Space Colony Art from the 1970s


329 points | by tintinnabula 71 days ago


  • exochrono 71 days ago

    Oh man - I feel a lot of history with these images - they actually inspired one of the first online businesses I tried to make.

    I wanted to put one of these images on my wall, but they were niche enough that I couldn't find anybody selling them. I printed one myself using Zazzle, but then I started thinking that it would be cool to create a place where anybody could share cool niche images they found and have them automatically be available as a poster. I built my site - - over a couple of months at the beginning of last year.

    Per probably the second-most common fate of hacker projects (after not getting finished at all), I lost interest before doing much marketing or figuring out any sort of product/market fit, but it definitely an empowering experience to at least see a project through to going live on the internet and learn for myself that "build it and they will come" is for the most part a wishful fantasy :D

    • dwaltrip 71 days ago

      Cool site! Just ordered an awesome poster of the star-birthing region in the Orion Nebula (

      Thanks for building and sharing your project.

      • cellu_cc 71 days ago

        From the description on that poster

        "The artist’s share of profits from sales of this poster will be donated to NASA."

        How, Though? You can't donate to NASA

        • exochrono 71 days ago

          I think as long as it's unsolicited you can send them money -

          • HillRat 71 days ago

            Technically, you can give money to a federal agency, but (with few exceptions) they in turn have to forward the money to the Treasury for the general fund.

            • AnIdiotOnTheNet 71 days ago

              You can order pizzas for employees?

              • jdavis703 71 days ago

                Potentially... I vaguely remember my anti-corruption training, and the dollar limits for receiving gifts and meals were fairly low.

                • dsfyu404ed 70 days ago

                  So work with the pizza place to get a special 95% discount then hand them cash "not related to the order". For something that's obviously a good faith contribution everyone involved will err toward the side of rubber stamping it as ok.

                  The rules are just a rule of thumb that we can apply evenly at scale to avoid corruption. When there's legitimately no corruption happening the rules get more flexible. If it ever becomes an issue HR will frown (because rules) but legal will apply the duck test and conclude that ~$10 pizza/person paid for by someone who doesn't need/want/isn't in a position to benefit from preferential treatment is not corruption.

              • zerr 71 days ago

                Isn't NASA quite well funded already? Sky is the limit (or not..) of course, but I'd rather prefer a donation to those with immediate needs.

                • rootbear 70 days ago

                  NASA contractor here. Our funding has been slowly declining in recent years, with some years better than others. It's currently about 20 billion USD, or about 0.5% of the US budget. We are not what I would call "quite well funded", but we manage. A project I support, WFIRST, is currently over budget (as most space telescopes have been) and is constantly under threat of being cancelled. The recent shutdown cost the Government far more that what is needed to finish WFIRST.

                  Details of the NASA budget can be found at the inevitable Wikipedia page:


              • exochrono 71 days ago

                Oh damn, thank you! :D

              • JacobDotVI 70 days ago

                This is awesome! I did a similar thing a couple of years ago for framed prints of space:


                • solarkraft 70 days ago

                  Nice site! I absolutely love the Visions of the Future posters (took a while to process 3gb of tiff to png) and would love to order one printed, but don't see where I can choose the country to ship to ... Is shipping geographically limited for now?

                  • klohto 70 days ago

                    Want to expand to European market? :)

                    • exochrono 70 days ago

                      Haha, I just need to add a country selector to the order form. I can do that in the next couple of days :)

                    • manigandham 71 days ago

                      How do they look when printed? Are you sourcing the original images?

                  • sktrdie 71 days ago

                    We are so driven by settling other planets, which of course I think we should do, that we forget that space habitats might be a more economical and also healthier first step into space.

                    Apart from the ones depicted in these images I'm more in favour with starting with cheaper techniques where we could wire up an initial station to a wire/tether, and put a weight (or another small station) at the other end, have them spin around to reproduce gravity.

                    Then we can move these pieces closer to asteroid belts to get resources.

                    A planet on the other hand is a gravity-well: it will always cost us energy and money to get out of such wells. My point is that we should start in pieces, and not necessarily put all our efforts to reach a planet. There can be many other steps in between.

