Space Architects werden uns helfen, unter den Sternen zu leben und zu arbeiten

2021-10-12
Dieses 2020 von XTENDdesign erstellte Konzept eines Monddorfes befindet sich am Rand des Shackleton-Kraters am Mondsüdpol. Die Moon Village Association (MVA) ist eine Nichtregierungsorganisation (NGO), deren Ziel es ist, ein dauerhaftes globales Forum für Interessengruppen zu schaffen, die an der Entwicklung des Moon Village interessiert sind. NASA

Wenn Sie die Denkweise von Elon Musk haben und denken, dass Menschen, um zu überleben, eine multiplanetare Spezies werden müssen , brauchen wir einen Ort zum Leben und Arbeiten. Dort draußen. Im Weltraum. Auf anderen Planeten.

Wir werden jemanden brauchen – viele Leute, wirklich –, der uns Häuser und Wohnhäuser und Büros baut und Walmarts und Transportmittel , die uns zwischen all diesen Orten transportieren. Verdammt, wir werden viele Orte bauen müssen, um alles zu tun, was wir hier auf unserem schnell verfallenden Heimatplaneten tun.

Wir brauchen Architekten. Viele von ihnen. Für unsere Vorstöße ins All brauchen wir natürlich einen anderen Architektentyp. Wir brauchen ... Weltraumarchitekten.

Zum Glück ist das schon eine Sache.

Die Idee hinter der Weltraumarchitektur

Olga Bannova trägt keine Visitenkarte mit der Aufschrift "Space Architect", obwohl sie zugibt, dass das ziemlich großartig wäre. Stattdessen ist Bannovas Titel (oder einer von ihnen) Direktor des Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) – es gibt es seit den späten 1980er Jahren – am Cullen College of Engineering der University of Houston. SICSA ist die Heimat des weltweit einzigen Graduiertenprogramms für Weltraumarchitektur. Ein Diplom bringt Ihnen einen Master of Science in Space Architecture.

Es ist noch kein riesiges Programm, das jedes Jahr nur wenige Absolventen hervorbringt. Es ist, wie vieles von der ganzen Idee der multiplanetaren Expansion, ein aufstrebendes Feld.

But for those who believe that our very existence relies on someday moving to a different galactic neighborhood , space architecture has us covered. It is, in a very real way, simply the latest exploratory mission away from Mother Earth.

"You can't stay in your house forever and think that somehow everything else will be the same ... everything is changing, including our Earth, including us, including the solar system, including the galaxy. It's all changing and moving," Bannova says. "That's why it's important. It's mostly about understanding more about ourselves."

Team SEArch+/Apis Cor won first place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge for deep space exploration.

What Is Space Architecture, Really?

Space architecture, really, is just what it sounds like. Bannova heads an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) committee, the Space Architecture Technical Committee (SATC) that concentrates specifically on the field. The SATC, on the site spacearchitect.org — if it has an internet site, you know it's a thing — describes it like this:

Space Architecture is the theory and practice of designing and building inhabited environments in outer space (it encompasses architectural design of living and working environments in space related facilities, habitats, and vehicles). These environments include, but are not limited to: space vehicles, stations, habitats and lunar, planetary bases and infrastructures; and earth based control, experiment, launch, logistics, payload, simulation and test facilities.

Space architects, then, are charged with designing buildings and houses and offices and a whole bunch of other stuff that humans need to survive — those interstellar Walmarts, perhaps — both here and in space plus devising ways to get between them. All this, not for nothing, while dealing with problems that Earthbound architects don't even dream about. Don't need to dream about . Maybe can't dream about.

Say, for example, a lack of oxygen or atmosphere. Weather patterns that make our current climate-change problems look like a calm day at a sunny beach. A lack of sunlight. Too much sunlight. Microgravity .

A lack of material to build what you need. Or no way to ship material that you need to where you need it. Or no way to get it there in a timely way, considering the vast distances between points in space.

It's not hard to imagine the problems that space architects will face, now and in the future. It's not hard to imagine, either that we can't even begin to imagine some of the challenges they'll be up against.

Carving out a space in space for our species to continue is a huge undertaking, perhaps the most audacious ever for mankind. It must be what the possibility of flying to the moon — of human flight at all — must have felt like to Galileo .

But, yeah, we knocked those out, didn't we?

Team AI. SpaceFactory of New York also participated in NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, and won second place for its space factory habitat on Mars.

The Challenges Ahead

Identifying the multitude of challenges in our move into space, thinking them through, and realizing that so many have yet to be recognized is a sizable part of what space architects now, and space architects in the future, must do. The field cries out for critical thinkers who have an understanding (if not necessarily a doctorate-level degree) in a multitude of specialties; not only architecture and its different branches, but the different areas in engineering (industrial, aerospace, systems and aeronautical, to name a few), physics, geometry, mathematics, logistics, computer science, human biology and many more.

In meta terms, architecture embraces both art and science. It addresses how we build, how we live, in the space we inhabit. You don't build a library without figuring out how we move about it, where the books go, where the light comes in.

If our living space is to become outer space — a habitable space that humans have been learning about, up close, for at least 20 years — well, we better start cracking the books.

What's a habitat on Mars to look like? How do winds there affect what you build? What about gravity? How do you construct a farm, if one can be built, with the radiation of another planetary body beaming down? How do we build living quarters on a ship that may take decades to get where it's going? How can we make sure that a flying habitat flies?

What can we learn by building these habitats on some of the less-hospitable areas of Earth? How can what we learn help us while we're still here?

You want to be a space architect? Get yourself a planet-sized toolbox.

"Space architecture is not for the technically timid. To play this game, one needs to educate oneself about the harsh realities of life beyond Earth, and the science and technology for fashioning habitable bubbles in deadly environments," Theodore Hall, a former chairperson of the SATC and an extended reality software developer at the University of Michigan, said back in 2014. "Only then is one prepared to stand toe-to-toe with the engineers and strive for architectural aesthetics that treat the human as more than a deterministic biochemical subsystem of a soulless machine."

Those still interested in space architecture — and, again, we're going to need a lot of forward-thinkers to sign up — shouldn't be intimidated, though. Plenty of problems are there to be faced, certainly, and it will take all kinds to determine how our species can best live away from home.

But we have cellphones now that are more powerful than the computers that sent men to the moon. We've been on the International Space Station for 20 years and counting. We're exploring Mars and other deep-space outposts at this very moment.

Problems in finding a new home among the stars? Space architects are on the job.

"It's impossible to predict everything, in space especially. It's hard to design some close-to-perfect habitat even on Earth," says Bannova, who carries an undergraduate degree from the Moscow Architectural Institute, dual masters degrees (in architecture and space architecture, both from UH) and a doctorate from Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology. "We have more questions than answers. It's the nature of the profession. But it gives you an opportunity to see and decide for yourself where your passion is."

This rendering shows another view of Team SEArch+/Apis Cor's Mars habitat. The unique shape allows for continuous reinforcement of the structure, and allows light to enter through trough-shaped ports on the sides and top.

NOW THAT'S INTERESTING

Architects and industrial engineers, according to the AIAA, have been part of the aerospace industry since the 1960s. One of the first examples of their work: An industrial designer convinced NASA to include a window in the Skylab space station in 1973.

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