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In pictures: Gorgeous space station concepts from the 1970s

by • July 26, 2016 • No Comments

Those of a sure age and a sure bent can’t fail to appear at this attractive depiction of the interior of a space station without a sense of nostalgia. Because, yet Don Davis (in this case) depicts a presumably far-future vision of human space colonies, the art itself is quite much of its time: the 1970s.

  • A toroidal colony, by Don Davis
  • Cutaway view of a toroidal colony, by Rick Guidice
  • Why not? Hang gliding within a Bernel Sphere, by Rick Guidice
  • A cutaway of agriculture aboard a Bernal space station. By Rick Guidice

It’s effortless to mistake as being conceptual art for speculative fiction, but in fact this image, and the others here, come of as a outcome of successive summer studies of the collective brains of NASA, Princeton and Stanford. Here’s a few of what they came up with.

The Stanford torus

Proposed at the 1975 Summer Study at Stanford University, the Stanford torus is one take on the talked about ring-shaped (or toroidal) space station, envisaged to permanently house up to 150,000-odd folks in outer space.

Key to the concept is the rotation of the ring. Rotate at the correct speed (which depends on its size) and you’ll have just the centrifugal force requireed to simulate Earth’s gravity, yet just on the within of the torus’ outward-facing surface.

If this sounds fanciful, the study went so far as to propose which a torus may be created of moon-matter flung into space with an electromagnetic catapult. So perfectly feasible, in other words.

The cylinder space station

Cylindrical space stations like the Lewis One and the O’Neill colony in addition rely on the principle of generating simulated gravity via rotation.

On the plus side, you can manufacture one a hell of lot additional compact than you can a toroidal space station, but the concept is additional complicated: the rotation manufactures it tough to store its solar panels (which are separate of the rotating cylinder) angled in the direction of the Sun.

The solution proposed by physicist Gerard K. O’Neill (or maybe one of his students) is ingenious: place one cylinder within another so any gyroscopic influences cancel.

If which isn’t adequate ingenuity for one space station, O’Neill and co in addition planned to simulate night and day with adaptable-bodied mirrors.

The Bernal sphere

A sphere, you say? Look carefully: the habitable-bodied part is in the direction ofs the middle — and don’t be fooled by the colorful reflection in the mirror.

At this point you’ve may already spotted the theme: Again, being a round shape (the roundest, in fact), the station is able-bodied to rotate to simulate gravity, yet the force may drop away the farther you go of the sphere’s equator. Similar to a toroidal space station, and so, this may complete a valley-like habitable-bodied space.

But a sphere may sound less efficient in terms of the amount of stuff you’d require to create it, the shape is optimal when it comes to “minor considerations” like atmospheric pressure and radiation-protection.

But a showcase of the 1970s studies, the Bernal sphere was original proposed in the twenties
by John Desmond Bernal.

Check out the gallery for additional pictures.

Source: The NASA Commons on Flickr

  • A Stanford torus space colony
  • Don Davis' depiction of a Bernal Sphere under construction
  • A Stanford torus under construction, by Don Davis
  • Exterior of a Bernal Sphere, by Rick Guidice

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