23 July 2020
Thousands of people could be living in floating space colonies orbiting the Earth in 20 years’ time, according to a British Interplanetary Society (BIS) expert.
Jerry Stone told the Independent that life in space could actually be healthier than Earth, enabling people to live longer and, eventually, grow taller. The Independent reports:
Mr Stone, author of the book One Small Step about the moon landings, and other members of the BIS have been updating research carried out in the US in the 1970s into how humans could start living in space in large numbers.
The colonies would consist of a vast hollow cylinder, which would rotate to provide gravity for the people who would live on the inside.
Mr Stone said much would depend on private companies developing spacecraft that provided cheap and reliable access to space.
But asked when he thought the first major colony might be created, he said: “If we were to say start in 10 years’ time, we could potentially have this up and finished in 20 years from now, which is pretty amazing, isn’t it?”
The research in the 1970s was led by Princeton University physicist Gerard O’Neill who asked his students to come up with designs for space colonies. They decided it would be better for them to float in space, rather than be attached to the Moon. “They could have done all this with 1970s technology. If we were to do this now we could probably do it far more efficiently than back in the 1970s – that’s why I started this project.”
A space settlement would be a large structure, comparable in size to a town or small city, built in Earth’s orbit. It would have similar amenities and services to towns and cities on Earth, and would enable people to live in space. The International Space Station currently houses six astronauts at a time, but a space settlement would have hundreds or thousands of people on board.
“There are other designs for a ring-shaped colony and the cylinders could be four miles in diameter and 20 miles long,” Mr Stone said. “They could hold up to 10 million people.”
The BIS team has been in contact with Rothamsted agricultural research centre about space crops that could feed people in the colonies.
Thousands could live in space colonies orbiting the Earth in just 20 years, expert claims https://t.co/tGGFBU4luE
— Church and State (@ChurchAndStateN) July 23, 2020
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