My current movie bugbear: Non-rotating with a large rotating section for the human habitat. Bonus points if the habitable part spans both the rotating and non-rotating portions and the crew can move freely between them.

It's an absurdly complex challenge to build it this way, it introduces an open set of failure modes that would not otherwise exist and there's no good reason for any of it that I can think of.

Instead, rotate the whole ship, and if there are a few things which for some reason must not be rotated (scopes, antennae and cameras, perhaps?) place them in the smallest and simplest possible unpressurised nonrotating segment at the axis.

@pieist Seems like you'd be spinning up a lot of mass that doesn't need it, like fuel and propulsion systems. Doing solar power would be harder. Depending on the ship's mission you might want zero-G labs and workspaces, and there is also the question of auxiliary craft docking (think Discovery's pods in 2001).


@chris Doesn't seem like the same scale of problem. The energy cost of spinning the ship is vanishingly small compared to that of sending it many light minutes outward into the Solar System, and if your fuel tanks or whatever don't want pseudogravity, put them at the axis. That's ideal anyway because it helps with the balancing issue as they are depleted.

@chris (Oh, 2001 depicts docking at the hub, because the space station in Act II is wholly rotating. Also, the Discovery's rotating section is wholly enclosed within the pressure hull, unlike say the one in The Martian or 2010, so they didn't have the massively problematic environmental coupling problem.)

@pieist You're quite right, the delta-v to spin up/down is fairly small. I think Discovery's spinning section probably has 75% or so of the environmental coupling needs even if enclosed in the sphere (power, water, ventilation, networking).

The PanAm docking sequence always struck me as an overly complex maneuver, as you have to map translations to a spinning reference and execute thruster burns accordingly. Hmm, wonder if I could try that in KSP...

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