NASA is full of ambitious dreamers. But those dreams cost money. And Congress has to approve them first.
Ever since the end of the Apollo program, this tension has meant that many of NASA’s ideas are killed before they ever progress much beyond concept drawings.
These ideas have ranged from far-fetched fantasies to financially prudent missions. Some were just sketches and equations on paper, while others materialized into models and test materials. But they all share one characteristic: they never happened.
Here are some of the most fascinating ideas concocted over the years.
Following the success of the Apollo program, some scientists began drawing up ideas for enormous space colonies that would be established on stations in Earth’s orbit. A 1975 NASA study, for instance, envisioned “a space habitat where 10,000 people work, raise families, and live out normal human lives.”