In a time when a thing called the space race was in full swing, technological advance and cocky egos made a lot of people, mostly scientists, get disillusioned with visions of grander for the future.  In the 1970’s Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill with the help of NASA’s Ames Research Center and Stanford University showed that we can build giant orbiting spaceships and live in them. These space stations would have been giant enclosed-circle cylinders that housed at least 10,000 people, giant ecosystems, lakes, farm areas (with tractors plowing the fields inside the space station…), entire towns actually wrapped inside the station.

Considering that in 2011, the International Space Station, which is barely closing on its 25 years completion program and costs tens of billions of dollars, looks like a big tin can compared to the stunning futuristic representations from below, one could think that people were a bit ecstatic concerning the 2000s back then. But that doesn’t really matter, since the image gallery below not only offers some brilliant eye candy to feast upon, but also some intense stimulation for ones senses and spirit. I can only image how the managers of this NASA settlement project and the artists drawing it must have felt when it was finally completed.

Source: NASA via Dvice.

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Copyright 2011 ZME Science

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    The sad thing is that, had we the will and foresight, we could be very close to this by now. But all of the research money went to “defense,” “ultimate driving machines, $9,000 washer/dryers, and really kick-ass home theatres – now in 3D. What epic achievements.

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    Are you serious? Look at the massive physical obstacles we would have had to overcome to be “very close” to anything resembling this. There would be millions of tonnes of material we need to somehow get up up there. Somehow, we would have had to either prefab it all down here on Earth, or create and assemble it in space. A monumental feat as nothing of this size has been made on Earth, let alone in orbit. Then there would be all the supporting technologies that would have to be developed to sustain such a thing. Even if humanity worked together as a whole, gave its all, we would not have been able to be there in 30, 40 years, unless something major changes in the way physics works in our world.

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    The original idea was that the resources/minerals/slag/filler would come from the moon and the asteroids. No big lift from earth. The big colonies in space were supposed to earn money by creating solar power stations for earth.

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    In the years since I posted that comment, there has been much serious discussion and thought on asteroid mining. Even so, there would need to be thousands of tonnes of equipment and material you'd have to get up there just to start the industrial process. Drillers, smelters, presses and all the associated machinery would have to be put into orbit before we could star to process the raw materials from the moon/asteroids.

    A bit more feasible but given the payload of most rockets, especially at that time, were pitifully small it would have been at a great cost to kick things off in space.

    That said I hope SpaceX achieves it's goals in its timeframe so I can visit Mars in my life :)

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