How People of the '70s Pictured Space Colonies of the Future

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Back in the early 1970s, when Americans were just plain wild about the (seemingly) imminent reality of living in space, a NASA design study attempted to conceptualize just how such an idea could be brought to fruition. The illustrations created to describe how these colonies would look, and what living accoutrements they would contain, represent some pretty funky art from a pretty heady time. Remember, this was a time when it wasn't remotely bizarre that a political neophyte named Ronald Reagan proudly held membership in the Pan American World Airways' First Moon Flights Club—whose first departure was scheduled for the year 2000. People were so enthused about sweet, sweet space living, they started making candy inspired by the possibility. (Anyone remember "Space Dust"?)

The Atlantic has a riveting article on how these colonies were conceived, and some fantastic images from a time when space colonization was viewed as a natural logistical progression for mankind, and not a crackpot scheme dreamed up by a lazy science fiction writer. Some of the illustrations look like scenes from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was released only a few years before these images were dreamed up by ambitious architects predicting a comfortable future for people raising families in space.

It's a sad truth, but few things die faster than an old-timey vision of the future.

July 21, 2011 - 12:11pm
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