Category Archives: G-Lab

SSI SA Joe Strout brainstorms SSI G-Lab

image: Bigelow Aerospace
image: Bigelow Aerospace

In the SSI Yahoo Group High Frontier simulation/game creator and SSI Senior Associate Joe Strout just posted this fascinating idea for a different approach to the SSI G-Lab.  It uses a free-flying Bigelow B330 for savings on the outer craft and a different sort of centrifuge system.

“I’ve been thinking for a while how to scale down the G-Lab concept into its most economical form.  think I’ve got it:

It’s basically a (custom-built) model train, running around the wall of a BA-330 module.  Picture something like a G-scale (garden scale) train or slightly larger; each car is about 30cm long, and both track and cars are curved slightly to match the curvature of the wall (er, floor). It’s a *long* train, going all the way around the 19.6 m track; if the cars are about 30 cm long, then there are 65 of them including the engine(s).

The cars themselves are basically flatbeds, with a large indentation in which a mouse cage can rest (with weak magnets to hold it in place under microgravity).  The mouse cage can be easily lifted off or replaced.

The engine and the cars both pick up power from the track; the cars also pass this on to the cage, where it can run little WiFi cam in each one.

In its simplest implementation, that’s pretty much it.  We’d probably actually run two identical tracks, in opposite directions, and hooked up to the same speed controller, so as to avoid imparting any spin to the station.  Researchers would simply slow the trains to a stop when they need to freshen the cages or study the mice.

However, that might be more downtime than we want (it could take hours to work through all those cages).  So here’s a possible enhancement: attached to the central pillar is an inverted track (like a roller coaster), with a small crane.  This is basically a motorized winch with a claw or strong electromagnet on the end, that fits a corresponding attachment point on the top of each cage..

This would be under computer control, so the researcher would tell the computer, “pick up cage 17,” and it would spin up the crane to match the track speed, position the crane head over cage 17, and lower the claw/electromagnet.  Having grabbed the cage, it would then reel it in, and then slow to a stop next to the researcher, who would measure the mice, clean/replace the cage, etc.  When done, the researcher attaches the cage back to the crane, says “place on car 17,” and the crane reverses the process, matching speed/position and then lowering the cage into position.

All this seems very cheap and low-risk to me; decades of model trains have amply demonstrated most of the technology involved.  It also doesn’t take too much room on the station, block the researcher’s passage from one end of the station to the other, etc.  The whole thing comes as a kit, assembled by the researchers the first day, and put through its paces before they put the mice inside.  When our BA-330 lease is up, the researchers simply take it back apart and pack it back into the boxes it came in.

We might even be able to get a company like Lionel to produce any custom track parts or engine required, for the cool publicity it would bring them.

What do you all think?

- Joe”

Thanks Joe, it is an intriguing idea!

For more on the reasons a G-Lab is so very important, just check the recent news stories on the effects of microgravity on the Kelly Twin experiment and look to this page on

Moon, Mars and issues of Gravity

October 26th 2017 Update: a pdf of President Gary’s slides from the ASGSR presentation is now available on the SSI G-Lab overview page!

SSI President Gary Hudson
SSI President Gary Hudson

A note from President Gary C Hudson:

To ascertain the effects of microgravity on the human body, Astronaut Scott Kelley spent a year on ISS while his twin remained on Earth to provide a control. The effects aren’t pretty, as he reports in his new book “Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery.”

Why did he do it? He notes:

“Our space agencies won’t be able to push out farther into space, to a destination like Mars, until we can learn more about how to strengthen the weakest links in the chain that make space flight possible: the human body and mind.”

But the unspoken message in his comment is that – with a bit of hard work and picking the right physical specimens for the job – maybe we can go to Mars and back, at the risk of some acceptable amount of permanent damage to the crew. But that’s not what SSI and the rest of the space settlement community needs to hear. Exploration is well and good, but only as prelude to settlement. Unless we build and operate something like our proposed SSI G-Lab, we can’t answer the larger biological question of how men and women, and their offspring, can hope to settle the space frontier.

-Gary C Hudson, President
Space Studies Institute

On Thursday October 26th, 2017 SSI President Gary C Hudson will be speaking at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research in Seattle. President Gary is scheduled to be be taking the stage in Thursday afternoon’s ‘Enabling Tech III: Model Systems Research’ session. For more information on the ASGSR, click here.

For More information on SSI G-Lab, click here.

For a book teaser article written by Scott Kelly and released by the Brisbane Times  on October 6th, click here.

New G-Lab Program pages

“She had her fourth birthday last week,” Halvorsen answered proudly. “Children grow fast in this low gravity. But they don’t age so quickly – they’ll live longer than we do.”

Floyd stared in fascination at the self-assured little lady, noting the graceful carriage and the unusually delicate bone structure. “It’s nice to meet you again Diana,” he said. Then something – perhaps sheer curiosity, perhaps politeness – impelled him to add: “Would you like to go to Earth?”

Her eyes widened with astonishment; then she shook her head.

“It’s a nasty place; you hurt yourself when you fall down. Besides there are too many people.”

So here, Floyd told himself, is the first generation of the Spaceborn; there would be more of them in the years to come. Though there was sadness in this thought, there was also a great hope. When Earth was tamed and tranquil, and perhaps a little tired, there would still be scope for those who loved freedom, for the tough pioneers, the restless adventurers. But their tools would not be ax and gun and canoe and wagon; they would be nuclear power plant and plasma drive and hydroponic farm. The time was fast approaching when Earth, like all mothers, must say farewell to her children.”

- 2001, Chapter 10 “Clavius Base”

There is absolutely no proof that a gravity lower than Earth’s would do no more than alter bone structure making humans elegantly delicate and tall.

There is absolutely no proof that living in a lower gravity would make for longer lives.

Both ideas have been common in even the best science fiction forever, but there is no proof that either would actually be the case.

2001 is a great story, and above all Clarke’s Dr. Floyd paraphrasing Tsiolkovsky still has absolute merit; the Spaceborn will be coming eventually. It sure would be nice, though, if some space agency or company that says that it wants to help Humans live on planets with low gravities would start doing some actual research on generations of vertebrates before the first Spaceborn is on its inevitable way.

The cost to their entire program after just one child is born not quite right would likely be far, far higher than the cost of putting a multi-G test habitat in operation as early as possible.

This is the fundamental reason for SSI’s G-Lab Project.

For more information, please see the growing collection of resources on the new SSI G-Lab Program page.

[[March 29th update! just added to G-Lab: SSI SA Peter Diamandis on Reconsidering Artificial Gravity For Space Habitats!!]]

New on the SSI YouTube Channel: President Gary at the SVSC

SSI President Gary Hudson
SSI President Gary Hudson

Gravity: The Key to Life and Propulsion on The High Frontier.  Enabling Permanent Human Settlement On The High Frontier.

February 27th 2017 Space Studies Institute President Gary C Hudson spoke at the Silicon Valley Space Center/AIAA Tech Talk meeting in Santa Clara, California about two important SSI programs: G-Lab, the free flying reduced gravity spinner co-orbited with ISS and EPI, supporting fundamental R&D for true “Space Drives.”

It was a fascinating night and we hope that all SSI Associates will make the time to enjoy this video.

Many thanks to Dr. Sean Casey and Rick Kwan of the Silicon Valley Space Center, the AIAA-SF and the Santa Clara Hacker Dojo.