Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Architecture in Space
Space architecture, in its simplest definition, is the theory and practice of designing and building inhabited environments in outer space. The architectural approach to spacecraft design addresses the total built environment, drawing from diverse disciplines including physiology, psychology, and sociology as well as technical fields. Like architecture on Earth, the attempt is to go beyond the component elements and systems and gain a broad understanding of the issues that affect design success. Much space architecture work has been in designing concepts for orbital space stations and lunar and Martian exploration ships and surface bases for the world's space agencies, chiefly the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The practice of involving architects in the space program grew out of the Space Race, although its origins can be seen much earlier. The need for their involvement stemmed from the push to extend space mission durations and address the needs of astronauts including but beyond minimum survival needs. Space architecture is currently represented in several institutions. The Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) is an academic organization with the University of Houston that offers a Master of Science in Space Architecture. SICSA also works design contracts with corporations and space agencies. In Europe, International Space University is deeply involved in space architecture research. The International Conference on Environmental Systems meets annually to present sessions on human spaceflight and space human factors. Within the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Space Architecture Technical Committee has been formed. Despite the historical pattern of large government-led space projects and university-level conceptual design, the advent of space tourism threatens to shift the outlook for space architecture work.