Space Habitats
8:00 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Designing Homes For Astronauts

An astronaut makes a zero-gravity space joke by pretending to balance colleague on a single finger.
Credit NASA

If an architect on planet earth wants to design a home, he or she must work with the same basic elements designers have used for centuries: floors, walls, and ceilings.

That all changed when designers began planning dwelling units for astronauts. In zero gravity, there’s no up, no down, no reason to distinguish floors from walls from ceilings! Every surface was a potential light source, dinner table (just add Velcro) or toilet (please don't mix them up). But the astronauts living in those spaces had a much different take on that design revolution.

It turns we need more than our basic biological needs met in order to feel comfortable. We need a view of the horizon, we need light overhead (like the sun) and we need the ritual of sitting down at a proper table to share a meal together. The more alien the environment, the more reminders we need of our humanity.

99% Invisible explores design for astronauts, today on KUOW Presents.

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