Converting an Asteroid into a Space Station

I just ran across a lovely paper where David W. Jensen, Ph.D. describes sending a single rocket probe to a Near Earth Asteroid with a bunch of robots that … twelve years later have converted the asteroid into a massive wheeled space station. I highly recommend downloading the PDF and reading it.

What was fascinating to me personally were the parallels between the technology proposed in the paper and the technology used in my Project Saga series of novels.

In the Project Saga, humanity has gone into space in a big way, including creating thousands of habitats in the Earth-Lunar trojan points. One of the critical materials used in creation of many of these L4 and L5 stations was a magical material I named tanstran. It was formed using a solar furnace to melt and reform lunar regolith. In Jensen’s paper, the primary building material used was a solar furnace reformed asteroid regolith, anhydrous glass with excellent tensile strength properties. If I’d read his paper before I wrote the novels, I might just have cribbed a paragraph or so of his descriptions and used them in my background details.

The Jensen paper also gives a lot of good information about the materials available on easily accessible asteroids and a lot of structural details about the various designs of space stations. If you’ve read my novel Humanicide, then some of the details of rotational stability of the various types of stations will be very familiar. Anyone who wants to write about space stations ought to download the PDF and use it as research material. And like any good paper, there are lots of pointers to other research on the subject.