Answer space station / angular momentum question on Astronomy Podcast

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Offline imatfaal

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Hello Guys,

Great shows - both the N Scientist and the new Astronomers; scared to admit but I think I have listened to all episodes of both shows! 

Was a little perplexed at one of the answers given to a listener's question in the latest Naked Astronomer - the listener asked why international space station wasnt a ring that could be given spin in order to give the feeling of gravity.  the first part of the answer made total sense (that it was very hard to manufacture a torus shaped spacestation); the second section of the answer made me curious.  It was stated that due to conservation of angular momentum it would be highly difficult to impart spin; and explained how anything driving the spin from the hub (like a wheel on a car) would have to spin with equal but opposite momentum and this was impractical and dangerous.  But surely any spin would be imparted by firing paired thrusters at tangents but aligned in opposite directions and diametrically opposed (a la catherine wheel) ; they would have to be carefully balanced across the centre of mass (i think) but his would create a spin but no linear movement. 

Just my thoughts - again thanks for the great shows


ps - just thought - or you could have twinned stations joined at hub and spinning in opposite directions; now that would be cool!
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Offline daveshorts

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Compared to the amount of fuel you would need to get there I would have thought it would be quite easy to make it spin.

 Though it would make changing the direction the station was pointing very difficult due to gyroscopic effects. Plus one of the excuses for having the station is to do microgravity experiments and if you make artificial gravity it would make it rather pointless going there.