NASA’s 1970s Space Colony Designs

by Matt Forcey

In the 1970’s, NASA’s Ames Research Center collaborated with Princeton and Stanford universities to study the posibilities of the human colonization of our solar system.  Under the direction of Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill, the working group developed concepts for giant spaceships that would eventually orbit around Earth, The Moon, or other planetary bodies.  Based on these initial findings, NASA held design competitions regularly with hopes of adding pictures to the data. 

Here is a intriguing set of images, developed at NASA Ames in the 70s, with the guideline that the facaility be large enough to house 10,000 people. 

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According to NASA “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. Building these settlements will be an evolutionary event in magnitude similar to, if not greater than, ocean-based Life’s colonization of land half a billion years ago.”

The full Who’s, What’s, Where’s, and How’s of the Settlement Project are available from NASA.

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