                    • taf2 71 days ago

                      I think that is why Nasa's Havoc mission is maybe the best idea yet...

                      You still have to maintain the floating city like you would an orbital one, but you get the extra added benefits...

                      Venus makes the most sense to me... You get the benefit of gravity similar to earth, 70~ deg f temp and gases that allow you to maintain pressure and possibly harvest for fuel...

                      • lxmorj 71 days ago

                        I've been trying to figure out how effective solar power would be at the height you'd put a floating city. You're closer to the sun than Earth, much higher than Earth's surface, but in a very dense atmosphere...

                        • swish_bob 71 days ago

                          It's Venus, you could do the equivalent of geothermal energy generation just by dangling the pipes beneath you, no drilling required ...

                          • ido 71 days ago

                            If atmospheric pressure at that height is similar to earth's at sea-level, wouldn't we expect similar levels of light blocking by the atmosphere as well?

                            • emiliobumachar 71 days ago

                              Possibly. But if there are permanent clouds above, the whole idea falls flat.

                            • ido 71 days ago

                              What is the cost/difficulty difference in getting to Venus in the first place & then getting people/supplies back-and-forth compared to LEO?

                          • skriticos2 71 days ago

                            My thoughts exactly. Especially since it's much easier to simulate 1 gravity in space with rotating space stations. (You live long enough on Mars/Moon/etc., you are not coming back without being crushed).

                            The stations would need to be rather large, but that's just an engineering and motivation problem. But with a little extra shielding (lot's of water in the hull - could be obtained from asteroids) they'd be very useful as living space (especially after climate change ravages our home planet).

                            They'd also be much better staging places for solar system exploration and have an advantage in trade (refueling, low energy requirement to get anywhere, excellent target for asteroid refinement without having to bring stuff into a gravity well and back up).

                            Not having to fight the atmosphere for solar energy is also a plus.

                            But humanity still clings to traditional gravity wells like the images in the OP show. Old Italian land-house style dwellings in an orbital ring station..

                          • tomp 71 days ago

                            I agree, except for the availability of resources, a space station makes much more sense than a planetary colony. In addition, all stations depicted are highly sci-fi - a realistic station would have to be modular, to prevent catastrophic failure if anything goes wrong (i.e. at most one module is lost, all the air in the whole station).

                            The up-front costs are way bigger, because you have to manufacture a reinforced floor (which, in case of a planetary colony, is the planet itself) and spin up the station (to provide "gravity"). But operational costs should be much lower, because there is 0 delta-v to get to and from the station (except syncing orbits, which you need to do with a planet as well). Start with two modules tethered in spin, then add additional ones gradually.

                            If we transport the materials from Earth, the cost of initial material is similar to settling on a planet. Once we develop technology for off-world manufacturing, you can literally fly your manufacturing plant to an asteroid, build the station there (with plenty of resources available) and then reposition it however you want.

                            The only kinds of planets that it makes sense to settle, is ones with a magnetosphere - and even that only until we develop other ways of shielding (there are companies working on that - e.g. Talos )

                            • kakarot 71 days ago

                              From what I understand, a structure needs to be quite massive to get meaningful gravity from a rotating hull unless you attempt to approach ludicrously unsafe angular velocity which would make repair / docking a big challenge. In The Expanse, Ceres station was spun up over many, many years and still only achieved about 1/3G. Not to use a fictional universe as a basis for science but afaik they at least tried to do the math correctly.

                              • tomp 71 days ago

                                I think it doesn't need to be massive, it just needs to have massive radius. Could be as simple as having a really long and strong wire between two habitation modules. And you can start small (low distance, slow spin, little gravity) and increase gradually.

                                Expanse is neat, but spinning asteroids isn't realistic. The idea is that the acceleration at the surface of Ceres is 1/3g, pointing outwards (i.e. you fall "out" into space). That would imply that the ground/rocks etc literally floats away in space. Unless the surface is structurally strong enough to resist that (unlikely with most asteroids, many of which are literally rubble piles ) the whole things would just disintegrate.

