Ariel Ekblaw on building beautiful architecture in space

Thu, 12 May 2022 05:31:14 GMT
Space Daily

Boston MA (SPX) May 12, 2022 Living in space today is a cramped and utilitarian endeavor...

Astronuats who arrive on the International Space Station are prepared for a stay in tight quarters, surrounded by exposed wiring, bulky electronics, and floor-to-ceiling beige paneling.

What if in-orbit accomodations could be more spacious, livable, and even beautiful? That's a question driving TESSERAE, an ambitious space architecture project led by Ariel Ekblaw SM '17, PhD '20, the founder and director of the Space Exploration Initiative in MIT's Media Lab.

TESSERAE is Ekblaw's unique design for future space habitats, based on a system of magnetic, self-assembling tiles.

In April, the project cleared a recent milestone when TESSERAE samples were flown up to the ISS with Axiom Space AX-1, the first ISS-bound mission to fly a fully privately-funded crew.

During their 15-day stay, the paying astronauts ran tests on TESSERAE, along with other science projects aboard the space station.

Following the mission, MIT News checked in with Ekblaw to see how TESSERAE fared, and what the future of space habitats might hold.

A: Our long-term vision is to be able to scale humanity's presence in orbit, which means being able to build large-scale, inspiring space architecture that really delights people as they float inside - that sense of goosebumps you get when you walk inside a beautiful stunning cathedral or a concert hall.

Further in the future, we might be able to have a really grand, large buckeyball in orbit that has much more open space, and is something more like a space cathedral or concert hall or gathering space.

The tiles would be dispensed into a big space and allowed to do complete self-assembly outside of the space station.

The standard provides guidance to space flight operators on classifying safety-related events.