Connect with us

Publications

Hitting the Books: What astronauts can learn from nuclear submariners

Avatar

Published

on

We’ve dreamt of colonizing the stars since our first tenuous steps across the moon, yet fifty years after the Apollo 11 mission, the prospect of living and working beyond the bounds of Earth remains tantalizingly out of reach. In his latest book, Spacefarers: How Humans Will Settle the Moon, Mars, and Beyond, Christopher Wanjek examines humanity’s obsession with space travel, why our dreams of living among the stars haven’t yet come to fruition and what it will take to finally get our interstellar efforts off the ground. In the excerpt below, Wanjek compares life inside a sturdy metal tube hurtling through low Earth orbit to life inside a sturdy metal tube hurtling through Earth’s oceanic depths.

Spacefarers

Harvard University Press

Excerpted from SPACEFARERS: HOW HUMANS WILL SETTLE THE MOON, MARS, AND BEYOND by Christopher Wanjek, published by Harvard University Press. Copyright © 2020 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


As hostile an environment as Antarctica is, the icy continent still has one thing that the Moon and Mars doesn’t, and that’s air. When we go into space, we need to bring along air, or otherwise make it—not only for breathing but also for pressurizing the space suits. That’s the added challenge of living off of the Earth.

Yet there is one place on Earth that’s exactly like deep space. This is an unworldly environment of complete darkness, low temperatures, abnormal environmental pressure, no natural supply of breathable oxygen, cramped quarters, and chilling isolation, with limited ability to contact any other humans—a place where you and your crewmates need to generate your own electricity to power your lights and machines; to produce air to breath and water to drink; and to maintain the integrity of your food supply. The environment I refer to is deep in the Earth’s oceans, on a nuclear submarine.

Life on a nuclear submarine provides the closest example we have of what living would be like on a moon, another planet, or a space voyage. Occupants of a nuclear submarine are in a constant life-and-death struggle with the hostile environment that surrounds them. No hyperbole here. It’s a harrowing, nerve-wracking existence. Any number of mishaps—fire, lost pressure, a vessel leak, a gas leak—could spell death for the entire crew. Calamity a mile under the sea is as treacherous as calamity millions of miles in deep space.

Space settlements surely weren’t on the minds of the designers of the first nuclear subs, but these vessels contain all the technology needed to live in space. Through their use, we have learned how to live in a completely artificial and self-contained environment. Indeed, these subs are among the most sophisticated engineering masterpieces ever built. At their heart is a compact nuclear engine capable of powering the locomotion of the submarine and all its subsystems for twenty-five years without refueling. The first nuclear sub, the USS Nautilus, christened in 1954, could travel 100,000 kilometers on four kilograms of nuclear fuel. That’s two and half times around Earth. The USS Pennsylvania, one of the largest nuclear submarines in commission, can accelerate its 17,000-ton steel frame to more than 45 kilometers per hour and power the myriad machines and equipment on this 170-meter vessel for years with just a lump of uranium the size of a fist. Typical deployments last three months, often entirely underwater. The ship needs to resurface only to restock food and let the crew see their families.

NASA is eying a nuclear submarine design to explore the ice-covered oceans on Jupiter’s moon Europa and the hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan, missions that are many decades away from fruition. And the fuel efficiency alone offered by nuclear fission has space agencies contemplating ways to similarly power bases on the Moon and Mars cheaply and reliably. Harvesting dependable and abundant solar energy on dusty Mars remains questionable, as we will see in Chapter 6. And beyond Mars, using solar energy from a distant Sun becomes largely impractical, leaving nuclear fission as the likely fuel source (unless a nuclear fusion engine is developed).

The greater lesson to be learned from a nuclear submarine, however, is not the energy source but rather what one does with that energy: create a self-contained artificial “earth” in an environment not conducive to human life. The first requirement underwater or in space is to generate oxygen. Each member of the 150-person submarine crew needs at least 550 liters of oxygen per day. Without an oxygen generator, the submarine would run out of oxygen in seven days. A perhaps surprising source of this precious oxygen on a nuclear submarine is the ocean water that surrounds it. Each molecule of water, H2O, contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Through the process of electrolysis, a machine passes an electrical current through distilled seawater to create oxygen gas, O2, and releases the hydrogen back into the ocean. The process may mimic what needs to be done on the Moon and elsewhere with extraction of the oxygen from water ice deposits.

