Destination Venus - Gravity, Gravity, Gravity
[This is an excerpt of a blog post I wrote for the Humans2Venus Foundation. You can read the full post here.]
A few years ago, I came across a report summarizing the data collected by Russia’s Venera missions to Venus. It turned out that 50km above the Venusian surface measured at 1G of gravity! Eureka!
Even better, at that altitude the air pressure measured roughly 1ATM, the temperature was relatively tolerable (30C-50C), and the atmosphere provided sufficient radiation protection (despite Venus being closer to the Sun and not having a magnetic field).
Of course, the downsides were the CO2-heavy atmosphere and the clouds made of sulfuric acid. Then again, we already had technologies here on Earth to offset both.
I was stunned. After almost 20 years in the space industry, this was the first time I had heard about Venus’ atmosphere being a potential destination for humanity. Why hadn’t anyone explored this possibility?
It turned out that NASA had, in fact, started seriously exploring the possibility of putting humans in the Venusian atmosphere with its “High Altitude Venus Operational Concept” (or “HAVOC”). The potential for a permanent human presence in the Venusian atmosphere seemed viable, even if it also seemed to elicit sci-fi comparisons with the “floating cities” seen in Star Wars and other films.
I could fully understand the political and economic realities that prevented NASA from adopting a “Moon, Venus, Mars, and Beyond” vision instead of its current “Moon, Mars, and Beyond” long-term plan. However, a *private* group could certainly advocate such a vision.
And so the Humans2Venus Foundation was born.