Skylab, America’s first space station

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Skylab was operated by the United States from 1971 to 1979. It operated during a time when the space race was on full blast. Though it was the fifth space station (the first through fourth being the stations launched by the U.S.S.R.), it was the first truly long term habitat in space. Many groundbreaking discoveries were made aboard Skylab although, some of the most important discoveries related to living in space and the difficulties with existing in a zero gravity environment. Skylab was de-orbited on July, 11 1979. It would not be until 1998 with the launch of the first modules of the International Space Station that the United States would participate directly with long term space habitation.

That we know of………..

Mir…… A First Step

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The Mir space station was one of the first long term space habitats. Construction of the station began in orbit in 1986 and took ten years to complete. Mir was de-orbited in 2001 ending fifteen years of service. Until the near completion of the International Space Station, Mir was the largest man-made object in orbit. Mir is a prime example of the ideology that “form follows function” due to the extreme costs and necessity based engineering needed to create such a habitat during that time period. It is far more memorable than the first space based habitat, Skylab.

WHAT IS “SPACE ARCHITECTURE” DESIGN?

It seems a rather poignant question for the very first post of any blog about “Space Architecture”:

What is it?

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If an Architect were to ask a random someone what they think it is, many people may be quick to assume that Space Architects simply take space stations and other space “stuff”, pile it together, and re-arrange it to “look pretty”… and who could blame someone for giving such a terse answer?  After all, that is what Architects accomplish on Earth, isn’t it?

If someone is lucky, they may get a habitual “Googler” instead, and their answer would look like:

“(T)he theory and practice of designing and building inhabited environments in outer space.” – Wikipedia

Better… but not quite the truth either.  There is much more to “design” after all than simply making something “look pretty”.  Before diving in to what Architecture in space tries to accomplish, perhaps it would be a good idea to first understand what Architecture attempts to accomplish here on Earth.