PDA

View Full Version : Dwarves in space



Brown Motie
2016-Jan-30, 05:14 PM
Is there a reason why dwarves or small individuals are not preferred for space travel? There seems to be many benefits. In horse racing, small individuals have long been preferred as jockeys.

DaveC426913
2016-Jan-30, 06:12 PM
The skills of an individual for a space flight far outweigh the savings in mass. Spaceflight is very tricky and dangerous.

schlaugh
2016-Jan-30, 06:23 PM
The primary form of dwarfism is Achondroplasia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achondroplasia). If you focus only on this one variation you'll find it carries a number of significant medical issues, any one of which (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dwarfism/basics/complications/con-20032297)in a person without the condition would likely violate the health and physical requirements for astronauts wanting to join NASA. Little people (to use a somewhat more polite term) in space would face much stronger health risks.

From the NASA site on astronaut selection (http://astronauts.nasa.gov/content/broch00.htm):


Ability to pass the NASA long-duration Astronaut physical, which includes the following specific requirements:

Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20, each eye. The use of glasses is acceptable.

The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are allowed. Note that such surgeries are permitted, but not required for potential applicants.

Since all crewmembers will be expected to fly aboard a specific spacecraft vehicle and perform Extravehicular Activities (space walks), applicants must meet the anthropometric requirements for both the specific vehicle and the extravehicular activity mobility unit (space suit). Applicants brought in for an interview will be evaluated to ensure they meet the anthropometric requirements.

DaveC426913
2016-Jan-30, 06:54 PM
A better question might be why don't they prefer women, who, on average, mass less than men, but are equivalent in skills.

publiusr
2016-Jan-30, 08:29 PM
It really isn't going to matter that much.

What you want is margin.

All the talk about smaller occupants, shaving off any mass where you can--all that led to American rocketry being over-optimized and under-powered.

We used to have this huge gap in rocket payloads between the old Atlas IIAS and Titan IV.

The EELVs--to their credit, I must admit--did most of what the old ALS/NLS programs called for--filling the gaps in capability.

For the longest time, payloads dominated over rocketry.

Imagine a haughty shingle salesmen who makes a roof--then tells you to build a house under it.

That's where we were for a long time. Sats would rely on the rocket to do many things--not just a ride.

Then came for a call to make rockets larger, and expect the sats to pretty much take care of themselves.

ALS/NLS was also to give us shuttle-derived heavy lift--something we are only now working on.

-----------------------------------

The Russians had no fear of LV size. Instead of hunting every hair, and shaving off every last pound--their philosophy was: "don't over-think the payload, just make the rocket bigger."

The size of astronauts then becomes less bothersome. That's the direction we need to take.

DaveC426913
2016-Jan-30, 10:32 PM
So, $13,000 per kilogram for an Atlas is just hogwash? We have extra space? cuz there's few things I'd like to get on a space mission if they're not concerned about mass anymore.

Solfe
2016-Jan-31, 01:35 AM
I'm five four if I slouch and can survive off of coffee and ramen noodles for extremely long periods of time. Sign me up.

Brown Motie
2016-Jan-31, 03:05 AM
Think about it: They could have built ISS at half the scale and saved a ton of money...

pindo
2016-Jan-31, 03:18 AM
Think about it: They could have built ISS at half the scale and saved a ton of money...

They could have built it on the ground and saved even more!

But seriously, not so sure that everything is going to scale that way. Have a look at some of the equipment and other things on the ISS.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station

Some of the things in those pictures are not going to scale that way.

So if you could have extra-small people running the place, it would have saved something, but not half.

Maybe selective breeding/genetic engineering can produce a new race of extra-small people more suitable for space exploration.

publiusr
2016-Jan-31, 08:46 PM
So, $13,000 per kilogram for an Atlas is just hogwash? We have extra space? cuz there's few things I'd like to get on a space mission if they're not concerned about mass anymore.

Cube sats are going to be hitching a ride in the coming Orion mission--like the lunar flashlight.
http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/04/08/nasa-adding-to-list-of-cubesats-flying-on-first-sls-mission/

DonM435
2016-Jan-31, 10:43 PM
I recall reading some sf writer suggesting that amputees could be useful in certain space applications. E.g., having no legs wouldn't be such an inconvenience in a Zero-g environment, and the astronaut would take up less space.

swampyankee
2016-Jan-31, 11:06 PM
The skills of an individual for a space flight far outweigh the savings in mass. Spaceflight is very tricky and dangerous.

Generally, the smallest person that can be accommodated by the aircraft use for flight training of astronauts, especially pilots, is about 65 in tall. I believe Pete Conrad was very close to the lower bound of height, as restricted by the hardware. There's also a fairly stringent upper limit, which I think is about 76 in tall, although there's also a specific limit on torso length. The 64 in lower bound will eliminate about 2% of males and about 50% of women.

For your second question (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?159971-Dwarves-in-space&p=2338994#post2338994), do remember that historical societal constraints have women under-represented in STEM fields, and behavior by people like Geoff Marcy (http://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-ra-abcarian-astronomer-resigns-20151019-column.html) has certainly not encouraged women to go into STEM.

ciderman
2016-Feb-01, 12:39 AM
Don, sounds like Arthur C Clarkes Islands In The Sky (1952), the first SF book I remember reading, when I was a child at primary school.

Certainly set a trend for me. :)

Swift
2016-Feb-01, 01:52 AM
I recall reading some sf writer suggesting that amputees could be useful in certain space applications. E.g., having no legs wouldn't be such an inconvenience in a Zero-g environment, and the astronaut would take up less space.
Larry Niven's Footfall had a Russian cosmonaut character like that. I have vague memories of a similar character in another book.

