Space Habitat Design
Drawing on his 35 year career in NASA and commercial human space flight programs, space architect and industrial designer Frank Eichstadt discusses the past and future development of space habitats in the context of the evolution of activities in extreme environments, the influences of limited resource and emerging technologies, and the ongoing growth of commercial space flight.
Space habitats represent a technology-enabled expansion of our environment beyond terrestrial frontiers. As is often the case, habitats designed for extreme environments are mission-driven. As the scope of space missions expands beyond traditional science and exploration motivations, and as a more diverse population experience space flight, the requirements that space drive habitat design will also change and expand.
How will society and individuals cope with the challenges and opportunities presented by this new frontier? How does space habitat design reflect the history and evolution of the human experience? How does life change when people live and work in weightless environments offering six degrees of freedom. How will activities in space relate to and depend on terrestrial activities? What factors will dictate the pace of human migration into the frontier of space?
The answers to these and other questions will depend on evolving conditions under which the expansion into space occurs. Space habitats designed in the next decade will differ from those designed 50 or 150 years from now, even if the missions remain the same.
The space habitat topic provides a window into the indeterminate future of human space flight.