From Living Inside Asteroids to Solar Arks, a Scientist Designs the Space Colonies of the Future

New research explains how to build different types of outposts in space.

The space colony Island 3 by Gerard K. O’Neill (1975).

The next several decades are likely to be revolutionary in humanity’s relationship with space. Instead of just the select few astronauts, a much larger portion of the planet’s population, perhaps hundreds of thousands, could start traveling into the cosmos. They would go on long journeys to faraway planets like Mars, staff the first colonies on the moon and beyond, become asteroid miners and engage in many other professions that will be necessary as we explore this new frontier. But what will these first outposts in space look like and how will they work? 

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