Regina Peldszus, doctoral researcher in spacecraft habitability, Kingston University, LondonThis is an excerpt from an article published in The Aerospace Professional: March 2010 Out of this World: The New Field of Space Architecture — this is the title of the discipline’s seminal book, published last autumn by the AIAA and its technical committee on space architecture. The dialogue of aerospace and architecture/ industrial design is beginning to flourish, and concepts and ventures are increasingly making news in both design and aerospace media. Not so new a field, however: Especially in the US and Russia, architects have been involved in space programmes from the beginning. To ‘humanise’ Skylab, NASA enlisted the office of industrial designer Raymund Loewy, while on the Soviet side, architect Galina Balashova had already been working on interior programming for space station concepts.
Research experienced a high in the 1980s with reports and studies that became industry standards for space designers, including studies into human requirements and habitability. Later, architects designed the inflatable Transhab concept at Johnson Space Center. European hubs at the Technical University of Vienna, Technical University of Munich and the Polytechnic of Milan followed the example of the University of Houston’s space architecture masters programme and incorporated space design in research and teaching. With Vienna’s Barbara Imhof and her team, the first architects were involved in a European human Mars mission design study at ESA-ESTEC’s Concurrent Design Facility. A number of design studies and a book on new approaches in the discipline followed. Finally, the ongoing Mars500 isolation study at the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems in Moscow investigates, among other issues, the habitability of extremely confined interior environments.