The raddest NASA space colony illustrations from the 1970s

At the peak of the Space Race, both the Russian and the United States space agencies were developing plans to establish permanent space colonies in orbit around our planet and beyond. In fact, in 1975, NASA’s Ames Research Center gathered 19 professors at Stanford University for 10 weeks with intention of not only designing what a human space colony would look like, but also figuring out how these systems might function as self-sufficient, long-term human outposts. The team of researchers was given a theoretical budget of roughly $35 billion dollars (or about $200 billion in 2017 when adjusted for inflation) to create these apparatuses.

While these massive structures may seem straight out of vintage pulp fiction, these colonies were well within our technical and engineering capabilities 40 years ago, and it’s even been argued that a series of such permanent colonies could be readily constructed for less than what the U.S. spends annually on its military.

The Ames Research Center studies concluded with three main design concepts: The Bernal sphere, the O’Neill cylinder, and the Stanford torus. While each design has its own unique structural shape, they all rotate to create a centrifugal force to induce gravity for inhabitants inside. Once constructed in-situ, these colonies would revolve around the Earth in the same orbit as the moon in a sliver of space between the Earth and moon known as the Lagrangian libration point.

At the time of these proposals, NASA had just launched the Pioneer 10 probe carrying a “interstellar greeting card” to grant salutations to any extraterrestrial life too haphazardly drifting through the cosmos. It wasn’t so long ago that the future of extended manned space exploration and colonization never seemed more feasible. In just 14 years mankind went from hurling the most rudimentary of satellites into orbit to quite literally teeing off on the moon using a makeshift six-iron — a true testament to the ingenuity and boundless curiosity of our species.

Unfortunately, more than 40 years have passed since this conference and unfortunately we are still without a drifting Logan’s Run-esque colony glinting in orbit or even the most primitive of terraformed bubbles. Perhaps this will change in the near future — especially if Elon Musk has his way. Whether we ever actually leave this space rock and become a multi-planetary species is anyone’s guess. Only time will tell…

Product Review

With sapphire glass and analog dials, you'd never know this watch is smart

The world of hybrid smartwatches is getting much larger, and the latest comes from a name with history — New York Standard Watches. In our NYSW GTS Activity Tracker review, we find out what makes this watch special, and why we were so…
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.