How Fast Should a Space Station Rotate?

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
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How Fast Should a Space Station Rotate?

Postby kentagions » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:42 am

In Soft Science Fiction, artificial gravity is produced by gravity plates and repulsor or attractor fields. Sometimes, the author doesn't mention it at all, leaving the reader to wonder what fantastic mechanism keeps characters on the floor. Soft Scifi, or Fantasy in space, doesn't need to adhere to real-world science, it just needs to be consistent. Really.

Hard Scifi, however, needs to adhere to Physical Laws as they exist in our universe. Long-term habitation of a space station requires artificial gravity due to the serious detrimental effects of microgravity on the human body. The only way to generate artificial gravity is with centrifugal force, something done on carnival rides for a hundred years. Easy, right?

The three parameters needed are Radius (From rotational center), Angular Velocity (Period of Rotation in RPM) and Centripetal Acceleration (The force - in gravities - at the perimeter). Gravity equals Radius times (two pi over Angular Velocity) squared. Angular Velocity equals two pi times the square root of Radius over Centripetal Acceleration (Where Centripetal Acceleration is greater than zero). Basically, the bigger the radius of a spinning ship (or space station), the slower it has to rotate to produce one gravity at the habitation level. Easy peasy.

Or go here:

Don't put the calculations in your writing because it will limit your audience. Definitely, know how fast your space structure is rotating so you get a feel for the setting, how it looks from outside looking in and inside looking out. If it's spinning too slow, basketball games will be amazing. If it's spinning too fast, your characters will be really short.

Best of luck,

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Re: How Fast Should a Space Station Rotate?

Postby amoskalik » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:42 am

Very cool. Thanks Kent!
Trajectory HM R R HM R R HM HM HM R R R R HM

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