Visioning Spacesteads

Space, the final frontier…

Humans have been imagining what it would be like to setup homesteads and live in space for about as long as they’ve been imagining how to get there, but the process didn’t really take off until after we actually got there.

Back in the 1970’s NASA dedicated some resources to the endeavor, and the results were the inspiration for untold numbers of sci-fi books and movies. Here’s a GeoBeats video that shows some of the fantastic concepts that NASA concocted along with a link to the Business Insider article upon which the video was based.

NASA once envisioned life after Earth in these fantastical floating cities (Leanna Garfield, Business Insider)

Great stuff!

Of course, most of those fantastic visions bear no resemblance to reality, so far.

Luckily, we don’t have to just imagine what it would be like to live in space anymore, because there have been people living up on the International Space Station for quite awhile now. Thanks to National Geographic we can all get a sense of what it’s like up there because they made a great 360° video narrated by astronauts Chris Hadfield, Mae Jemison, Mike Massimino and Nicole Stott.

The European Space Agency also has a YouTube Channel with 360° videos of each module.
Space Station 360 (European Space Agency)
You can even explore the station in Google Street View!
International Space Station (Google Street View)
Here’s an excellent blog post by The Science Geek with more history and information.
The International Space Station (The Science Geek)

That’s what it’s like to live in space now, but there’s a new space race going on, and it’s led to a bevy of new visions for space habitats. For example, Bigelow Aerospace, who already helped add an expandable module to the International Space Station, has plans for “space hotels.” Here’s a CNN video that features a tour of a prototype.

Bigelow Aerospace’s visions don’t stop with space around the Earth — they also have plans to send their inflatables into orbit around the Moon!

If the Moon is a bit too local for you, what about Mars?

It turns out that NASA is still in the business of envisioning space habitats, and there are some hot-off-the-press concepts of what it would be like to live on Mars. Just last week they announced the results of their 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, and here’s their promotional video that showcases the winning concepts.

You might think that spacesteading on Mars is as far out as it gets, but while it’s true that Mars is the farthest away anyone is planning to settle, it isn’t the only candidate for interplanetary settlement. There’s also a movement afoot to settle our nearest neighbor, Venus.

Again, NASA has done some explaining about why that isn’t as crazy as it sounds and illustrated how it would look. Here’s a brief explanation of NASA’s High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC).

Better yet, NASA’s gone so far as to also envision a space station on Venus and created this awesome two minute 360° video to show how that would look.

So, while we may not be moving into huge space cities with artificial gravity any time soon, there are some awesome space habitats on real drawing boards.

If you’re still a bit bummed about the discrepancies between early visions current realities, then maybe you can at least get some solace by immersing yourself in the amazing fictional settlements that were clearly inspired by those early visions.

Space stations and habitats in fiction (Wikipedia)

If that doesn’t cheer you up, and you don’t want to wait many, many years or have millions of dollars to spare, you could just head to Singapore and try out MET a space pod 🙂

Find out more about this stuff …
Welcome to the New Space Age (Jeremy Keehn, Bloomberg)
Billionaire Space Club (Smithsonian Channel)
New Space (Wikipedia)

Space Frontier Foundation
Annual Space Symposium
New Worlds Institute/Conference

The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space (Gerard K. O’Neill)

Find out more about space ships and space in general