                                • kakarot 70 days ago

                                  Very interesting point about the wire. Seems like a great idea and definitely worth exploring, but imagine if that wire got cut ;)

                                  > but spinning asteroids isn't realistic

                                  Ceres isn't an asteroid. It's a dwarf planet. It's not a pile of rubble. It's big enough to be round from its own gravity. The only object in the asteroid belt with that status, actually.

                                  > That would imply that the ground/rocks etc literally floats away in space

                                  Yea, but they considered that and planned accordingly. The entire station is underground and the surface is heavily reinforced.

                                  • 70 days ago
                                  • dsfyu404ed 70 days ago

                                    >Could be as simple as having a really long and strong wire between two habitation modules

                                    I.e. "the crane cable you would use to lift the module under normal, 1g, earthly circumstances"

                                  • AllegedAlec 71 days ago

                                    > From what I understand, a structure needs to be quite massive to get meaningful gravity from a rotating hull unless you attempt to approach ludicrously unsafe angular velocity which would make repair / docking a big challenge

                                    The reason it has to be so massive is that otherwise the difference in the G-forces between your head and your feet can make you sick[1].


                                    • alex_duf 71 days ago

                                      They talk about it in the book, it actually makes some of the characters sick

                                      • AllegedAlec 70 days ago

                                        Yeah, I know. I just wanted to elucidate for others who may not have read the book what some important reasons are for making rotating ring structures quire large.

                                    • alex_duf 71 days ago

                                      There's also Medina station which has the massive drum they end up spinning. They then grow crops in it.

                                      I love the expanse, such an amazing series of books

                                      • kakarot 70 days ago

                                        Easily my favorite contemporary sci-fi series... but please feel free to change my mind on that.

                                    • timbit42 71 days ago

                                      A station with a counterweight can be grown into a wheel station. A wheel can be widened until it becomes a tube station.

                                      • justanegg 70 days ago

                                        you could also build it in space over the course of year and land it on a place with lower gravity than earth easily.

                                      • kirion25 71 days ago

                                        For more, you can check the artists websites.

                                        Don Davis:

                                        Rick Guidice:

                                        Roy Scarfo:

                                      • marktangotango 71 days ago

                                        Some of these arise from of Gerard O’Neill work on space colonies. I saw these in National Geographic in the late 70s they were hugely inspirational to me.

                                        Note while Musk advocates settling Mars Bezos has indicated a preference for space colonies such as O’Neills.


                                        • DennisP 71 days ago
                                          • yreg 71 days ago

                                            If this interests you, check this channel out, the man argues the case for space megastructures very well.


                                            • musha68k 71 days ago

                                              Dreams of Elysian Fields.

                                              None of these Arks are going to support billions.

                                              • astrostl 70 days ago

                                                Found comment via CMD-F for "ely" - because these pics look a LOT like what is depicted in the film "Elysium". I do not recommend it, FWIW :P

                                                • tomp 71 days ago

                                                  Unless we terraform a planet, we'll need domes (artificial habitats with roofs filled with air) anyways. The difference between a planetary and space settlement is then just the (reinforced) floor, and you gain having 0 delta-v launch costs.

                                                  • lmm 71 days ago

                                                    > The difference between a planetary and space settlement is then just the (reinforced) floor, and you gain having 0 delta-v launch costs.

                                                    Anywhere intended for long-term habitation needs to be surrounded by 5m of metal or 10m of dirt (or a proper magnetosphere), and even a small amount of gravity can make life a lot more convenient in terms of having an up and down direction, not having to sleep next to a fan etc.

                                                    To my mind somewhere like Phobos makes the most sense for the first space colonies - enough dirt available to build things, not enough delta-v cost to matter.

                                                  • adrianN 71 days ago

                                                    If you keep building more they'll eventually house billions.

                                                    • musha68k 70 days ago

                                                      I remember the painfully slow loading times as well as the excitement over these classic illustration scans back in the 90s.

