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The food-problem

Posted by: Stefan Sigwarth - Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:36 pm
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The food-problem 
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Post The food-problem   Posted on: Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:36 pm
Ey guys,

apart from the financial and engineering obstacles needed to overcome, i found another 'biggy', even though it is related to the engineering part. I've read on several websites that a full-grown man needs about a footballfield sized field of corn/weed, to sustain that man for 1 single year on earth. Off course, in space we could probably have multiple harvests so you bring that down, but you would still need a huge amount of land to sustain a whole colony in space. Because, you dont want to keep hauling all that food from earth every time.

How could this problem be solved? Better more concentrated foods, simply bigger colonies or something else? Anybody any clues? Maybe NASA did some thinking on this one?


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Post Weed?   Posted on: Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:21 pm
Stefan,

I think a football sized field of 'Weed' would lead to MUCH more than normal food consumption, and, more than likely sap at least some of the desire for exploration past the 'Acceleration Couch' and Video Monitors :D :D

(Just teasin' of course!)


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:23 pm
Euhm, damn. Weed is the real weed. Have to check what the english word for the one thing i mean is. Weat perhepas?

Image

These things. Sound the same but they don't feel the same ;) But hey, if you're gonna send everyone up anyhow, whats the fun withouth weed and beer? :D


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 24, 2007 1:16 am
Eating corn for a whole year doesn't appeal to me.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 24, 2007 1:54 am
Wondering who will be the first private commercial space food supplier :)
Bigelow will need some food aboard is spacestations.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 24, 2007 7:25 am
Regardless of "weed" or "wheat" ("Weizen" in German) the weightlessness in space will keep down the required consumption compared to Earth.

The weightlessness also might mena that the footballfiled-like area could be on the inner side of a sphere which also would optimize the distances to all location within that field.

So in principle the required amount and consumption of food might be less than on Earth as long as it is plant-based food.

But is that possible?

Hello, Stefan, very good idea to use visualisation of what you are talking about to explain it.



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 24, 2007 10:20 am
Off course you don't want to eat the same food everyday anyday, but it was just for comparing the size of land you would need in case one person would be up there. Plus, you need large equipement to get your crop in, so if there is not an automated system of some sort, you would be busy all year just growing your food.

But still, the ratio of living-space : land-for-food aren't really good odds.

Sure you would need less energy to keep your body going, but if you want to stay in shape, you'll have to train a lot everyday and that pumps up your energyneeds. Plus is you don't need to have these large CO2 scrubbers, only a few for backup since plants just love CO2.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 24, 2007 10:30 am
Shooting them into LEO with a EM rail? Seems to be the most cost efficient.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 24, 2007 3:56 pm
If you're going to grow food in space, then you would almost certainly need a rotating habitat for simulating gravity. Plants don't grow properly in zero-g. Hydroponics, high energy density plants, controlled light & temperature and multiple crops per year, should reduce the required area by quite a lot. Probably down to 5% or 10% of the 'football field'.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:59 pm
I have heard they grow tomatoes on the ISS, so it is at least possible in microgravity.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:05 am
I read somewhere that some grow ok, most poorly. I imagine it would be hard to manage large scale irrigation, in microgravity.

Anyway, with water recycling, a person needs less than 1 kg of food per day. So if people are in space long enough to make growing their own food necessary, simulated gravity will also be necessary. And that means a BIG rotating habitat. Hundreds of metres in radius at least for 1 g with minimal side effects. So plenty of room for growing stuff.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 25, 2007 4:27 pm
Just this moment I remember that plants grow towards the light, towards the sun as well as towards the water.

So this could be applied to guide and help them. In a habitat the sun can be hidden and light - regardless of artificial or reflected sunlight - could be made shine from where it would be optimal.

There plants also that prefer to grow along sticks and the like which also could be provided.

But how to keep the soil where it ought to be - at the walls?



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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 10, 2007 10:58 am
I think I read somewhere that one of the problems of growing stuff in zero G was getting them to absorb nutrients/water through their root system. Fluid tend to cling together in small spheres (surface tension?) rather than attach itself to plant roots where it can be absorbed.


I believe the Russia has been conducting some plant growth experiments on the ISS where they have grown beans, lettuce and spinnach, if I remember rightly the cosmonauts did this in their spare time and were allowed to eat some of the produce as a reward, the rest was transported back to Earth for analysis. There was a program on this a while back on the Space Show, it should be in the arhives somewhere.

http://www.thespaceshow.com/

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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 10, 2007 6:54 pm
Kind of funny how the one of the biggest problems in space is.... lack of space. Space its self is not a particularly appealing destination. The only reasons I can see for folks to be in micro gravity are transportation between two points of interest and harvesting some local resource. Of course the experience is probably worth the trip, don't know I have not been.

e.g. Solar energy collection plant / asteroid mining. Here on earth we don't grow crops in industrial parks. We ship them in from the country side. It is the capitalistic concept of comparative advantage. Planets will always have a crop growing advantage over space based agriculture. I am not suggesting that it tossed aside completely (especially on interstellar travel, might be a few years out on that one.) It would be good to have some fresh foods to supplement a larger store of goods from your friendly neighboring planet.

~Dan


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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:53 am
Hello, Andy Hill,

your hint that one problem is that in space fluids form spheres might mean to simply rely on that and place soil around and in those spheres and provide a spherical light source around the sphere including a proper atmosphere between the spherical light source and the sphere of fluid and soil where the plants would have to be grown in.

Can that be done and solved?



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