Category Archives: Space Settlement

NSS Space Forum: Sustainable Space Development – Doug Plata

Check out the upcoming National Space Society Space Forum with Dr. Doug Plata, President and founder of the Space Development Network. He will talk about the  Network’s plan for sustainable space development and focus in particular on The Space Fair and Instabase projects. The presentation on Zoom is set for Thursday, July 13, 2023, 9:00 pm to 10:15 pm EDT.

[ Update July.17.2023: Here is a video of the event:


From the NSS announcement:

The Plan for Sustainable Space Development is the plan proposed by the Space Development Network for the initial development of space. It has similarities to the NSS Roadmap, but it is focused on the near term, what is probable, and a specific timetable. Doug’s presentation will focus on two aspects, The Space Fair and Instabase.

The Space Fair is made from the exhibits which were displayed at ISDC 2023 in Frisco, Texas and which filled a conference room, much to the delight and enjoyment of the attendees. The Space Fair is divided into 15 categories and Doug will review the sections as they provide an interesting summary of the plan.

Following that introduction to the plan, Doug will explore their proposed concept for the Initial Permanent Bases on the moon and Mars. This Instabase would be designed to house the very historic, Initial Permanent Crew of eight. Doug will explain why they  believe that inflatables make the best sense not only for the Initial Permanent Base but for the initial phase of the International Bases on the Moon and Mars. They could use very large, 100 ton inflatables delivered via Starship. Doug will systematically go through the various modules of the InstaBase and then describe the scenario for the Initial Permanent Crew.

Don’t miss this informative space forum that will feature the innovative concepts for habitation on the Moon proposed by the Space Development Network.  Doug will also share more about the Space Development Network and answer all of your questions. …

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Doug Plata is a physician in Redlands, CA.  He is the President and Founder of the Space Development Network, a free-to-join organization of space advocates networked to advance space development projects. Doug has served on multiple committees of different space advocacy organizations. He has made dozens of appearances and presentations at conferences and on the radio.  He recently oversaw the completion of a full-scale Moon-Mars base mock-up named the InstaBase which is to be displayed during major Starship launches. His primary interest is the establishment of large, inflatable, and sustainable bases as the initial permanent bases on both the Moon and Mars.

Register for the event here.

Hear also Doug discuss Space Development Network initiatives in interviews on The Space Show.

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Videos: “Space to Ground” & other space habitat reports – Nov.19.2022

Here is the latest episode in NASA’s Space to Ground weekly report on activities related to the International Space Station:

** U.S. Spacewalk 81 Animation – Nov. 14, 2022 – NASA Video

NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio conducted a spacewalk outside the Quest airlock of the International Space Station Nov. 15 to erect a bracket on the starboard 6 truss upon which an ISS Rollout Solar Array (IROSA) will be attached after it is delivered on a future SpaceX Cargo Dragon flight. The IROSAs are being installed for six of the eight space station power channels to augment the power capability for the orbital outpost. Narration by Kieth Johnson, EVA task Flight Controller

** Spacewalk Outside the International Space Station with NASA Astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank RubioNASA

NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio are conducting a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Tuesday, Nov. 15, to assemble a mounting bracket on the starboard side of the station’s truss assembly. The spacewalk, which will prepare the future deployment of additional solar arrays for the station, is scheduled to begin around 8 a.m. EST (1300 UTC) and last for about seven hours.

Cassada (wearing the suit with red stripes) and Rubio (wearing the unmarked suit) are part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which arrived at the station on Oct. 6, 2022. This is the first spacewalk for both astronauts.

** Russian Spacewalk 55 Animation – November 16, 2022 NASA Johnson

Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin conducted a spacewalk outside the Poisk module of the International Space Station to prepare a radiator for its relocation from the Rassvet module to the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The radiator and an associated airlock launched in 2010 on Rassvet on a space shuttle mission will continue the outfitting of the Nauka module for future use as both a research facility and a second airlock for Russian-segment based spacewalks. Voice over by Mitchell Harger, EVA Integration and Operations Lead

** Space Station Astronaut Discusses Life In Space With ABC’s Good Morning America – NASA Video

Aboard the International Space Station, NASA Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Nicole Mann discussed life and work aboard the orbital outpost during an in-flight interview Nov. 18 with ABC’s “Good Morning America”. The quartet is in the midst of a long duration mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory. The goal of the mission is to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future human exploration through the agency’s Artemis missions, which will send astronauts to the Moon to prepare for future expeditions to Mars.