                                                      IMHO though we live in a "post scifi" age now (2019!) and should rather discard most of the mainstream utopian/dystopian fantasies already. At least until we manage to envision some pragmatic solutions to the very real and pressing problems we have on this planet right now.

                                                      We need to work together if we want to even have a slight chance to survive the next couple of decades collectively. We need some genuinely new utopian thinking if we want us all to survive.

                                                      Most of these billionaire "backup" plans as well as middle class "prepper" movements are dangerous distractions (and unlikely to "work out" for the cohorts pushing for them anyways).

                                                      If we like it or not we are in this together.

                                                      • makerofspoons 70 days ago

                                                        You are absolutely correct. We have absolutely no way to produce these fantasies without even further widespread environmental devastation. Think of all the metals that would need to be mined and carbon emitted to get this stuff in orbit. Even if we mine asteroids a colossal amount of resources will need to be spent on spacecraft and machinery to make that possible on a world already facing ecological collapse:

                                                        Insects may disappear by 2100:

                                                        Phytoplankton has nearly halved in the oceans since 1950:

                                                        Wildlife is becoming paralyzed and diving because of vitamin deficiencies:

                                                        We have already knocked out the base of the food chains we depend on- we cannot consume our way out of this hole. The future of this species is already in question, we can't afford these fantasies.

                                                • _iyig 71 days ago

                                                  O’Neill cylinders were the template for space colonies in the Mobile Suit Gundam anime, going all the way back to the series premiere in 1979. One of many details which lent the show an air of gritty realism, despite its colorful giant robot fights.

                                                  • SolarNet 71 days ago

                                                    Gundam continues to mix these gritty realistic space ideas with cool fighting robots. I wish more sci-fi shows would do this.

                                                    • skriticos2 71 days ago

                                                      That's why they reminded me of the series immediately. :) One of my favorites.

                                                      • agent008t 71 days ago

                                                        They were also depicted quite faithfully and in great detail in Hideo Kojima's Policenauts.

                                                      • douglaswlance 70 days ago

                                                        I don't think it makes much sense for us to build earth-like environments in space. It totally negates the benefits of being in a zero-g environment.

                                                        I think it is more likely that our biology will be forced to adapt to space than the other way around. I can imagine a future where humans live in individual pods while hooked up to virtual reality systems that can simulate all the necessary needs of the person within the pod, while the pod traverses shared space near lagrange points to collect necessary resources. It'd be a sort of "cell" in a larger multi-cellular collective surrounding our local star; much like endosymbiosis lead to mitochondria when eukaryotes first evolved, humans will merge with machines to become space-faring cellular life.

                                                        • ncmncm 71 days ago

                                                          Alexis Gilliland wrote some really excellent fiction around the counter-rotating cylinders design. "The Revolution from Rosinante", "Long Shot for Rosinante", and "The Pirates of Rosinante", published by Del Rey in '81 and '82. They are still as fresh today as when he wrote them. He got the Campbell award in '82, and the Hugo in 1980, 1983, 1984 and 1985 for fan art.

                                                          His Mitusbishi Dragon-Scale Mirror design cannot be ignored.


                                                          • planktonite 71 days ago

                                                            There’s an under appreciated problem with spinning space stations: they would be set off balance by uneven distribution of weight around the ring. This would make small scale rings a bit problematic because people and stuff need to move around. Rings the size of halo would have enough mass that the movement of people wouldn’t be enough to matter.

                                                            • jakeinspace 71 days ago

                                                              Could possibly use some sort of active control system of counter masses, like water in a lattice of piping.

                                                              • manigandham 71 days ago

                                                                In the book/TV series "The Expanse", they actually spin up massive asteroids and live inside tunnels, effectively like a ring but made of rock, to offset the fact that it doesn't have enough gravity otherwise. Neat concept, although will likely end in failure.

                                                                • crdoconnor 71 days ago

                                                                  In reality those asteroids would tear themselves to pieces when spun up.

