Heating and ventilating a 10,000 person space station

The National Space Society has a 33-page analysis of heat and energy transport and management for an outline but realistic habitat design. This allows a more detailed analysis than was possible in most theoretical precursor studies and enables comparison and validation of aspects of the design with the International Space Station, McMurdo Station in Antartica, Biosphere 2 and the Stanford Torus and Kalpana designs.

Above – Interior view showing end-cap greenhouses and window rings surrounding the hub air-duct. Transfer shafts within the tower blocks connect to “ground level” urban areas separated by farms.

The biggest lighting challenge within a large open space habitat is to illuminate the interior to a level commensurate with human comfort and wellbeing and sufficient for food crops without generating unmanageable amounts of waste heat.

The spaceports and other hub facilities are illuminated to levels similar to that of airports and other large enclosed public spaces. The waste heat is kept to a minimum with white light LEDs but still needs to be managed and is removed by ventilation systems and dumped to the external radiators.

Comparisons to Biosphere 2 and McMurdo Antarctic base

The Biosphere 2 habitat was contained aboveground by a glass superstructure, and underground by a steel liner. Through each 2-year ‘closure’ experiment (1991-4), Biosphere 2 was virtually materially sealed (less than 10% air exchange per year) but open to the energy of sunlight, electricity and heat transfer. For food, Biosphere 2’s eight-strong crew relied on the energy of the sunlight falling on their 2,000m2 agricultural section. Mechanical support included systems to circulate and process air and water, to process
waste, and to simulate tides, currents and waves. The solar flux through the glass roof on the agricultural area averaged at 267kW, or 138 W/m2, or 33 kW/person.

McMurdo Station and the Halley VI Research Station are permanently crewed Antarctic bases. While unlike Biosphere 2 they make no attempt to sustain closed life support systems, they do sustain human populations for lengthy periods in essentially uninhabitable environments, and so can provide data in particular on necessary power usages. For the present study McMurdo is particularly relevant as it sustains a comparatively large population (~250) on artificial life support systems through the Antarctic winter.

McMurdo Station, Antarctica’s largest community, is situated on Ross Island. It is essentially a small town which has grown haphazardly in response to the needs of individual projects. In 2005 it consisted of ~100 buildings covering ~40,000m2. Run by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the main purpose of the station is science. In Antarctic summer the station can host over 1000 residents; it endures a winter ‘closure’ from February to August, when the ~250 (or less) ‘winter-over’ inhabitants must survive without resupply.


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