Anyone who has been in a room with SSI President Gary Hudson over the past several years has heard about the absolute need for a G-Lab free-flying multiple-gravity testing habitat.
The SSI G-Lab, testing generations of vertibrates so as to finally gather information applicable to Humans in non-terrestrial gravities, must be a habitat situated for a relatively long period off of the Earth so that the effects of the planet’s 1G do not influence the data.
It should be a spin-system that allows the testing of various low gravities including the popular-culture goals of Mars (=~1/3rd) and the Moon (=~1/6th) plus a control Earth-normal and also the ability built into the fundamental design to test other various increments between those. That last point is important because a planetary surface is not the only place where a Human presence should be considered, and also because even transit “missions” such as to Mars will require the knowlege of just exactly what level of simulated gravity is best for the period of the trip – it may not be a full G.
The questions about this orbital laboratory typically include “Why does it have to be so big, can’t we get by with a small box?” and “Isn’t NASA or some other government agency already doing this testing?” and “Elon is going to Mars, he must be personally driven to invest in this research, right?” All good questions that are easily answered.
Over the past week another question has been starting to be asked: “Now that it has been proved that embryo development is possible in zero gravity, do we need a G-Lab?”
In case you haven’t seen the news, President Hudson advises you read these headline links:
This is very positive news, but even with independent confirmation the results of this experiment do not in any way take away from the need for G-Lab. We congratulate the scientists and engineers for being the first to publically reveal their doing this important research, but zero gravity/micro-gravity is not the only game in Space and conception is only the beginning. Related – but somewhat contradictory research – from Japanese scientists can be found at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0006753.
Even though it took decades for a government space agency to do this particular obvious experiment, we have conducted decades of applied micro-gravity research. G-Lab is about testing *Reduced Gravity* through the entire life span of a vertebrate, or as President Hudson says:
“… I’d have expected this result. The blastocyst isn’t likely affected by low or zero G. No bones, no calcium metabolism to speak of. The issue is how the embryo develops into a fetus, and what happens after the pups are born and they develop to adults in partial G. That’s the key experiment that (to my knowledge) has never been done.”
And doing that work is what G-Lab is about.
For more information, including the answers to the questions above, please click this link.