is Why NASA Is a Lost Cause (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41579131)

Unexpectedly respirated blood or infectious fluids is a pretty serious problem.

Hence why I explicitly put it in the risks list. But they didn't explicitly state it as one, so I don't know if it was that or something else/additional. Masks do a good job of blocking things, and they should be used in just about all cases anyway, both to protect the wearer and to protect the patient.

I'd hope the problem was worse than just that, otherwise they are working on a multi-billion dollar fix to save them $3 on a dozen disposable paper masks.

Contamination has happened before (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#41576763)

I have heard that in the early days of the space program, they flushed human waste out of the ships. Subsequently, one day when they were working in the space shuttle, they found grime (from the waste) basically lining the cargo hold. Of course, that wasn't in a pressurized cabin at temperatures conducive to bacterial growth...

Niven solved it. (1)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577025)

Just put 'em in the autodoc.

Right answer to the wrong question (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577099)

The question is not "how can we learn to do a thousand difficult tasks in zero gee?", but "how can we provide artificial gravity so we don't have to?" We've spent tens of billions of dollars learning to do everything imaginable in microgravity, and mere millions trying to develop a workable centrifugal gravity system for long-duration spaceflight. And Robert Zubrin, divisive as he is, is probably right about why: there's an entire industry of NASA scientists working on solving microgravity problems, and they're not interested in solutions which make their work irrelevant.

Toothpaste Tube (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41577123)

Like trying to put the cap back on a toothpaste tube with an elephant stepping on it.
Freeze the ham. Clamp the veins. Exchange blood for some acceptable goop - machine regulated. Plasticize the trauma area.
Also, anyone ever see those conformable suction fabric-covered membrane robot actuators? They were all over the news a while ago. One wsa made with sand and cloth with a suction tube. Could help, maybe? Could have an overlaid vitamin K efferent network? Like those diffusion vests that allows breathing buried under snow. Old hat, by now.

Ah NASA (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577333)

Ah NASA, always choosing the most complicated method for something with a hundred simple solutions. Suctioning the surgery area is something that is has been done for decades here on earth, it would probably need minimal modifications for use in space. As far as free floating blood just put a high flow cotton air filter next to the wound. That should collect most free floating fluids, and if a few get loose so what? Its blood not Plutonium-238? The only real advantage I can see with this is that it would help limit blood loss and POSSIBLY allow use of any blood that did escape. But for 99% of the surgeries that would likely be required in space the minimal amount of blood loss wouldn't deed to be replaced anyway.

Re:Ah NASA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41578259)

Ah space nutters, always assuming that the highly paid, very experienced engineers at NASA are simply "complexicating" the work because they don't know any better than an armchair idiot.

Let's think about the problems:

1) Suction: what happens when the person gets an arterial laceration? You going to just keep suctioning until all the blood is out of their body? What will you replace it with? How will you get it back in them without cutting them open to clamp off the artery? We're not talking about "oh i got a paper cut on my thumb," we're talking about potential life-threatening trauma. A seal that can get over the wound and essentially withstand enough back-pressure to prevent the person bleeding out? That'd be pretty amazing even in earth-bound medicine.

2) Free floating blood. In zero gravity. In an environment that's FULL of delicate and sensitive electronics. With no close-by repair shop. What's the worst that can go wrong? "Hey you remember that paper cut, where a few drops of blood floated off into the ductwork? Yeah well, one of them apparently landed on a control board, and shorted something out, and the other is actually frozen and got sucked into one of our delicate air intake valves, and now our systems are malfunctioning and we have 6 hours to live. Thanks for that."

For 99% of the surgeries that would likely be required in space the minimal amount of blood loss wouldn't need to be replaced anyway.

AND... thanks for confirming that you're a complete fucking idiot who has no idea how much blood loss a typical surgery involves. Maximum "allowable" blood loss tends to be about 40%-ish before you're in the "get the crash carts, plug as many fluids as we can into this guy, and pray to god that we can find the bleeding and stop it in the next 30 seconds, because otherwise, he's dead," category.

Over 15% of the body's blood, and actual physiological signs start showing up very noticeably. This means ~0.8 liters of blood loss is "allowable" before you have to start giving fluids and worrying about complications. Now, consider that any spacecraft is not going to be as well equipped as a modern trauma center, with material, replacement blood, or staff to help out. Who's going to hold the suction device? Who's going to assist with the surgery? Who's going to administer replacement blood? Who's going to do ALL of this stuff, while the patient bleeds out? Doesn't really take very long to bleed out from a cut to a major artery... and sooner or later, on a long space flight, this WOULD happen. Or somebody would develop cancer, and need surgery to remove a tumor. Or somebody would develop kidney stones, gall stones, or something else, that would require major surgery. And you think a single guy is going to be able to perform surgery and hold some sort of cotton sponge or suction device and administer anaesthetic & replacement blood from some nonexistent supply of replacement blood?

