Space Colony 1970

Posted by Scott


I’ve seen these sort of retro-future space colony illustrations around here and there but never knew the original source until today. NASA has posted a good sized collection of full resolution scans of the original artwork here. Apparently these were part of a series of NASA studies on space colonization:

“A couple of space colony summer studies were conducted at NASA Ames in the 1970s. Colonies housing about 10,000 people were designed. A number of artistic renderings of the concepts were made. These have been converted to jpegs and are available as thumbnails, quarter page, full screen and publication quality images. There are 16 images presented below.”


18 Comments Leave A Comment


Lucas says:

March 24, 2009 at 11:39 pm

What a great post. I love the old ideas of what people thought the future held. For example, 2001: A Space Odyssey. How different it all turned out eh?


Jesse J. Anderson says:

March 25, 2009 at 12:24 am

When I was a kid I wanted to be a astronaut and I used to continuously check out this particular book on space that included these exact illustrations as well as several other illustrations which depicted what sorts of possible alien lifeforms could live on each planet in our solar system (i.e. for Jupiter their were these super thin membrane blimp shaped creatures that floated in the gas).

Seeing these illustrations totally brings me back – I wonder if I can find that book anywhere…


Nels Nelson says:

March 25, 2009 at 1:27 am

There was a big smudge on the scanner when the intern scanned all of these, its really ugly. Come one NASA.

I wonder if we could have built one of these instead of fighting the Iraq war.


Cliff C. says:

March 25, 2009 at 4:22 am

Thanks a lot for posting these. Again, the blog proves to be an amazing resource.

Thanks and Greetings from NJ. Keep us posted on the F5 Fest in New York, exciting!


Rent says:

March 25, 2009 at 6:35 am

that second image up is a crazy looking perspective…I guess that’s how life in a tube in the vacuum of space would look though.


Scott says:

March 25, 2009 at 10:29 am

Thinks these are cool, have you guys seen Raymond Lowey’s work for NASA? mainly for SpaceLab? They has some originals in the Cold War Modern exhibit at the Vitoria and Albert Museum and they blew my mind.


lydia says:

March 25, 2009 at 3:31 pm

@Jesse J. Anderson
Funny, the part of the book you describe about the blimp-creatures on Jupiter perfectly matches yet another Arthur C. Clarke story called A Meeting With Medusa. And I agree, Kevin, those images have Rama written all over them!


Kevin says:

March 25, 2009 at 5:00 pm

totally lydia,

clarke references the cloud/blimp creatures in 2001 (or was it 2010) also, when dave bowman flies thru the universe. flies thru jupiter and sees “cloud animals” fighting each other. totally nerdy yet awesome.

p.s. David Fincher is slated to direct the movie of Rendezvous with Rama. :-)


Mark says:

March 27, 2009 at 7:47 am

The 4th pic from the top definitely looks inspired by the Rama book. I’m willing to bet it started off as an illustration for it even!