space station
The Interesting Challenges of Designing for Humans in Space





Space architecture, space history, habitability design, critical design challenges, design consequences, in-situ-resources, design innovation, creativity


Extra-terrestrial living and working environments are characterized by significant challenges in logistics, environmental demands, engineering, social and psychological issues, to name a few. Everything is limited: physical volume, air, water, power, and medicine … everything, even people, and therefore all is treated as valuable resource. This situation is complicated by the end product being the result of balancing many competing interests. The relationship between humans, space, and technology is forced, as well as a dynamic process. Although mathematical models for complex systems exist, long-term effects are hard to predict, and even more so to calculate. Even if we had technological solutions for all hazards and threats, there would still be the question of how these subsystems work together, how they are perceived, and if they are accepted by the inhabitants.  Habitability  design is vital to the success of future space exploration. Research into the dynamic system of ‘living together in an isolated and extreme environment for a long time’ does not lead to a single common solution. Instead, designers are left trying to translate differing first-person astronaut accounts into a solution bound by the constraints of physics, schedule, and cost. The early days of human spaceflight were all about discovery. Trying to replace conjecture with experience and fact. For example, the Moon was thought to have meters of soft dust that would swallow landing spacecraft. We have built on the successes and failures, but some achievements have also been forgotten. Today, we use these lessons to create effective designs for ‘living together in the isolated and extreme environment (ICE)’ of space. Following are descriptions of historical and newer examples of possible solutions that show what can be achieved when the demanding constraints of space inspire creative solutions for combining human needs with technological possibilities. 

How to Cite

Häuplik-Meusburger, S., & Griffin, B. (2021). The Interesting Challenges of Designing for Humans in Space. SPOOL, 8(2), 87–104.





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