                                                                  • buboard 71 days ago

                                                                    It also acts as a radiation shield

                                                                  • Pharmakon 71 days ago

                                                                    An issue with larger rings is that the downforce felt around the ring would vary based on your position within a segment. While it would be a more subtle gradient than a smaller ring, and so less nauseating, it would mean that living and working space would vary in terms of perceived gravity. Another problem is transportation, with the fastest way to cross the ring being across a “spoke” with a gravitational gradient that goes to zero and back. To be fair that could also be a benefit, if people can get used to it.

                                                                    • yreg 71 days ago

                                                                      You don't want rings, you want O'Neill cylinders.


                                                                      • Pharmakon 71 days ago

                                                                        I really, really do. I’d also like a side of Dyson Swarms, hold the butter. Seriously, how amazing would an O’Neill cylinder be? People live inside, and outside you’d have industries using the vacuum to do things that would cost a fortune on Earth.

                                                                        Just a teensy little upfront investment is required, but with SpaceX it might not be so crazy someday soon. If the cost per kilo into orbit drops enough, a lot of sci-fi could become real; not the Dyson swarm, but orbital habitats and industries sure could.

                                                                        • ACow_Adonis 71 days ago

                                                                          Arthur C Clarke and 'Rendezvous with Rama' seems suspiciously absent from discussion about "O'Niell" cylinders :P

                                                                        • jkroso 70 days ago

                                                                          And if you got in a car and drove against the direction of spin you would become lighter. While if you went with the direction of spin you would become heavier.

                                                                        • jayd16 71 days ago

                                                                          Does it really matter if the axis of spin is in the exact center for a space station? The station would wobble, but would you feel it?

                                                                          • all2 71 days ago


                                                                            There's also a few problems with Halo sized rings.

                                                                          • matt-attack 71 days ago

                                                                            I’m almost positive one of those was from National Geographic’s Our Universe. When I was a kid I must have read it a hundred times. The drawings were truly awe inspiring. In fact just googling it and seeing the cover art brought back so many memories.

                                                                            A book could never mean as much again in this age.

                                                                            • ajlburke 70 days ago

                                                                              One of the reasons I loved the Mass Effect games was that their design team had clearly been looking at these same pictures, especially when they built the Presidium.

                                                                              As a kid, I would look at those pictures and imagine my life in the future looking like this. Instead, in the real future, I play video games where I can wander around these kinds of spaces virtually.

                                                                              • JunkDNA 71 days ago

                                                                                Yes! I loved that book. Many of these pictures are in there for sure. I actually recently got a copy of the book used and in excellent condition. My mother donated most of my books as I outgrew them over the years. My 8 year old daughter recently got interested in space so we read it cover to cover. While dated (and blatantly incorrect in places) it still managed to spark that same awe and wonder in her that it did in me. I’m so glad to have found this copy. Such a great book.

                                                                              • manigandham 71 days ago

                                                                                Love this art, especially the retro sci-fi look in general. Some similarities to share:

                                                                                NASA's own "visions of the future" poster series:

                                                                                Futuristic concept artists like Syd Mead:

                                                                                "Never Built" series based on city building proposals, starting with Los Angeles:

                                                                                • benj111 71 days ago

                                                                                  How 'serious' were these pictures?

                                                                                  Was this something they were seriously expecting in the coming years?

                                                                                  I'm mindful of the fact that man had basically gone from just achieving orbit, to landing on the moon in a decade, so anything could have seemed possible at that stage.

                                                                                  • vorg 71 days ago

                                                                                    > Was this something they were seriously expecting in the coming years?

                                                                                    I started high school a few months after the last time anyone walked on the moon. If you'd told me then that no-one would ever again walk on the moon in the following fifty years, I'd have told you you were nuts. The general mood in the 1970's was that humankind would start to inhabit space over the following decades, and space colonies like these would be orbiting the Earth. Instead, the only humans publicly known to be in space right now are the 3 aboard the International Space Station.

                                                                                    • philwelch 71 days ago

                                                                                      Until Kennedy radically accelerated the schedule for the first moon landing and set that as a singular goal, the plans for the space program involved almost as much infrastructure building as exploration. Here's a 1955 television program where Wernher von Braun presents an earlier, more complicated plan for a Moon mission, complete with a nuclear-powered toroidal space station:

                                                                                      • reidacdc 71 days ago

                                                                                        That's a great find. A noteworthy (to me) feature was the height of the orbit -- they're at ~1000 miles above the Earth's surface. This indicates that they were unaware of the Van Allen belts, which makes sense, in 1955, no artificial satellites had yet been launched.