DonM435
2016-Feb-01, 01:55 AM
The concept does, of course, have dramatic possibilities.

pindo
2016-Feb-01, 02:48 AM
and behavior by people like Geoff Marcy (http://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-ra-abcarian-astronomer-resigns-20151019-column.html) has certainly not encouraged women to go into STEM.

Yes, but I know plenty of people encouraging women to go into STEM by exhibiting similar behaviour in alternative fields.

schlaugh
2016-Feb-01, 02:48 AM
Heinlein's long story Waldo is about an engineer with Myasthenia gravis who preferred to live in a space station. The engineer is named Waldo.

One of his inventions were remote manipulator arms, which today are often called waldoes.

swampyankee
2016-Feb-01, 05:06 PM
Yes, but I know plenty of people encouraging women to go into STEM by exhibiting similar behaviour in alternative fields.

Alas, true. I once worked with a man who went into a full blown hissy fit when a woman was promoted in the engineering group he, she, and I were in. That she did quite different work than did he seemed quite irrelevant to him: he seemed to believe he was the man, so he deserved the promotion.

Brown Motie
2016-Feb-01, 07:02 PM
Alas, true. I once worked with a man who went into a full blown hissy fit when a woman was promoted in the engineering group he, she, and I were in. That she did quite different work than did he seemed quite irrelevant to him: he seemed to believe he was the man, so he deserved the promotion.

OK, I think you are going off-topic now... but why not create a thread called "Women in space"? I would like to post in in too.

schlaugh
2016-Feb-01, 11:35 PM
OK, I think you are going off-topic now... but why not create a thread called "Women in space"? I would like to post in in too.

Well, why don't you? :)

slang
2016-Feb-02, 12:30 AM
OK, I think you are going off-topic now... but why not create a thread called "Women in space"? I would like to post in in too.

If you have a problem with a post, from whoever (even a moderators), report it and let the mods handle it, please.

However, the engineering motie (with limited speech?) is right: let's not turn this into a thread about other under or over appreciated groups in space. Not even pigs.

Jens
2016-Feb-02, 07:25 AM
A better question might be why don't they prefer women, who, on average, mass less than men, but are equivalent in skills.

Or another possibility would be Pygmy people, who have short stature but are otherwise (as far as I know) equivalently healthy to other human groups. As others have said, I think that the amount of volume in a space station that is actually related to the height of the astronauts is not that significant. A more interesting question might be finding astronauts who have a smaller need for oxygen or food or water, since these presumably take up considerable space and energy.

swampyankee
2016-Feb-02, 03:24 PM
Or another possibility would be Pygmy people, who have short stature but are otherwise (as far as I know) equivalently healthy to other human groups. As others have said, I think that the amount of volume in a space station that is actually related to the height of the astronauts is not that significant. A more interesting question might be finding astronauts who have a smaller need for oxygen or food or water, since these presumably take up considerable space and energy.

I remember reading that they found main reason for the relatively short stature of the Pygmy peoples was inadequate nutrition, not genetics.

DonM435
2016-Feb-02, 03:26 PM
Criswell, the wacky futurist (e.g., Plan Nine From Outer Space) used to predict that the first man in space would be a pregnant woman -- because they could withstand stress far better than any man.

No doubt this was for comedic purposes, but it follows our line of thinking here.

Jens
2016-Feb-03, 01:24 AM
I remember reading that they found main reason for the relatively short stature of the Pygmy peoples was inadequate nutrition, not genetics.

I don't think so. This article (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140818-pygmy-phenotype-africa-short-dna-genetics-science/) is from 2014, so pretty recent. But I do think there is valid speculation that the short stature evolved as a response to the requirement for low-calorie living.

Noclevername
2016-Feb-05, 08:50 PM
Larry Niven's Footfall had a Russian cosmonaut character like that. I have vague memories of a similar character in another book.

Flight Of The Dragonfly aka Rocheworld by Robert Forward. The ship's hydroponic ecology expert was born legless on the first space colony, and spends most of his time in microgravity by choice. (Given that so do all the other characters once the ship launches, the story's alternate-history universe must have found better medical treatments for the effects of extended freefall than we currently have.)

Solfe
2016-Feb-05, 11:04 PM
I don't know if "building to scale" is the right concept. Little people tend to have normal sized body parts mixed with shorter than average body parts. A small person's head, hands and feet might be normal sized. As I understand it, it is a big pain in the butt for a host of reasons. Clothes shopping must be horrible.

I am pretty small, so a little person might have the same physical dimensions as my torso, but the legs and hips could be markedly different.

One guy I know drives a school bus. I would never drive something so large because I have this hang up that I am small. Clearly, it is just training, experience and confidence because he is a lot smaller than me. Whatever is going on in my head doesn't even phase him, because he knows what he is doing and I don't. That and I'd go crazy with a bus full of children.

DonM435
2016-Feb-05, 11:17 PM
I seem to recall an early Isaac Asimov story -- I think it's The Callistan Menace -- wherein some kid who's stowed away on a space mission is the only one small enough to fit into an old space suit (which once belonged to a diminutive astronaut) to save the day.

swampyankee
2016-Feb-06, 01:46 AM
There is also a (completely stupid) social bias that "taller is better." For people in a given field, salary offers on college graduation correlate better with height than with grades.

publiusr
2016-Feb-07, 09:04 PM
I recall reading some sf writer suggesting that amputees could be useful in certain space applications. E.g., having no legs wouldn't be such an inconvenience in a Zero-g environment, and the astronaut would take up less space.

Less health problems than a lot of little people have--and easier to keep the core warm.