Craft & Design
Space colony artwork from the 1970’s

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NASA has a gallery of art online of what the future was going be like, back from the 1970’s, what a wonderful vision – “A couple of space colony summer studies were conducted at NASA Ames in the 1970s. Colonies housing about 10,000 people were designed. A number of artistic renderings of the concepts were made. These have been converted to jpegs and are available as thumbnails, quarter page, full screen and publication quality images.” [via] – Link.

18 thoughts on “Space colony artwork from the 1970’s

  1. WOAH! i have the exact book those are from! i’ll try to find and scan it later today for y’all

  2. Nice! I have them as 35mm slides! I think I bought them from Edmund Scientific, way back when.

  3. I literally looked at those pictures everyday for 10 years.

    My father was the co-director of that project. When I was growing up, we had those very same pictures framed in our house. I have countless memories of me staring at them in endless fascination.

    I actually don’t know where they are now. I think some might have been damaged in the earthquake of 1989, although I doubt my dad had the originals. I just called my dad to ask but he was out.

    The book they are from is available on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1410218228/qid=1147465681/sr=1-6/ref=sr_1_6/102-4567200-4770569?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

  4. The two pictures were painted by Ric Guidace of Los Gatos, CA. The original photographic prints of the paintings were about 3 ft by 4 ft. The print of the two large cylinders was done ca 1974 to illustrate O’Neil’s concept for a colony at L5 which was published in Physics Today. The colony population was in the millions. The cylinders were huge. Most people thought that spinning the huge solar cell panels would require impossibly strong cables. Hence the need for a smaller more realistic version.
    The second picture of the interior of the torus was done during the 1975 summer study. The work was done in ten weeks by 21 professors (including O’Neill) and about 10 students mostly from MIT. The study goal was to provide a safe and economically feasible habitat for 10,000 people. The project was co-directed by Stanford (Bill Verplank) and by NASA Ames (Richard Johnson) under funding provided by the Amer. Soc. for Engineering Education. Just after the study, Issac Asimov wrote a special piece on the project which appeared in the bicentenial issue of the National Geographic (p. 76, Jult 1976). Two major design issues involved maintaining health/safety. The group chose an artificial gravity of 1 g by spinning the torus to satisfy the need for gravity (severe medical issues arise when humans are exposed to prolonged periods of zero G). To reduce dizziness and other sensory problems, the torus was designed to spin at 1 rpm with a resulting large diameter. To reduce radiation to an acceptable level, a separate massive non-spinning outer shell of moon rock shielded the interior. The group could not think of other viable concepts to meet the health requirements. Aesthetics, psycological well-being, governance, recycling of waste, food sources, etc. were all treated in the study. A 185 page report, edited by Richard Johnson (NASA Ames) and Charles Holbrow (Colgate University) was published by NASA (SP413)in 1977. Over 10,000 copies were distributed to interested parties around the world. It seemed that many of those interested saw it as a chance to reinvent the world as they would like it to be, based in large part on the idealism portrayed in the initial art work and in fantasy art done by many others subsequently.
    These photographs have appeared everywhere from the Mickey Mouse Club to the front pages of leading newspapers around the world.
    Subsequent studies have looked at different approaches but never gather the tremendous appeal of the 1975 study.
    Richard D. Johnson

  5. Sadly, the “print-quality” versions are still not very high resolution. Any of you with slides or the original book able to make better versions? I totally remember obsessing over this book as a child. I’d love to print these at, say, wall size.

    My favorites are the top one shown above, and the one with the human-powered glider-plane above and a 1970s outdoor cocktail party below.

  6. Mattdmn – post a real address or e-mail address and I will send you high res. scans of the original slides.

  7. Errr, that was broken. But it’s fixed now. Anyway, it’s my username @ same name dot org. Since these are in the public domain, I may make a Fedora Extras packages of these as made nice for being Gnome backgrounds….

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