In NASA’s vision of the future 47 YEARS ago, people live in a bizarre “space tube”

Once upon a time, Nasa believed that one day we would live in giant inflatable space donuts.

The US space agency designed a wheel-shaped habitat nearly five decades ago that would house up to 140,000 residents.

In 1975, NASA made plans for a donut-shaped space habitat


In 1975, NASA made plans for a donut-shaped space habitatCredit: NASA/Rick Guidice

In the early 1970s, Nasa was at a crossroads after abandoning the Apollo program and landing astronauts on the moon.

Scientists have been searching for the next milestone in space exploration, with some targeting Mars and others exploring space colonies.

In 1975, NASA examined possible designs for a space city in the Summer Study conducted at Stanford University.

Perhaps the craziest proposed scheme was the Stanford Torus, a ring-shaped station that would sit between the Earth and the Moon.

According to NASA designs, the torus would be one mile in diameter and rotate once a minute to create artificial gravity.

Between 10,000 and 140,000 people would live in the colony, mining the moon and nearby asteroids for resources.

They would live on the inside of the outer ring, raising animals and livestock in fields like those on Earth.

Giant solar panels would collect energy from the sun, while giant mirrors would reflect dangerous radiation.

The Stanford Torus was one of three space colony designs proposed in Nasa’s Summer Study.

Artistic impressions of the concept were developed by NASA’s Ames Research Center and illustrated by Don Davis and Rick Guidice.

Then-NASA Administrator James Fletcher said the paper posed big questions for humanity.

He said the purpose of the study is “to assess the human and economic impact and technical feasibility”.

Fletcher added that “the participants in this effort have provided us with a vision that will capture our imaginations and expand our minds.”

The three stations are icons of speculative design, but Nasa never came close to building them.

The huge costs, the transportation of materials, the potential for radiation poisoning of residents and more proved to be insurmountable challenges.

The idea wasn’t even new. In 1952, pioneering NASA engineer Wernher von Braun presented similar concepts for space stations.

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Eventually, however, Nasa built its space habitat — the far less luxurious International Space Station.

Orbiting 250 miles above Earth, the lab is simultaneously home to up to six astronauts from space agencies from around the world.

The station would rotate to create artificial gravity for residents


The station would rotate to create artificial gravity for residentsCredit: NASA/Don Davis
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