August 20, 2019

NASA retro guide to future homes: Stunning images of space colonies reveal how we could be living in 2100

NASA retro guide to future homes: Stunning images of space colonies reveal how we could be living in 2100

Drip… drip… drip… more soft disclosure. Visit the link at the end of the article for much more information about the Orbital Space Settlement, and the reference links for more information. — Editor

The options for where you can live are vast, with humans now inhabiting every continent, including Antarctica. But what about planets other than Earth? Forty years ago, Nasa released beautiful images of potential space colonies, suggesting that by the year 2100, we could have huge habitats floating around the planet.

By Shivaji Best

  • Retro-futurist artwork was commissioned by Nasa in 1975, to show what potential space colonies could look like
  • The three concepts all used circular designs which would generate centrifugal force to create artificial gravity
  • The largest, named ‘Cylindrical Colony’ could hold up to one million people at a time 
  • The drawings may have inspired ‘Cooper Station’, a satellite seen in Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film ‘Interstellar’
Dr Al Globus, a contractor for the Nasa Ames Research Centre in California, says humanity could soon begin to build space settlements. A space settlement (artist's illustration) would be a large structure like a town or city that would house hundreds or thousands of people
Dr Al Globus, a contractor for the Nasa Ames Research Centre in California, says humanity could soon begin to build space settlements. A space settlement (artist’s illustration) would be a large structure like a town or city that would house hundreds or thousands of people
In the rotating section the force of rotation provides artificial gravity for the inhabitants, letting them move around like they would on Earth. At the centre of the structure though there would be zero-gravity, as there would be no rotation here
In the rotating section the force of rotation provides artificial gravity for the inhabitants, letting them move around like they would on Earth. At the centre of the structure though there would be zero-gravity, as there would be no rotation here

Dr Al Globus, a Nasa contractor and space settlement expert, said: ‘Whether [space settlements] will happen or not is really hard to say. Whether it can happen, absolutely.

‘If we as a people decide to do it, we can do it. We have the scientific capability, financial capability, there is simply no question we can do it.’

The retro-futurist artwork was commissioned by Nasa in 1975, in the hopes of illustrating what potential space colonies could look like.

A team from the Nasa Ames Research Centre, led by Gerard O’Neill, included architects, researchers, and scientists, who assessed whether the ideas were feasible.

An illustrator eventually drew up three concepts to present to Nasa – the Bernal Sphere, the Toroidal Colony and the Cylindrical Colony (which could hold one million people at a time).

The three concepts all used circular designs which would generate centrifugal force to create artificial gravity. They would also all have cast solar arrays to power the rotation.

The inside of each structure showed beautiful grassy landscapes offering comfortable living in modern homes.

Dr Globus said it would be ‘a place to live, raise your kids, where your friends and family have Thanksgiving dinner and celebrate Christmas, and visit Earth on vacation.’

Mr O’Neill speculated that with the right technological developments, construction could begin as soon as 1990.

This may seem optimistic in hindsight, but at the time the designs were drawn up, advances in space technology were booming – the last manned mission to the Moon was three years previous and Skylab, the United States’ first space station, was orbiting Earth.

Many designs rely upon a central cylinder around which is a rotating habitat (artist's illustration shown). In the rotating section the force of rotation provides artificial gravity for the inhabitants, letting the move around like they would on Earth
Many designs rely upon a central cylinder around which is a rotating habitat (artist’s illustration shown). In the rotating section the force of rotation provides artificial gravity for the inhabitants, letting the move around like they would on Earth
The inside of each structure showed beautiful grassy landscapes offering comfortable living in modern homes. Dr Globus said it would be ‘a place to live, raise your kids, where your friends and family have Thanksgiving dinner and celebrate Christmas, and visit Earth on vacation’
The inside of each structure showed beautiful grassy landscapes offering comfortable living in modern homes. Dr Globus said it would be ‘a place to live, raise your kids, where your friends and family have Thanksgiving dinner and celebrate Christmas, and visit Earth on vacation’
The illustration shows that the Bernal Structure might even be able to have agriculture, while the outer hull would need to be partially covered in solar cells
The illustration shows that the Bernal Structure might even be able to have agriculture, while the outer hull would need to be partially covered in solar cells
The exterior of the Bernal Sphere shows the cylindrical structure that would generate centrifugal force to create artificial gravity
The exterior of the Bernal Sphere shows the cylindrical structure that would generate centrifugal force to create artificial gravity

While the timeline for the space settlements is up for debate, Dr Globus is confident it will happen sooner or later.

He said: ‘In two or three decades we might have a couple of small hotels [in orbit], and people moving in on a regular basis.

‘All that is on a time scale measured in decades, or in the worst case centuries.’

However starting to build a space settlement now is not a good idea, he added, as technology and infrastructure are not yet sufficient.

He says we need to progress through several hoops before settling in space can become a viable option.

One of these is space tourism. Several private companies such as Boeing and SpaceX are busy building manned spacecraft, while others like Bigelow Aerospace are planning to build ‘space hotels’.

In the forty years since Mr O’Neill’s designs, many people have taken inspiration and created their own derivatives.

One of the most well known of these is ‘Cooper Station’, a satellite seen in Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film ‘Interstellar’, which many suggest was based on the Cylinder Colony.

But living in space does not have to stop at orbiting Earth.

Once a large, floating colony has been built, Dr Globus explains that other locations in the solar system can be explored.

Perhaps, using asteroids for additional material, a space settlement could be placed around the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos.

It may yet be centuries before an object the size of O’Neill’s colonies is ever constructed in space. For now we’ll have to live with the images of what might have been — and what, just possibly, might still be to come.

Living in space does not have to stop at orbiting Earth. Once a large, floating colony has been built, Dr Globus explains that other locations in the solar system can be explored
Living in space does not have to stop at orbiting Earth. Once a large, floating colony has been built, Dr Globus explains that other locations in the solar system can be explored
This image shows how construction of the Torus Structure might occur. However, Dr Globus said that starting to build a space settlement now is not a good idea as technology and infrastructure are not yet sufficient
This image shows how construction of the Torus Structure might occur. However, Dr Globus said that starting to build a space settlement now is not a good idea as technology and infrastructure are not yet sufficient
The Cylinder Structure would be big enough to hold one million people. It could even have structures like suspension bridges (pictured)
The Cylinder Structure would be big enough to hold one million people. It could even have structures like suspension bridges (pictured)
In the forty years since Mr O'Neill's designs, many people have taken inspiration and created their own derivatives. One of the most well known of these is 'Cooper Station' (pictured), a satellite seen in Christopher Nolan's 2014 film 'Interstellar', which many suggest was based on the Cylinder Colony
In the forty years since Mr O’Neill’s designs, many people have taken inspiration and created their own derivatives. One of the most well known of these is ‘Cooper Station’ (pictured), a satellite seen in Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film ‘Interstellar’, which many suggest was based on the Cylinder Colony
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Source: Daily Mail

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