The possibility of establishing human colonies on other planets is a topic that increasingly captivates us all. Architecture will play a fundamental role in this process in space, as it will be necessary to create structures that can withstand life in this extraterrestrial environment. In this article, I will tell you how architects could design buildings and structures that can support life in a space colony.
Architecture in space and its challenges
Architecture in space presents unique challenges due to the lack of gravity and the extreme conditions of outer space. Architects will need to design buildings and structures that can withstand radiation, extreme temperatures, and the lack of atmospheric pressure. In addition, they will need to consider the need to supply water, oxygen, and food to the colony, which will require innovative design solutions.
NASA’s space policy The Trump administration changed the priority of the White House’s space policy in 2017, ordering a NASA manned program to the Moon as a transition to Mars. In 2019, the Artemis program was officially established to put humans back on the Moon. All this with the idea of also considering establishing a colony.
Artemis and architecture from the Moon to Mars
NASA has published a study called “Architecture from the Moon to Mars” or M2M to analyze the possibility of manned trips beyond low orbit with the infrastructure of Artemis. The document establishes that the goals are science, the inspiration of new generations, and the global influence of the United States. It also reminds us that the end of the Artemis program is to explore the south pole of the Moon and establish a lunar base in that area.
Artemis, architecture, and colonization in space
Artemis missions would allow two people to step on the Moon for about six days each year. This would be at least until, from the Artemis VIII mission, a small lunar base is available for longer periods. These stays on the surface, along with longer stays on board the Gateway station, can be used to plan a flight to Mars. The report also suggests that the infrastructure of Artemis be used to implement technologies that can be adapted to Mars, such as ISRU, cryogenic propellant storage for long seasons, or the development of advanced electricity generation systems such as compact nuclear fusion reactors.
Elon Musk and space architecture designs
Taking all the NASA plans out, we have Elon Musk, for example. Regarding this, one of the highlighted designs is the “Crater House” designed by architect Amey Kandalgaonkar inspired by Elon. The house is shaped like a UFO and is located on a Martian crater. It has a cactus garden that combines with the red color of Mars and a pool whose steps emulate space waves.
Architecture in space and resistant structures
Returning more fully to what space architecture is, the first consideration is the design of resistant structures. Due to the lack of gravity, structures in space must be designed to withstand loads in all directions. That means they would not only be oriented downward as on Earth. This means that the materials used to build the structures must be more resistant and durable than the materials used on Earth. Additionally, construction of the structures must be done under controlled conditions. This is because materials in space can be affected by known and unknown radiation and environmental factors.
A habitable environment for the space colony
The second consideration is the need to provide a habitable environment for the inhabitants of the space colony. The structures must have life support systems that provide air, water, and food to the inhabitants of the colony. Life support systems must be designed to function in a zero-gravity environment and in extreme temperature and pressure conditions. Additionally, we’ll need an architecture in space that provides structures with a comfortable and safe environment for the colony’s inhabitants.