                                                                                        Edit: Also noticed the dramatized mission has a "free-return" trajectory, no maneuver required at the moon to get back to Earth.

                                                                                        • philwelch 71 days ago

                                                                                          They also had a lot of enthusiasm for nuclear energy. Apollo itself used fuel cells and the later space stations all used solar power.

                                                                                      • NeedMoreTea 71 days ago

                                                                                        I suspect no less serious than the various other projects that had concept artwork. Seemed like the 70s and 80s TV news regularly had plans, including an aspirational artist's impression, for a NASA moonbase, orbital ring space station, or Mars mission etc. Couldn't say how serious or not, but serious enough to have made it to UK media back then, fairly regularly. The obvious question after 1972's Apollo 17, was "what's next?".

                                                                                        We got Skylab, the Space Shuttle, lots of fascinating probes to other planets, and satellites themselves of course, but those were rather less "grand" in scope. No doubt budget driven.

                                                                                        To be fair though, if NASA can't dream big, who can? :)

                                                                                        • vivekd 71 days ago

                                                                                          I think they were serious, and very much a product of the malthusian ideas that dominated that era. I remember reading futurist books with these images in the 6th grade in the early 90s.

                                                                                          Back in the 80s and 90s Malthusianism was the dominant thing. Most people believed the global population would keep expanding beyond what the world could sustain giving the impetus for things like space stations and ocean colonies. And population graphs in the 70s and 80s and even the 90s suggested that this was true.

                                                                                          Also in the 70s the idea of the green revolution wasn't fully cemented in the public consciousness. Nobody had any idea that it would double wheat yields between 1970 and today so people were projecting slow linear growth, or worse static farm yields and available resources against a growing population. The projection for the future was a dark one back then, and things like these space stations, along with things like ocean colonies were seen as a desperate way to prevent that fate.

                                                                                          • vkou 71 days ago

                                                                                            Alas, the graphs from the 2010s continue to suggest that Malthusianism is true. Except that instead of running out of natural resources, we're running out of GHG budget.

                                                                                            Fortunately, nobody seriously believes that wasting trillions of dollars on moving a few people off the Earth is a serious solution to this problem. Unfortunately, nobody is actually pursuing any serious solutions to this problem.

                                                                                          • rmah 71 days ago

                                                                                            Reasonably serious (for some definitions of "reasonably"). The illustrations were commissioned for a book published by NASA describing a design study on permanent space habitats at L5 creatively called "Space Settlements: A Design Study". I got this book as a kid in the late 70's and it was one of my favorites. I pored over each page oh so carefully for years. The study went into a fair amount of detail about what would be required to support 10,000 people in a stanford torus at L5. Everything from radiation shielding to sewage systems. From construction techniques to creating day-night cycles.

                                                                                            An online version HTML of the book is here:

                                                                                            and one with proper layout (and a link a PDF) is here:

                                                                                            • jotm 71 days ago

                                                                                              Well, riding on the tails of literally landing on the moon, the future must've looked bright and amazing. It probably would've been if the same amount of work and money continued to pour into the space programs. Space - the final frontier and all.

                                                                                              • rwallace 71 days ago

                                                                                                Yes. In the eighties, we seriously expected that such space habitats might be built in the next few decades. It was a reasonable extrapolation from the rapid progress that had occurred in recent decades.

                                                                                              • JKCalhoun 71 days ago

                                                                                                Loved the space colony with the hang glider.

                                                                                                That one caused me to consider a 2001-style rotating space station — would it be possible to ride your bike counter to the rotation of the wheel and cancel the centripetal force?

                                                                                                I reasoned that you could but that your direction of travel, tangential to the inner surface of the wheel, would still keep you "grounded".

                                                                                                A simple ramp though should allow you to launch yourself "hub ward".