Oxygen generation, of course, is only part one. We breathe in oxygen but exhale carbon dioxide, CO2. Submarines needs to remove CO2 from the air before it builds up to toxic levels. With no plants to take in the CO2 naturally, a machine “scrubs” the CO2 from the air by passing the gas through an aqueous solution of monoethanolamine, an organic chemical compound with the formula HOCH2CH2NH2. (An aside: not to get bogged down in chemistry, but follow that N in the formula, which stands for nitrogen. The US Navy says the air on a nuclear sub is cleaner than the air you breathe on land, but that’s only half the story. Yes, the oxygen is rather pure. But any seasoned submariner will tell you the stench of ammonia-like amines permeates the vessel. That’s what the nitrogen converts to in the scrubbing reaction.) We also exhale water vapor, which needs to be removed in this closed system with dehumidifiers. Machines exhale, too. Stoves generate small amounts of carbon monoxide, CO, which is toxic even in tiny amounts. Batteries emit hydrogen gas. Both these gasses need to be filtered, collected, and burned.

For years NASA modeled its air-recycling modules on US Navy designs, but it has since advanced the technology to such an extent that the navy now has come to NASA to help improve submarine air quality, essentially through experimentation with a variety of different kinds of scrubbing actions. Plants help; vegetation absorbs CO2 and produces O2. But you’d need hundreds of plants per person in a closed system to reproduce this natural cycle on a submarine or in a space habitat. Water electrolysis is more dependable and requires less energy, given the fact that you’d need to power the lights to grow the food indoors. Plants, at best, complement mechanical air exchange by reducing odors and adding a little oxygen.

Drinking water on submarines also comes from the ocean water, through the energy-intensive process of desalination. Energy also is needed to maintain a constant air pressure of 1 atmosphere as the submarine dives from surface level down to its half-mile-deep cruising depth. This pressure regulation is somewhat the opposite of what is needed on airplanes and what would be needed in space, where celestial bodies contain little or no pressure. The entire weight of Earth’s atmosphere presses down on our bodies at sea level with a force of about 15 pounds per square inch (psi). We call this amount, conveniently enough, 1 atmosphere of pressure. On the top of Mount Everest, the atmospheric pressure is only about 5 psi, or a third of an atmosphere, because there is less air on top of you.

On Mars the atmospheric pressure is about 0.09 psi because there’s hardly an atmosphere; on the Moon, the atmospheric pressure is essentially zero. But once you’re underwater, you have air plus water weighing down on you. The pressure increases about 1 atmosphere for every ten meters of water depth. So, at a half mile, or 800 meters deep, the pressure is up to 80 atmospheres. Outside the safe confines of the sub, you’d be crushed instantly. Submarines maintain constant pressure via a double-hull system comprising an outer waterproof hull and an inner pressure hull made of tough steel or titanium. An advanced ballast system holding various amounts of air or water stabilizes hull compression.

As sophisticated as nuclear submarines are, they are dangerous beasts. Danger lurks not only outside in the chilly, dark depths of the ocean but inside, as well. Most nuclear subs, after all, are war machines armed to the teeth. Fires can easily trigger explosions that can blow the vessel apart. Such was the tragedy for a Russian submarine called Kursk on August 12, 2000, when a series of warhead explosions set in motion by a hydrogen peroxide leak and subsequent kerosene-fueled fire tore through the vessel. Most of the 118 crew members were killed in the initial explosions, yet twenty-three members apparently survived for many hours at the far end of the sub until yet one more explosion consumed all remaining oxygen and they suffocated.

Space agencies have learned from both the deaths and lives of submariners. The Russian government’s investigation of the Kursk disaster, published a few years later in the Russian government daily newspaper of record, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, revealed “a shocking level of negligence on all levels of the command; stunning breaches of discipline; and shoddy, obsolete and poorly maintained equipment.” That is, the accident didn’t have to happen. Is this regard, NASA is militaristic in its approach to workplace safety on the International Space Station, requiring more than an hour each day for routine safety checks. Shortly after the Kursk incident, in 2002, NASA officially teamed with the US Navy for the NASA / Navy Benchmarking Exchange, which comprised senior representatives from NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance and the navy’s 07Q Submarine Safety and Quality Assurance Division (SUBSAFE). The group identified multiple opportunities for NASA to benefit from SUBSAFE submarine successes. If a deadly accident can happen on Earth, under the sea, it can happen in space.