Jesus you're thick.

From one of the co-founders of model rocketry... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41579189)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._Harry_Stine [wikipedia.org] , who also worked at White Sands back in the 1950's and published fiction under the pen name "Lee Correy", gave plenty of other good examples in a novel "Space Doctor":
1) how do you get the bubbles out of a syringe in zero-g?
2) how do you keep the doctor close to the patient for any procedure that involves exerting force against the patient (intubation, chest compressions, ...) while still leaving the patient unencumbered enough for the doctor to access whatever parts of the body they need to get to?
3) how do you do an IV "drip" when zero-g doesn't let anything drip?
and tons more.

He's got two great responses for all the yahoos here who think the answer is to never, ever let people get more than an hour or two away from Mercedes-luxury spaceships or stations:
1) accountants. ('Nuff said?)
2) industrialization. Stop with the limited-vision thinking that the frontier of space is only accessible to a privileged few. Like the frontier of the New World was once accessible only to those financed by kings and queens then eventually tackled by lesser-heeled merchants, one day the frontier of space will also house industrial construction workers and some version of oil field workers (sent there by merchants, of course). Blue-collar workers will be out there mining for rare minerals or building solar energy collectors so we can feed new resources in to keep growing our world economy and, as always, they will be driving the equivalent of Ford trucks and living in the equivalent of mobile homes because it's industrial construction and field work, durn it.

If mankind is to keep growing and avoid Malthusian predictions then we'll need to grow into the space frontier and that won't happen without an ability to live in zero-g and micro-micro-gravity for months on end and more than two hours away from our earthly cradle.

Useless until it's bigger (1)

i286NiNJA (2558547) | more than 2 years ago | (#41577713)

Needs to be large enough to remove alien parasites

There aren't going to be any Mars missions. (1)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 2 years ago | (#41578821)

Every single time a story about manned Mars or Moon missions comes up here on Slashdot I am compelled to remind everyone that there are going to be no manned Mars or Moon missions in the next 50 years. The only entities that could do it (theoretically) are the federal governments of the USA, the former Soviet Union (which still exists as far a space exploration goes), and China (people's republic of, if you one of those people who still insist that there are two Chinas).
      All these governments are broke or broken. The Americans are completely broke, so much that for most the past 30 years they have had to borrow money to pay for their government expenditures. They talk a lot of trash, but when it comes time to cut Medicare, war budgets, or bail-outs to banks too-big-to-fail in order free up the funds to send people to Mars, well, it's just not going to happen. They are broke and have too many more important commitments.
    The Russians are broke also. And they are living on resource extraction and sales to Europe, the USA, and China. They will deliver people to the space station, but that's the last stop on the railroad line.
    The Chinese are in space for the 'me, too' glory of it. They MIGHT send a man to the moon in order to show the world that they can do what the Americans did 60 years ago (it will be at least that by the time that they can do it). But when they realize that there's no international glory in doing some stunt (which, to be honest, is all going to the Moon and coming back with a bag of rocks is) that was done long ago. Plus they have internal pressures the Americans and Russians don't have.
    So there it is.... Make plans and dreams, but don't expect real manned Mars missions to actually happen.

Re:There aren't going to be any Mars missions. (2)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 2 years ago | (#41579041)

On the other hand, Elon Musk is serious about it, and his next launch of a resupply to the ISS happens tonight. Be sure to watch. [spacex.com] If it blows up this time (it didn't last time), then I'll shut up. But chances are it won't, and SpaceX will keep steaming along.

Maybe, just maybe, a government won't be involved this time. (80% of SpaceX's current launch manifest is commercial. Only 20% of the money they're currently expecting to collect will come from governments.)

NASA and the tyranny of tiny risks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41578943)

This is more insanity from NASA. Do they have any systems analysts, operations analysts, or economists in that organisation?

First; I call on NASAs odds. How many man-days on the ISS and the Moon without injury, let alone serious injury? Plus, any injury will be occurred dirt-side, where you have gravity, not during the long cruise phases.

Second; so what? Worse case: you lose an astronaut. Big deal. As if there were not 1,000 larger risks where one can lose the entire crew. It is this ridiculous focus on minutae and risk-avoidance that has crippled NASA. We need risk management, not risk avoidance.

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