U:UTOPIA :: Space Colonies

In 1977, NASA's Ames Research Center summer program focused on Space Settlement. They devised a number of prototype communities for how space settlement was feasible. Below are excerpts from their findings. For more images and the entire article, click here.

Each colony houses around 10,000 people. Click on images above to enlarge.

These orbital space colonies could be wonderful places to live; about the size of a California beach town and endowed with weightless recreation, fantastic views, freedom, elbow-room in spades, and great wealth. In time, we may see hundreds of thousands of orbital space settlements in our solar system alone.

Who? You. Or at least people a lot like you. Space settlements will be a place for ordinary people.

Why? Why build space settlements? Why do weeds grow through cracks in sidewalks? Why did life crawl out of the oceans and colonize land? Because living things want to grow and expand. We have the ability to live in space, therefore we will. The key advantage of space settlements is the ability to build new land, rather than take it from someone else.

What? A space settlement is a home in orbit. Typical space settlement designs are roughly one half to a few kilometers across. A few designs are much larger. Settlements must be air tight to hold a breathable atmosphere, and must rotate to provide psuedo-gravity. Thus, people stand on the inide of the hull.

Enormous amounts of matter, probably lunar soil at first, must cover the settlements to protect inhabitants from radiation. On Earth our atmosphere does this job, but space settlements need about five tons of matter covering every square meter of a colony's hull to protect space settlers from cosmic rays and solar flares. Each settlement must be an independent biosphere. All oxygen, water, wastes, and other materials must be recycled endlessly.

A few features of orbital real estate are worth mentioning:
• Great Views
• Low-g recreation
• Environmental Independence
• The ultimate gated community
• Custom living

Survival Someday the Earth will become uninhabitable. Before then humanity must move off the planet or become extinct.