Submarine living arrangements also are of keen interest to space agencies, because life in space, at least early on, will also be cramped and isolated and thus a potential source of psychological turmoil. Submariners have the added complication of secrecy—silent service, they call it. Nuclear submarines are designed to be stealthy in their surveillance around the globe, so crewmembers cannot call home or have video chats with loved ones or curious schoolchildren, as is the case for astronauts aboard the ISS. Step inside one of these subs on the first day of your mission and hear the hatch close behind, and an instant, regrettable feeling of claustrophobia may come over you. The USS Pennsylvania might be the biggest nuclear submarine, at 170 meters long (about two football fields), but it’s only 13 meters wide and 12 meters in keel depth. There are no windows, just the haze of artificial lights to guide you through the labyrinth of narrow passageways, a seemingly endless line of metal gadgetry, pipes, and wires from floor to ceiling—raw, like an unfinished construction project. Almost everything is gray, as if set up to be an exercise in depression. There’s a constant hum of a machine shop, too, and the odor of lube oil and diesel mixed in with the pervasive amines creates that distinctive eau de sous-marin. Low clearance, less than six feet—it’s best not to be too tall. Same faces day in and day out. The sleeping arrangements are bunks three levels high, nine to a room that’s smaller than a jail cell. No Sun to guide your internal clock; you won’t likely see daylight for ninety days.

As witnessed in Antarctica, meals are morale boosters. US submariners describe it as the best food in the navy, by far. Beyond this, the beautiful hypnotic monotony of routines and, perhaps, memories of Kursk are what keep the crew going: report to station, check machines, perform maintenance, clean, jump to a surprise drill, train, exercise, jump to another surprise drill, eat, sleep, and repeat. Newbies work on the extensive qualifications required to become a submarine specialist and “earn their dolphins,” a uniform breast pin that’s a big deal and, in the US Navy, one of the three major enlisted warfare pins. One other element that helps the submariners maintain sanity is their deep sense of purpose that comes with the awesome responsibility of controlling a stealth war machine capable of launching a nuclear attack.

The submariners often lament that they don’t have windows. These would be too difficult to install to withstand the high pressure and would serve little purpose, as there is no light below 1,000 meters of ocean. But their lament was the major contributing factor for placing windows on the ISS, a major comfort for astronauts.

The US Navy has studied the psychological well-being of its submariners and has found, not surprisingly, that the cramped conditions lead to poor sleep, irritability, and depression. Conversely, creating the illusion of more space with less-cluttered recreational areas such as mess halls and sleeping berths can improve well-being. Fortunately for the submariners, a deployment rarely exceeds three months. A cramped trip to Mars is expected to last nine months, followed by two years in a cramped habitat, and then a cramped nine-month voyage home. How will the small crew fare? As related below, NASA embarked on a project with the US Navy at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, to find out.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Comment
Comments

Share
386 Shares

Share

Tweet

Share

Source: https://www.engadget.com/hitting-the-books-spacefarers-christopher-wanjek-harvard-university-press-153044875.html

Publications

Security and Sustainability Forum-With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider. 10/22/2020

Avatar

Published

on


Steering Societies Beyond GDP to the SDGs

With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider

October 22, 2020

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm EDT

The next webinar in the SSF series, with ecological economist and futurist Hazel Henderson, will address how the UN SDGs can and should replace GDP as the basis for valuing society leading to an economy based on planet protection and human wellbeing. Claudine Schneider is Hazel’s guest.

GDP accounts for all the public expenditures as “debt” while ignoring the value of the assets they created. If GDP were to be corrected by including the missing asset account, these debt-to-GDP ratios would be cut by up to 50% — with a few keystrokes! Learn why money isn’t what you think it is and why that matters to life on Earth in the next two webinars with Hazel and guests.

Register

Claudine Schneider is a former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island. She was the first, and to date only, woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. She is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which describes itself as a network of “Republican former Members of Congress who feel compelled to remind Republican voters about the fundamentals of our party and to provide the facts about incumbents’ voting records.”

