"Over the last 26 years, NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Calif., has organized a global Space Settlement Design Contest to encourage students around the world to tackle the many challenging issues critical to designing habitable space colony environments and transportation systems."
"So as you study your work, your yard, your watershed, your bio-community and human community, your weather, your access to tools, your night sky, and your prospects in Space, be aware that they are studying you."
"I eventually caught up with Stewart Brand in the hallway at the Starship conference. We re-connected for a moment and I then pulled out my copy of "Space Colonies" and asked for an autograph. He chuckled in agreement with my observation that the things people were saying at the Starship conference resonated with what "Space Colonies" set forth some 30 years ago. When I started to recite a quote by Anne Herbert from "Space Colonies" - he cut me off mid-sentence and finished it. "The Sky begins at your feet, think how brave you are to walk around".
Keith's note: Several years ago on a cold snowy day I found myself walking from a Metro stop to the Tesla showroom in Washington for a reception featuring a SpaceX capsule. My walking companions were Eileen Collins and Esther Dyson. At one point i had to confess a story about my one encounter with Esther's father, Freeman Dyson. It was in 1977 at Princeton when he, I, Gerard O'Neill, his wife, and a bunch of other space geeks sat on the floor drinking cheap wine out of plastic glasses. This was the time that Stewart Brand's "Space Colonies" book was just coming out. "Yea, there was a lot of that going on when I was growing up" Esther chuckled.
The notion of Space Colonies has been around for quite some time as an collective idealized meme of what we all should be doing - and perhaps what we could have done by now if the film "2001: A Space Odyssey" was seen as an actual starting point. I have seen the new film "Elysium" and was a fan of "District 9". Elysium has graphics that are simply stunning - and turbocharged with Syd Mead's designs, such that your brain tells you that everything you see is quite real. But the story (a very thin one) serves only as a sequence of pretty things that happen interspersed by other things that inevitably blow up - and this continues until the movie is over. But it sure was nice to live (albeit momentarily) inside a giant space colony - just like the ones we recall from those 1970s illustrations.
With a resurgence in interest in off-planet activities, it is good to see that the old space colony paintings NASA commissioned that had wandered from office to office at Ames are now getting the proper visibility that they deserve. Curiously, some of these paintings by masters of the genre such as Don Davis look as if they were created yesterday. A good meme is like that. It just keeps coming back, self-reinforcing itself each time, until we make it real.