Broadcast 3074 Alice Glenn

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The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Alice Glenn; Topics: Using the Arctic Circle extreme environment for long duration spaceflight & space settlement.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See

We welcomed for the first time Alice Glenn to the show use her experience from living in Barrows, Alaska about 300 plus miles north of the Arctic Circle to plan for living in the harsh environment of space for long duration spaceflight, lunar and even Mars settlement.  Alice addressed this subject at the 2017 Starship Congress Convention held in Monterrey, CA in August 2017.  You can see her talk from the event here:  We started our 1 hour 38 minute one segment discussion by asking Alice to describe where she grew up north of the Arctic Circle and how she got interested in space.  As you will hear, she was inspired when the former Moon Walker Astronaut Dr. Jack Schmitt spoke to people in her city.  That talk inspired her to go for space and possibly even to be an astronaut.  From there she pursued an aerospace engineering education and has worked in the industry in various capacities ever since. 

We spent a good part of the early discussion talking about the extreme environment of Barrow, Alaska.  Some of the features making it an extreme environment include it being located 327 miles north of the Arctic Circle which makes it the northernmost city in the United States.  It goes from -60 degrees F to 80 degrees F with access mostly coming from the air most of the year.  60% of the residents are Eskimo and they rely on fishing, hunting and whaling which our guest described later on in some detail.  Barrow has many months of 24/7 hours of darkness, some transition between darkness and light plus time spent in 24/7 daylight.  As you will hear from Alice, the people of the area have over time developed family, cultural and related tools to be able to live, thrive and be successful in this environment be it 60 below and completely dark all the time to something a bit warmer with daylight.  Alice spent time describing the tools, the customs, the methods used by people, families, everyone there to thrive and prosper in this environment.  As you will hear, many of these traits, practices and tools can be carried forward and used for long duration spaceflight and space settlement.  Please listen carefully to what our guest talked about, the questions that helped extrapolate to going to and living on the Moon or Mars or just surviving for months in a confined spaceship.

Alice received several interesting listener emails.  One dealt with being able to get urgent or emergency medical care.  Alice talked about Barrow having a local hospital but using medivac services if needed.  She also said people were tough and self-reliant.  She talked about having native ingenuity and being able to rely on themselves and the tools when problems came up or even better, to avoid problems.  In asking our guest to apply this discussion to long duration spaceflight and space settlement, well, don't miss what our guest had to say on this and related issues.

Rick sent in an email asking about food and possibly growing vegetables based on some articles he read where this was being experimented on in harsh environments.  Alice had much to say about the Barrow food supply, the role of hunting and fishing plus bringing products in to the supermarkets, usually by air and at great costs.   While there won't be hunting or fishing on a space settlement (that we know of) or in a capsule on a long duration spaceflight, food supply for the space folks will be challenging both as to type and freshness, plus costs and many other factors.   If one things brining in food by air to Barrow, Alaska is costly, then prepare for the true costs of supplying the astronauts or space settlers. 

Listener Karen asked about people getting along with one another.  Also about getting cabin fever in the darkness and extreme cold.  Alice talked about the need to do things and to go outside even in the harsh environment.  At one point she thought being able to do some sort of EVA to get out of the space capsule would be beneficial to these crews.  Perhaps someday that will be a tool offered for coping and better adjustment but for the early days of long duration flight and space settlement, EVA will likely remain out of reach due to technical complexities and costs.   Alice was asked if virtual reality would be a substitute for getting out the capsule to avoid cabin fever.  I suggested the occupants could go to an area of the capsule and enjoy a virtual reality excursion on a beach in Costa Rica.  Alice was not so fond of the virtual reality option but listen to all of what she said on the subject. 

Marshall called and talked about going to a special place on the ISS such as the cupola to moderate cabin fever or other issues.  He also wanted to know if visiting neighbors was an option to going outside.  If so, visiting with the space crew might be an option for the crew at different times.  Marshall also asked what or guest thought would be the minimum size necessary for a community with community events.  Alice said the smallest village in the area of Barrow had about 300 people in it. 

Kim called in from Mexico. Kim was present at the Starship Congress when Alice presented her talk.  She wanted to know about the whaling crews working together and the social structure as that might prove a parallel for working together in challenging space settlement situations.  Alice spent some time explaining the structure of whaling crews and teams, plus the place for whaling in their culture.  This was a fascinating discussion so don't miss it.  In addition, let us know what you think about this by posting on the blog.  Do you see how much of this could be extrapolated to the space environment and settlements?

Other listener questions came up. One wanted to know about the supply of electricity and if they had to ration or use it carefully.  We talked about where Barrow got its power.  From what Alice said, it did not appear that Barrow had power supply issues.  Of course for spaceflight, one would think there would be power limitations and usage rules.  Later in the discussion based on listener input and quick Google searches, it appeared that Barrow power came from fossil fuels in the area.

As we were approaching the end of our program, Alice had much to say about the Barrow culture and the type of culture that would probably be needed for the spaceflight crews.  Tourism was addressed as Barrow does have some tourism.  My takeaway on tourism is that tourists want to visit extreme environmental places and I assume this will be the same for space.  The economics of space tourism will depend on many variables.  For now, I think it is too early predict the economic success of space tourism even if it is profitable in an extreme location such as Barrow.  As for space tourism, I think we will find out soon enough just how profitable it might be.  The final question by email was from Paul in New York wanting to know about the role of media and entertainment in coping with the extreme environment.  Don't miss what Alice said about entertainment, TV, the media, movies and such.  You may be surprised.  Hint:  People and relationships count for more than entertainment.

Alice offered us closing comments.  One bit of advice was to stay busy but listen to all of her remarks.  Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Alice Glenn through me.




living in extreme environments! Starship Congress speaker

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04 Mar 2018 Alice Glenn
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