Humans Could Colonise Venus in Giant Solar-powered Airships

NASA is exploring the idea of sending humans to live in solar-powered airships in the upper atmosphere of Venus. The High Altitude Venus Concept (HAVOC) mission would use a helium-filled, solar powered airship around 130 metres long with a small capsule for carrying humans below it. Venus hasn’t been explored much as a destination for humans because it’s surface is so inhospitable. The most logical planet for human exploration has always been considered to be Mars – as it’s the most Earth-like place in our Solar System.However, a team of researchers at Langley Research Centre is looking into the idea of sending people to Venus – but not the inhospitable surface, but the clouds above it. The surface of Venus would subject the human body to 92 times the pressure found on Earth and temperatures of around 500 degrees Celsius – hot enough to melt LEAD. But the upper atmosphere – at around 50 kilometres above the surface – has pressures and gravity similar to that on Earth. Furthermore, Venus has unique protection from solar radiation – just 40% more than the average found on Earth – compared with Mars where astronauts would be exposed to radiation that’s 40 times as much as on Earth. Venus has the added benefit of being quite a bit closer to Earth than Mars is – getting there and back with a month’s stay would still take more than a year, but a Mars mission would most likely take two or three years. It would be a big challenge to get the airship to Venus. It would have to travel there folded up inside a spacecraft before unfolding and inflating in helium. It all sounds quite gentle and lovely, but entering Venus’s atmosphere would involve speeds of up to 7,200 metres per second, and would need an aeroshell and a parachute to slow it down. It would be an incredibly risky and complicated process to get the blimp inflated under these conditions – landing on Venus is simply not an option.
After research missions, the eventual plan would be to set up permanent colonise in airships in Venus’s atmosphere.

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