                                                                                                Am I missing something?

                                                                                                • alex_duf 71 days ago

                                                                                                  No I think you nailed it. It all depends on the rotation speed but in principle it should be possible to do that.

                                                                                                  That can either be seen as a flaw or as a feature depending on which side you look at it.

                                                                                                  • marktangotango 70 days ago

                                                                                                    There are definitely some effects like this, would make for interesting video gameplay as well, if someone were inclined. Like trampoline bounce to opposite side or catapults?

                                                                                                  • JKCalhoun 71 days ago

                                                                                                    So optimistic. I loved the 70's. It was what drew me into the idea of a "brave new future" (no sarcasm intended).

                                                                                                    • empressplay 71 days ago

                                                                                                      Higher resolution images are available from

                                                                                                      • spiffistan 71 days ago

                                                                                                        I just came across this guy who seems to have drawn a lot through the years:

                                                                                                      • fallingfrog 70 days ago

                                                                                                        Hey I'm just thinking this through, but wouldn't you get atmospheric disturbances with a cylinder of not-gigantic size? Air currents that go antispinwise would experience lift due to coriolis effect, while air currents going spinwise would experience a downdraft. Would that not lead to the development of sideways tornadoes? Just a thought.. The ring or cylinder might have to have a really large circumference to avoid those kinds of things.

                                                                                                        • jboles 71 days ago

                                                                                                          This artwork reminds me of a book from my childhood, the ‘Usborne Book of the Future’. In addition to being richly illustrated, it predicted a lot of the technology we would have today, as well as described problems society might face in the future.

                                                                                                          It’s archived online here:

                                                                                                          • tigerlily 71 days ago

                                                                                                            Some of the illustrations remind me of a book at my school library titled "50 Facts About Space":


                                                                                                            These visions of gigantic space colonies were fantastic. I don't know if I could bear to live on one in RL, I'd be too worried about the micrometeorites.

                                                                                                            • kristianp 70 days ago

                                                                                                              Many of those images were also published in O'Neill's book, The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space:

                                                                                                              • pi-victor 71 days ago

                                                                                                                You mean retro Elisyum maybe :)

                                                                                                                Also, how did we get from this cool stuff to zombie apocalypse, dystopian society and barren wastelands in our sci-fi?

                                                                                                              • madengr 71 days ago

                                                                                                                I remember seeing some of these as a kid in the 70’s. Great stuff. Also a lot of art by Chris Foss:


                                                                                                                • vhodges 71 days ago

                                                                                                                  And for modern space art:

                                                                                                                  • fallingfrog 71 days ago

                                                                                                                    I actually think a ring or cylinder in space is a more practical idea than colonizing mars, because 1) you can get 1g earth gravity, 2) transportation to any other floating habitat or asteroid in the inner solar system is easy, 3) you have to build some kind of pressurized dome on mars anyway and 4) it’s easier to resupply from earth

                                                                                                                    • dredmorbius 71 days ago

                                                                                                                      The first eight images were published in T.A. Heppenheimer's Colonies in Space, now available online.


                                                                                                                      • Finnucane 71 days ago

                                                                                                                        I had that book. I was in 7th grade when it was published.

                                                                                                                      • CapitalistCartr 71 days ago

                                                                                                                        People raised in Space are going to wonder what we found so enticing about living dirtside, "Fun to visit, but why anyone lives like that is beyond me. We have perfect weather, a beautiful environment, and we're already halfway to anywhere we want to go."

                                                                                                                        • njharman 71 days ago

                                                                                                                          The deflective magnetic field, ablative asteroid armor (aka atmosphere), and poking hole in wall not leading to explosive decompression are but a few of the "pros" to dirtside living.

                                                                                                                          • dorian-graph 71 days ago

                                                                                                                            Slightly related: in Asimov's Robot books, the humans on earth who live in enclosed mega cities (referred to as wombs more than once), struggle to be outside (basically none do go), and wonder why anyone would want to be out there.

                                                                                                                            • hutzlibu 71 days ago

                                                                                                                              Well, a snowstorm can be beautiful, perfect weather - to feel alive.

