Science fiction gives us glimpses into many different potential futures, including everything from life-prolonging technology to deep space exploration. Some scientists have said that a large part of humankind’s future will be decided by our presence (or lack thereof) in outer space, but for this to become a reality, new ways of sustaining life outside of Earth need to be created. Space stations are an essential part of ensuring humanity’s place in the universe outside of Earth and scientists have come up with many different variations and designs.
Ringworlds, recently popularized through the Halo games, contain one of the most interesting ideas for an artificial civilized world. The theoretical space station includes a gigantic ring-like structure with a habitable surface on the inside portion of the ring. A fascinating idea behind the Ringworld is the fact that through rotation, the centripetal force could theoretically create gravity on the station’s surface.
With progress being made by many different private companies already, this technology could serve as a means of drastically accelerating space technology by making it easier to get supplies into space. The idea behind this space station design is that the station would literally be connected to the earth by an elevator, so while the design does not contain a purely in-space structure, it serves as a crucial step into space exploration and technology.
Created as a workaround to the fact that no material can travel faster than the speed of light (as far as we know) Generation Ships serve as movable space stations that will help humanity spread our reach across the galaxy over the course of a number of generations. An aerospace engineer with a Master’s in Civil Engineering says that, for this concept to work, technology would have to be advanced enough to sustain life in space for thousands of years.
Spherical Stations and Dyson Spheres
Spherical Space Stations have two separate classifications. One is similar to the Death Star from Star Wars, a movable space station the size of a moon, essentially an artificially created planet. The second form is a Dyson Sphere. The idea behind a Dyson Sphere is that it would be built around a solar system in order to keep the sun’s power in and external potential threats out.
There are many different options for humanity’s space presence and each of them help make way for the others. Only the future will tell if these theoretical space stations will come to be or if they are even possible. In the next hundred years alone, our place in galaxy could be infinitely different from what we currently can imagine.