Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
NASA's 1970s ideas for creating colonies between the Earth and the moon
Architizer points to a really intriguing video from NASA on the subject of space colonization. Not conquering other planets or building a base on the moon, but literally creating a human-occupied colony floating in space. This short film from the late 1970s explores the potential for building new cities in space, which the film’s official sounding narrator supposes to be “possibly the last and highest frontier.”
The film is the result of a 10-week NASA sponsored program in the summer of 1975 that pulled together engineers, scientists, architects and students to imagine convincing ideas about how humans might be able to live in space for long periods of time on a large scale.
Their idea, dubbed "Taurus," was a large doughnut of a space station, rotating regularly in a sweet spot of gravity in between the Earth and the moon. The colony would be one mile in diameter and capable of housing 10,000 people. Its homes and structures would be constructed from ore mined on the Moon, and the entire colony would be powered by solar energy. A 100-acre farm would be optimized to feed the entire colony.
Richard Johnson, chief of the life sciences experiment office at the NASA Ames research center, explains that the idea the team came up with would allow humans in space to conduct "fruitful industry," and the narrator suggests that the scheme could be built "before the year 2000."
The Architizer post also includes a bunch of cool drawings of potential space colonies, which really are a space-age vision of the future. That future may not ever come, and the space age may be dying of underfunding, but these ideas are still worth considering. The video focuses more on the how rather than the why of building this type of colony, but as environmental degradation and climate change continue, moving out to space might not be such a crazy idea.