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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Toroidal colonies

Inside a Toroidal colony

Stanford torus

Island One

Bernal sphere exterior

Bernal sphere interior

Bernal sphere agricultural moduls

The interior of a Bernal Sphere

Multiple two-cylinder colonies

Exterior view of double-cylinder colony

Interior view of cylindrical space colony

Inside a cylindrical space colony

Cylindrical colonies

In the summer of 1975, when space exploration was still ever so young, NASA Ames Research Center and Stanford University put on their thinking caps regarding potential space settlements. That brainstorming summit produced the 1975 NASA Summer Study, which envisioned what life in space might look like. The focus was on orbiting spaceships, and the result was a document called "Space settlements: A design study."

In the forward, then-NASA Administrator James Fletcher called the study a big-picture question for humankind: "To assess the human and economic implications as well as technical feasibility, the participants in this effort have provided us with a vision that will engage our imagination and stretch our minds."

Here, for example, is a cutaway view of ring-shaped "toroidal colonies," exposing the interior. Click on for more illustrations from the study.
Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
A view from inside a toroidal colony showing housing, bodies of water, and lush green grass.
Caption by / Photo by Don Davis/NASA
The Stanford torus, seen here, was a proposed design for a giant ring-shaped space habitat capable of housing 10,000 to 140,000 permanent residents.
Caption by / Photo by Don Davis/NASA
Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill proposed this modified Bernal sphere, which he called "Island One." It would have a diameter of only 500 meters spinning at 1.9 rpm to produce full Earth artificial gravity at the sphere's equator.

Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
An exterior view of the "Island One," a modified Bernal sphere.
Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
The interior of O'Neill's Bernal sphere would resemble a lush valley running all the way around the equator of the sphere, capable of providing living and recreation space for a population of about 10,000 people, with a "crystal palace" habitat used for agriculture. The form of a sphere was chosen for its optimum ability to contain air pressure and its optimum mass-efficiency at providing radiation shielding.
Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
A view of the agricultural modules of a O'Neill's Island One, a modified Bernal sphere.
Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
The interior of a Bernal Sphere space colony, capable of sustaining about 10,000 people.
Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
An artist's rendition of multiple two-cylinder colonies aimed toward the sun.
Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
An exterior view of a double-cylinder colony, a living space city concept capable of housing 1 million people.
Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
An interior view of a cylindrical space colony looking out through large windows.
Caption by / Photo by Rick Guidice/NASA
A view of the inside of a cylindrical space colony with vegetation and interior atmosphere.
Caption by / Photo by Don Davis/NASA
A view of an end-cap of one of the cylindrical space colonies, showing a suspension bridge over a large body of water and a family picnicking on a green hillside.
Caption by / Photo by Don Davis/NASA
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