October 22nd webinar with Claudine Schneider and Hazel

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

[email protected]

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/63564-2/

Continue Reading

Crunchbase

The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

Avatar

Published

on

Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

Continue Reading

Crunchbase

Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

Avatar

Published

on

Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

Continue Reading
Covid198 mins ago

How Telemedicine Can Help Keep Your Health on Track

Start Ups33 mins ago

Website Packages – Good or Evil?

Blockchain56 mins ago

Self-Sovereign Decentralized Digital Identity

Cyber Security7 hours ago

Best Moon Lamp Reviews and Buying Guide

Cyber Security10 hours ago

Guilford Technical Community College Continues to Investigate a Ransomware Cyberattack

Cyber Security13 hours ago

IOTW: Will There Be An Incident Of Impact On Tuesday’s Election?

Blockchain News16 hours ago

Mastercard and GrainChain Bring Blockchain Provenance to Commodity Supply Chain in Americas

AR/VR19 hours ago

Win a Copy of Affected: The Manor for Oculus Quest

AR/VR19 hours ago

The Steam Halloween Sale has Begun With Themed Activities and Updates

AR/VR21 hours ago

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall Announced for PC VR & Oculus Quest, Arrives 2021

Crowdfunding22 hours ago

I Dare You to Ignore This Trend

Blockchain News22 hours ago

Bitcoin Price Flashes $750M Warning Sign As 60,000 BTC Options Set To Expire

AR/VR22 hours ago

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge to Include VR Short ‘Temple of Darkness’

Blockchain News22 hours ago

Bitcoin Suffers Mild Drop but Analyst Who Predicted Decoupling Expects BTC Price to See Bullish Uptrend

Blockchain News23 hours ago

AMD Purchases Xilinx in All-Stock Transaction to Develop Mining Devices

Cyber Security23 hours ago

Newly Launched Cybersecurity Company Stairwell

AI24 hours ago

How 5G Will Impact Customer Experience?

AR/VR1 day ago

You can now Request the PlayStation VR Camera Adaptor for PS5

Blockchain News1 day ago

HSBC and Wave Facilitate Blockchain-Powered Trade Between New Zealand and China

Blockchain News1 day ago

Aave Makes History as Core Developers Transfer Governance to Token Holders

Blockchain News1 day ago

Caitlin Long’s Avanti Becomes the Second Crypto Bank in the US, Open for Commercial Clients in Early 2021

Blockchain News1 day ago

KPMG Partners with Coin Metrics to Boost Institutional Crypto Adoption

Blockchain News1 day ago

US SEC Executive Who said Ethereum is Not a Security to Leave the Agency

Blockchain News1 day ago

MicroStrategy Plans to Purchase Additional Bitcoin Reserves With Excess Cash

Covid191 day ago

How followers on Instagram can help to navigate your brand during a pandemic

Cyber Security1 day ago

StackRox Announced the Release of KubeLinter to Identify Misconfigurations in Kubernetes

Cyber Security2 days ago

How Was 2020 Cyber Security Awareness Month?

Ecommerce2 days ago

Masks and More Outlet Donates Face Masks For Children In Local…

Ecommerce2 days ago

Clicks Overtake Bricks: PrizeLogic & SmartCommerce Bring Shoppable…

Ecommerce2 days ago

Footwear Sales in the U.S. Expected to Stabilize and Bounce Back…

Ecommerce2 days ago

Celerant Technology® Expands NILS™ Integration Enabling Retailers…

Ecommerce2 days ago

The COVID-19 Pandemic Causes Eating Patterns in America to Take a…

Ecommerce2 days ago

MyJane Collaborates with Hedger Humor to Bring Wellness and Laughter…

AR/VR2 days ago

Sci-fi Shooter Hive Slayer is Free, Asks Players for Louisiana Hurricane Relief Donations Instead

AR/VR2 days ago

AMD Announces Radeon RX 6000-series GPUs with USB-C “for a modern VR experience”

AI2 days ago

Resiliency And Security: Future-Proofing Our AI Future

AI2 days ago

AI Projects Progressing Across Federal Government Agencies

Blockchain2 days ago

Kucoin and Revain Announce Partnership

AR/VR2 days ago

Crowdfunded AR Startup Tilt Five Secures $7.5M Series A Investment

AR/VR2 days ago

The Importance of XR Influencers

Trending