If humans are ever going to colonise space and explore the outer solar system, technology needs to drastically advance and include ways to maintain the human body as well as spacecraft.
To live healthily in space we need to develop the technology to be able to simulate gravity, produce medicine while off the planet and also learn to hibernate.
Nano-sensors need to be fully developed to monitor our vital signs, as well as advanced telemedicine and surgery for when something does go wrong.
The ways that we would survive in space were revealed in a new report by the by the European Science Foundation looking at the development of technologies that will allow more advanced space missions.
The report, called the Technological Breakthroughs for Scientific Progress (TECHBREAK), said humans need to be able to create spacecraft that can last for at least 50 years in space.
For this to be successful we need to create spacecraft from material that can withstand high temperatures, advance their thermal control, provide energy for long periods and self-repair.
“For missions to the outer solar system, it might be necessary to establish such a long mission timeline,” it said.
“The second reason is financial: with the very high costs associated with some of the space missions, it is logical to demand that the asset can be utilised over very long time spans. In order to achieve this, space systems need to be durable, reliable and with redundant design and/or the ability to self-repair.”
The report said there are five major areas that will contribute to long-term goals.
These are building a spacecraft that can last for at least 50 years, sending a 30m+ telescope into space, enabling humans to stay in space for more than two years, being able to autonomously survey planets and reducing mass while maintaining stiffness.
It said ways to protect astronauts from radiation need to be developed.
“Keeping astronauts not only alive but healthy, motivated and alter for the duration of the mission will be a major challenge,” the report said.
“The life support system should be robust and affordable, suggesting a system that recycles almost all waste products and produces food, water, oxygen and the other necessities in flight.”
Our knowledge of the depths of space will only increase if we can send a large telescope, at least 30m in length, into space.
This presents a host of logistical and engineering challenges.
The report said one way of putting a telescope into space would be to use a flexible mirror that would be inflated or unfolded in space.
The report said: “One of the main outcome of the TECHBREAK was the definition of five ‘Overwhelming Drivers’ for space. These drivers represent the main areas where technological improvements are needed in order to be able to generate breakthroughs in space capabilities.
“The drivers also served as a brief introduction to the space environment and space operations for non-space experts and acted as a stimulant for the identification of potential helpful technologies.
“These drivers were the communication tool that the TECHBREAK team utilised for bridging the knowledge gap between space and non-space experts.”
Featured image courtesy of Nasa. Inset images courtesy of European Space Foundation