Jump Temp – Crew Compartment

A lot of thought has been put into what the crew compartment of a space ship would need to look like. This is no simple puzzle, because a ship that tumbles end over end to produce artificial gravity has strange requirements. The crew compartment would likely have the floor, where the crew’s feet point, be where you would traditionally think of as the front of the ship. But when the vessel was accelerating, the floor would have the occupants looking up in the direction the ship is headed.

Unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to get enough acceleration out of a realistic drive system to simulate anything more than a tiny fraction of earth’s gravity. This would require a ship to tumble or spin on it’s drive axis as it travels. Only larger ships can spin on their axis, because rotating a small ship would not have a large enough rotational radius to properly simulate gravity. With too small a radius, a passenger’s head would experience less gravity than their feet, causing blood to pool in the legs.

A small ship might only tumble when it was jumping, allowing for a period of artificial gravity in between long trips. In this time, a passenger would have to exercise to mitigate bone loss.

It might also be possible for the drive system to pulse on and then shut off as the ship tumbles, allowing for artificial gravity while flying and giving the drive system a duty cycle time to shed waste heat. This would give the passengers longer exposure to artificial gravity and reduce bone loss.

In this way, the nose of a ship would frequently be seen as “down” to the crew, even as they flew in the direction the nose points when the drive fires.

The crew cabin itself is likely to be an open area with sleeping bags arranged on the “floor” but could also function as a restraint system in the event of dangerous accelerations or times when the ship isn’t spinning or tumbling.

There would be one small room that could provide some privacy. The bath room would probably be the only private place on the ship. It would probably also serve as a radiation bunker that the whole crew would have to cram themselves into during radiation storms. Heavy radiation shielding around the whole cabin would be expensive and would require more fuel because more mass means more fuel is expended to accelerate the ship.

As such, the ship would need to be piloted at times from the bathroom. Just in case you were wondering.

Larger ships would likely spin on their axis. Down would become the exterior of the ship. As such, climbing toward the center of the ship on a ladder would cause a quick reduction in the apparent strength of the artificial gravity. Climbing all the way to the center of a vessel might result in severe disorientation for some.

For a ship with “Comfortable Quarters” a small room, big enough to house a small bed and a possibly a tiny desk and chair are all that is implied here. Walls are heavy and an actual bed is a luxury that requires fuel to move.

4 Replies to “Jump Temp – Crew Compartment”

  1. I think I might be misunderstanding something here. (Hi, btw.). If a ship is tumbling end over end (as opposed to spinning), then on both halves of the ship “down” shouldn’t be toward either the nose or the stern, but rather towards the direction opposite the direction of the tumble, no? So if the crew compartment is at the nose, both “down” and “up” (during the tumble) are at ninety degrees to wherever the nose is pointing at any given moment. Am I totally wrong?

  2. Hi Fred, I guess diagrams would probably be helpful here. When using angular momentum to generate artificial gravity, the occupants in that vessel fall away from the center of rotation. Imagine being spun around with your hands hanging on to a rope, your feet would feel like they’re pointing “down” and would be away from the center of rotation. If that’s still confusing, take a length of string and tie it to the handle end of a spoon. Imagine the round end as your feet. Spin the string around in a circle slowly enough that you can observe the spoon and see what happens.

    Here’s where artificial gravity is confusing, It isn’t generated by velocity, it’s generated by acceleration. Acceleration is how much your velocity is changing. Spinning (or tumbling) around a central point puts you in a constant state of acceleration because your direction is always changing and therefore your velocity is always changing.

  3. Argh, I knew this; for some reason my brain was presenting the side of the hull moving “up” during the tumble (on either some of the short axis) as what the crew would be pushed against, but you’re quite right.

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