It might depend on what the station wasn't far away from. It would also depend on your technology.
Certainly, air would be important, but as long as you had enough oxygen and not too much in the way of toxic gases, you could make it work. You can breathe oxygen mixed with a lot of things, not just nitrogen (though naturally plants need the stuff).
But I wouldn't discount looking at life support, just broadening the way you look at it. Loss of atmosphere from a large station probably won't kill you as fast as loss of your CO2 uptake, after all. And a working ecosphere is a lot more fragile and tempermental than any hull design you would plausibly have. So losing your air would be a minor and exotic threat, while losing biosphere integrity to some idiot thing (from ants to kids growing pot in the hydroponics section) would be a near omnipresent possibility.
Thanks to those who have already replied. This has a small application in a short story I'm working on and I want the threat to be believable. I was thinking air quality and water would probably be the two most important things on a space station.
I had forgotten, though, that in a sealed environment you will die from carbon dioxide poisoning before you run out of oxygen (thanks for the reminder, Survivor). I hadn't thought about the need to maintain the integrity of the ecoshpere.
Oh, and don't forget "living room". On a small space station over very long periods of time, the psychological stresses could get a bit overwhelming for the average shmo who's just there to get some experimental data before funding gets cut. I've read some good stories about that, too.
We've all got to watch out for what happens to Balthasar when somebody recycles one of his hardbacks, after all. And of course, I don't want Homer on board even if we have lots of beer and TV.
If you're not near any star and your generators stop, you'll freeze to death. How long this would take would depend on the size of the station. If life-support is an ecosystem, then it would start to go out when the lights did. It might be a race to see whether you froze first or suffocated. If life-support is more mechanical, it would fail really fast.
Posts: 30 | Registered: Aug 2004
You'll also have to worry about the waste heat from any mechanical device you use. You'd have to have some kind of cooling system so you don't bake yourself or your equipment.
Posts: 1041 | Registered: Aug 2004
QuantumLogic and Survivor have made critical points. The most important thing to you will be the systems that provide energy to sustain life (heat, breathable air, food, potable water, etc.) and get rid of waste (CO2, urine, excrement, etc.)
Traditionally, these systems are depicted as one and the same. Waste is recycled into water, air, and food, as the Earth's biosphere does automatically. This requires energy.
Thus, I conclude that the most important thing to you will be your source of energy. If you have enough energy you can find a way to clean your air and water, but if you have no energy you will die.
[This message has been edited by Doc Brown (edited October 02, 2004).]
You can control the energy loss of the entire system pretty easily in space. So if the reactor goes down, you'll still have a good long while before you freeze to death unless you have a major hull breach.
Keeping your plants (or whatever) on the job of recycling your air supply is rather more of an urgent concern. RH didn't specify that we wouldn't have a star available, but assuming that we didn't, energy would be a major concern.
Still, a good reactor in the power range we need would be reliable enough. It would probably be as reliable as, say, the abscence of space ninja bent on killing everyone. Okay, it would probably be more reliable than the abscence of space ninja--if we assume that we've got this space station far from any planets, I think we can safely assume that there will be space ninja somewhere or other, which may or may not decide to choose that station as a place to flip out and kill people.
If you built life support into the individuals on the station (or if they were all robots or something), then clearly normal life support wouldn't be a pressing issue. But that just shifts the burden into maintenance of individual life support/medical implants.
But really, avoiding getting chopped into mincemeat by space ninja also counts as "maintenance of individual life support" if you make the term that broad.
Perhaps the person on the station isn't preoccupied with survival. Maybe we should add a sketchpad to Balthasar's books. It might be that the person living on this space station is more interested in drawing portraits of space ninja than anything else. Thus the presence of space ninja would be part of what was "of most value".
It is difficult to say what someone would most value in such a situation.
I didn't mean my own books, but, rather, the handful of books by other people I would've undoubtedly taken with me. Come on, now, what else is there to do on a space station except read The Lord of the Rings?
[This message has been edited by Balthasar (edited October 01, 2004).]
I think that the nature of your mission, and the resources you are close to would play a huge role in how prepared and motivated that the people inside the station will be.
If they are sole survivors of the human race that evacuated to avoid an asteroid, destroying all life on the planetâ€¦ then the tone of the station will be over crowded, drained resources and a miasma that will infect the people like a plague.
If they are on the cutting edge of technology, resourced well, and have strong and intelligent personnel, who are reaching for a goal -- then the tone will be drastically different.
Beyond the obvious physical concerns, the next biggest issue is the dynamics of your characters and the nature of what puts them in close quarters with one another.
*grin* You have my curiosity spiked. Good luck with the story!
What would really be of most value to me would be the mementos and sentimental objects I brought with me that remind me I have a connection with home: photographs (or holographs, or recorded memories, whatever), a pendant, a handful of soil from home, a religious statue or totem, maybe even an old keychain.
The greatest everpresent threat is the danger of death after an EVA accident while untethered or you have malfunctioning thrusters. The fail-safes fail anyway and you are irretrievable. You are running out of oxygen in your suit as you helplessly float away. You are dying in the infinite depths of space, profoundly alone. It is about the worst way to go that I can think of.
quote:You are dying in the infinite depths of space, profoundly alone. It is about the worst way to go that I can think of.
You obviously were not in my sixth-grade European history class when we discussed various methods of torture and execution that were used. The victims of some of those methods would have gladly changed places for a nice, lonely suffocation in the depths of space.
And a space ninja flipping out and killing them would have been OK, too.
With AI technology advanced only slightly beyond our own, EVA activity will almost never be necessary. Robots could perform maintenance and repairs. The Canadian Space Agency has already built Dextre a robot that is supposed to perform repairs on Hubble. I am skeptical about Dextre's success, since Hubble was built to be serviced by humans. Had Hubble been designed with Dextre in mind I have no doubt that the repair would go smoothly.
Nevertheless, I believe that humans would perform EVAs. They would do it for fun. I know I would.
If something did go wrong on a recreational EVA, rescue would be come swiftly and efficiently from more robots. They could accellerate faster and navigate more accurately than humens, bringing spare oxygen, batteries, and anything else.
Well the thing I would most fear on a spacestation would be Rabid Lemurs. That and that creepy guy that is always laughing. Or that parrot on my shoulder that just won't shut up! Or what if I have a worm in my head that is making me crazy? And if so what is his name?
Space Station. Psyco Ward. Both have white walls, coincidence? I think Not!
But in a closed system, goatboy, wouldn't it be that guy shuttling supplies in and out who would be the most likely source of that dread disease you so fear? Seems to me he ought to be your worst enemy. Posts: 1672 | Registered: Apr 2004
I didn't mention aftershave. It gives me headaches and that thought leads me to the subject of inter-gender mechanics. If the male:female ratio was uneven, the station could become like a deep space prison hulk. Anyone who has read anything about the prison hulks in the Thames in the early 1800s would shudder right now.
Labour and industrial action could be a threat too, especially if the station was considered a scab shop and placed under sanction.
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited October 13, 2004).]
Well ignoring the ever present "Beware of Space Ninja" signs then the situation for human concern normally depends on this "Background". How many things do we take for granted? Well depending on your humans on this space station the things they take for granted will depend on their origins. If they were born on the station they would have a completly different outlook to the planet born.
Also if the life control systems were self maintaining and never had a problem most people would take them for granted - a bit like crossing the road, dangerous but a way of life.
If space pirates (or ninjas) had just ransacked a nearby station then that would be your primary concern.