                                                                                                                              A sunny beach is nice. But all day, every day?


                                                                                                                              I like to travel. I like to see new things, experience new situations - a small space station where I would have to live forever, I would consider a hell in prison.

                                                                                                                              Unless that space station travels around the planets ... where you can visit and explore them ..

                                                                                                                              • jedberg 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                Presumably the station would orbit earth, and so you'd just wait until you were over the place you wanted to visit and then head down to earth for a week, and the trip would be the same hassle no matter where you were going!

                                                                                                                                • marktangotango 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                  There’s no reason to think they’d only orbit Earth!

                                                                                                                            • gshubert17 70 days ago

                                                                                                                              The view from Cooper Station at the end of the movie _Interstellar_, of a baseball hit out of the park into the window of an upside-down house reminded me of O'Neill space colonies. I don't recall whether this was a cylinder or torus.

                                                                                                                              • Nr7 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                I follow 70s Sci-Fi Art account on twitter for this kind of art

                                                                                                                                I often use some of the book cover art pictures as my phone wallpaper.

                                                                                                                                • duxup 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                  I always loved how the show Babylon 5 used a similar design for their space station.

                                                                                                                                  • davidw 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                    I grew up reading kids sci-fi with those kinds of pictures... makes me nostalgic!

                                                                                                                                    • z3t4 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                      I don't think these kind of colonies would be effective without a strong shield like the earth atmosphere and magnetic field, and the ability to take a hit from a high speed space object.

                                                                                                                                      • mackal 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                        I used to use one of these as my wallpapers. A friend was bugged that had been using it for years so he gave me a nice print of it and I switched to a different image from this archive :P

                                                                                                                                        • ohiovr 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                          What do they do with all the single use plastic containers?

                                                                                                                                          • p1necone 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                            These images make me want to play space orbital sim city.

                                                                                                                                            • Animats 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                              Plus the moon colonies needed to mine materials and launch them to L4 and L5 with a catapult, to be caught by a spacecraft with a "catcher".

                                                                                                                                              • jotm 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                The Russians had good art too:

                                                                                                                                                Sadly reality is never that good

                                                                                                                                                • philwelch 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  I like how they have helicopters on the moon. I guess it might make sense if you're in a dome filled with air.

                                                                                                                                                  • lthemick 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    Probably not, unless those rotors we're spinning really slowly; you wouldn't need nearly as powerful a helicopter in such a weak gravity...

                                                                                                                                                  • bigodbiel 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    the ideologies (suburbia vs manufacturing strongholds) behind both visions is striking

                                                                                                                                                  • lowlevel 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    I remember seeing these in some book when I was a kid... pre-internet... thanks for sharing.

                                                                                                                                                    • dalys 70 days ago

                                                                                                                                                      This reminds of Larry Niven's Ringworld! Although not identical configurations.

                                                                                                                                                      • sandworm101 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                        I remember having books with such art as a little kid. Im so old.

                                                                                                                                                        • le3dh4x0r 70 days ago

                                                                                                                                                          This needs some syd mead

                                                                                                                                                          • buboard 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            Obligatory reference to Isaac Arthur's youtube channel where you often see this artwork


                                                                                                                                                            • kwccoin 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              Is the cylinder design related to the Rama?

                                                                                                                                                              • mauflows 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                as seen in Halo and Mass Effect

                                                                                                                                                                • Dyermarker 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  These don’t exist because they can’t fake them like the moon landings.


                                                                                                                                                                  • jotm 71 days ago
                                                                                                                                                                    • charlesism 71 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                      It would be more apt to use futuristic music from the 1970s There was already enough electronic music to form whole genres, like New Age (Space Music) and Space Disco.

                                                                                                                                                                    • m23khan 70 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                      to me, colonialization of other planets seem like alchemy of our times. Every basic item is missing in Mars and will people be willing to survive in domes and astronaut type suits for their entire lives? Then there is a matter of what type of meaningful work people will engage in? what type of education to give to kids? Which currency to pay them in? What nationality would they have? Are they a new country?