TechCountering space's harsh impact: Airbus's LOOP concept offers artificial gravity

Countering space's harsh impact: Airbus's LOOP concept offers artificial gravity

Airbus LOOP Concept
Airbus LOOP Concept
Images source: © Airbus

1:00 PM EST, January 16, 2024

For beings acclimatized to Earth's climate and gravity, even a short stint of space travel presents extreme challenges. Astronauts returning from the International Space Station tend to have reduced bone density, and their muscles are not as efficient as they were pre-mission. The lack of gravity also disorients the nervous system, and factors like isolation and diet can negatively impact mental health.

Airbus's LOOP: Making space travel more tolerable

Addressing these problems is far from straightforward. However, Space reports that Airbus has conceived a project that might alleviate some of these issues.

LOOP is the name given to the conceptual space station designed by Airbus engineers. The station's layout is split into three sections. One functions as a living area, another is dedicated to science, and the third serves as a centrifuge generating artificial gravity. This offers inhabitants a semblance of life on Earth and stimulates the muscles, bones, and joints that have been weakened through the absence of gravity. These sections are vertically arranged, with a "green" greenhouse running through the center.

Three decks of Airbus LOOP
Three decks of Airbus LOOP© Airbus

“LOOP is designed to make long-term stays in Space comfortable and enjoyable for its inhabitants, while supporting efficient and sustainable operations at the same time. It builds on everything that has been learnt over the decades and fully exploits the potential of tomorrow’s technologies in order to best support humanity’s future in Space,” the Airbus representatives commented in an official statement.

Creating comfortable conditions in outer space

In this project, Airbus is providing not only healthier and more habitable conditions for astronauts, but also simply much more room than the existing space stations. When the International Space Station (ISS) concludes its tenure, LOOP could possibly step in as its replacement—sometime in the early part of the next decade.

The LOOP, with a diameter of approximately 26 feet, has been designed to be easily integrated with a rocket carrier. This implies that putting such a station into orbit would require just one launch, and it would be ready for habitation virtually instantly. Theoretically, this also creates the possibility of providing astronauts with similar living conditions for their whole journey—for instance, to Mars. But that, of course, is a far-off vision.

  • Inside the LOOP station
  • Inside the LOOP station
  • Inside the LOOP station
[1/3] Inside the LOOP stationImages source: © Airbus
Airbus LOOP outside
Airbus LOOP outside© Airbus
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