Issue #2(28) 2021 Lounge

Designing for life in outer space - The importance of design for long-term space missions

A new sensitive environment for space in which interactions between the astronauts, equipment, machines and spaces are intuitive.
A new sensitive environment for space in which interactions between the astronauts, equipment, machines and spaces are intuitive.
Annalisa Dominoni Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Many new disciplines are emerging as part of humanity’s drive for increased long-term space missions with the ultimate goal of permanent large-scale human habitations in space. One of these newly emerging disciplines, Space Design, focuses on innovation, technology, new materials and wearables to facilitate manned space missions and improve comfort for crews in confined environments and microgravity conditions. Pioneer in the field, Annalisa Dominoni, writes here about her design concepts for habitation modules, devices and equipment to increase well-being and facilitate missions in space.

Design is characterised by a strong propensity for ‘vision’. It is a discipline that can act as a ‘bridge’ between Earth and space. Crossing different areas of knowledge and fields of applications, there are behaviours and technologies from space that can be translated to Earth (spin-offs) and vice versa - terrestrial technologies and behaviours can inspire new projects for astronauts (spin-ins). Design projects, research and experience are revealing the strategic role of design in space, indicating in which fields it can intervene and in which contexts its competences and skills are most required.

The International Space Station (ISS) is an inspiration, not least because it exemplifies two best practices that we would all do well to aspire to; it is an extraordinary example of sustainability because it functions as a sensitive organism and now recycles up to 100 percent of its waste, and it is the only outpost where crews of different nationalities and ethnicities work together in harmony for a common and shared world project; a case study of a multicultural, co-design and interdisciplinary approach.

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