You may never be able to escape the effects of gravity (in its entirety), but you can reduce it, freeing yourself from the stress of lifting objects of greater density than yourself.
One of the best places to do this is by launching yourself beyond the sky in order to get a glimpse of the heavens above. But staying there for long periods could have harmful effects upon your health, hurting not only your heart, bones, and immune system, but also aiding the deadly bacteria trying to kill you.
Currently scientists are trying to find ways to combat this issue, using everything from drugs to brain surgery. Although these options may eventually liberate us from the side effects of microgravity, it may be “less messy” to find a technological solution (as it may have less side effects).
While futuristic technologies such as plasma rockets and space elevator stations may hold much promise for our young race (gravity wise), we may be better off constructing orbital space stations–with a Bigelow twist.
Having already successfully launched two inflatable space stations (with a third one planned for human habitation), Bigelow plans on launching these inflatable modules, and connecting them together to form a space station that may rival the ISS.
But what if Bigelow Aerospace could alter the design of their inflatable modules to make several of them connect in a circle? They could then slowly rotate the entire structure (note: which may be an engineer’s nightmare) in order to simulate artificial gravity via centrifugal force.
Bigelow’s modules on the other hand, may not only be cheaper to launch into space, but may be safer as well, as its thick outer skin may be able to take “a greater punch” than its metallic rivals.
These inflatable modules may also more expendable than their more rigid cousins, as it would be much easier to replace a module or two (like a Pontoon bridge), than an entire section of a more traditional space station.
Whether or not Bigelow eventually decides to move in this direction, only time will reveal. But if so, Bigelow could ultimately allow us to safely venture out into the blackness of space, without the fear of losing our health in the process.
Editors Note (3/31): Ken Talton of the Brickmuppet Blog points out that the engineering/math to rotate
Bigelow’s inflatable space stations in order to simulate gravity has already been figured out, and can be seen over here (pdf).
Update (3/31): The space stations are not exactly like Bigelow, but they do provide some “hard science” towards the idea.