In the 1970s, scientists working with NASA were given a challenge: to imagine what life might look like if human beings were forced to leave the Earth due to a natural cataclysm. Physicists from Princeton University, the NASA Ames Research Center, and Stanford University came together to create artistic renderings of massive colonies that could hold the population of Earth in orbit with all the comforts of home.
The illustrations show three different types of colonies orbiting the sun, which can each hold between 10,000 and a million people. One of the smaller models is a ring-shaped vessel, containing all the comforts of home. The ring would be long and narrow, only about half a mile wide.
These colonies wouldn’t be the sterile metal and glass environments depicted in so many science fiction movies. There would be trees, lush gardens, and even rivers running the length of the interior. The illustrators envisioned environments with cities and forests, hills and lakes. The colonists would even be able to look up and see the sky, although it might not look exactly like the view on Earth. As the colony orbited the sun, residents would be able to see passing planets.
Other ships would contain a number of round tubes with separate levels inside. Different floors could be divided up to allow farming and the raising of different types of livestock. The ship would feature a massive radio tower to allow it to communicate easily with neighboring colonies. A massive engine in the center of the ship would be visible from the surface. 10,000 people would be able to fit comfortably inside this design.
Even larger, cylindrical ships would be able to hold up to a million residents, bringing the total population close to that of a moderately-sized city. Originally, scientists expected we’d be able to travel to the first space colony by 2060. That means we still have 45 more years to make life in space a reality.
Via Tech Insider
Images via NASA Ames Research Center