** SpaceX CRS-26 Research: OverviewISS National Lab – YouTube

SpaceX’s 26th Commercial Resupply Mission to the International Space Station (ISS) features dozens of experiments that will be performed over the coming weeks. Many are sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, and this video highlights some of those investigations. To learn more about all ISS National Lab-sponsored research and technology development investigations on this mission, visit the ISS National Lab launch page:…

** See Chinese spacewalkers work outside Tiangong space station in these highlights  – VideoFromSpace

Chinese astronauts Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe installed a “connection “bridge” between the three modules” of the Tiangong space station during a spacewalk on Nov. 17, 2022. It was the the third spacewalk for the Shenzhou-14 crew.

** Shenzhou-14 Crew Install Connection Device Between Space Station Modules During EAVs – CCTV Video News Agency

China’s Shenzhou-14 astronauts installed a connection device between the modules of the country’s space station on Thursday during their third extravehicular activities (EVAs).

** Gateway Overview Video NASA Johnson

** ISS Live video stream – IBM/ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment

Currently, live views from the ISS are streaming from an external camera mounted on the ISS module called Node 2. Node 2 is located on the forward part of the ISS. The camera is looking forward at an angle so that the International Docking Adapter 2 (IDA2) is visible. If the Node 2 camera is not available due to operational considerations for a longer period of time, a continuous loop of recorded HDEV imagery will be displayed. The loop will have “Previously Recorded” on the image to distinguish it from the live stream from the Node 2 camera. After HDEV stopped sending any data on July 18, 2019, it was declared, on August 22, 2019, to have reached its end of life. Thank You to all who shared in experiencing and using the HDEV views of Earth from the ISS to make HDEV so much more than a Technology Demonstration Payload!


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Rothblatt/NSS Space Settlement in Our Lifetime competition renewed for 2022

An announcement from the National Space Society (NSS):

NSS and Martine Rothblatt Renew the
Space Settlement in Our Lifetime Business Plan Competition
for 2022

Second Annual Business Plan Contest Doubles Prize Money

The National Space Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Martine Rothblatt has renewed her challenge to the space community to develop compelling business plans to enable space settlement in our lifetimes. The annual Rothblatt Space Settlement in Our Lifetime competition consists of three awards of $16,000, $10,000, and $6,000 USD for the best business plans that reflect Dr. Rothblatt’s vision for space settlement.

Dr. Rothblatt has been a pioneer in satellite communications, founding the Sirius XM radio network in 1990. She later became the chairwoman and CEO of United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company devoted to prolonging human life. Her trailblazing work in organ replacement has saved countless lives and will be a key technology in creating sustainable communities in space. Her vision for space settlement is vast, encompassing the next century of human migration into space.

“Dr. Rothblatt’s vision for space settlement explores every facet of our ultimate journey beyond Earth,” said Michelle Hanlon, the president of the National Space Society. “She foresees not just the migration of human beings to free-floating space habitats, but the preservation of individual human identities via digital ‘mindfiles’ that can be integrated into new bodies. This kind of thinking really pushes the boundaries of human creativity and innovation. We are confident that her Space Settlement in our Lifetime business plan competition will continue to push the same boundaries.”

The first Rothblatt business plan competition selected three prize winners at the NSS’s Space Settlement Summit in Beverly Hills, California in November 2021. For 2022, winners will be announced at the society’s annual International Space Development Conference in Arlington, Virginia which runs from May 27-29. One representative from each winning team will have their travel expenses covered to attend the conference.

The Space Settlement in our Lifetime competition is open to anyone, of any age, anywhere on Earth (local laws and restrictions may apply). Those wishing to enter must create a compelling business plan that will help to enable some aspect or increment of space settlement. See more at Two informative presentations by Dr. Rothblatt can be viewed there. The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2021. All business plan submissions should be made in PDF format.

“We hope to see some remarkable new business plans, just as we did in 2021,” said Rod Pyle, Editor-in-Chief of Ad Astra magazine, NSS’s official publication. “Martine is an incredible person—one of a small number I can call a true visionary—and her concepts for the future of humanity are truly inspiring. Writing about competition for Ad Astra each year fills me with a sense of hope for our future in space. Thanks again to Martine for supporting this endeavor, and I encourage anyone with a profound idea for a business that will, in some way, support the future of human communities in space to enter the competition!”

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The High Frontier: An Easier Way

National Space Society’s ISDC 2021 – virtual 4-day conference – opens June 24

The National Space Society‘s annual meeting – International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2021)–  starts today, June 24th as a virtual on-line event. The presentations on the first 3 days are available at no charge. An Interactive ISDC Sunday ($45) will bring “participants into contact with leading space experts in an interactive format. These discussions [will be] challenging and stimulating. : June 24-26 – free, June 27 – $45

The above graphic shows some of the Speakers.  Check out the elaborate Schedule of talks, panels, and debates.

From the NSS:

Please join us on Thursday-Sunday, June 24-27, for our multi-day virtual event, ISDC 2021. This exciting, four-day virtual event looks at the future of space exploration, development and settlement. And best of all, it’s entirely FREE for the first three days! Beginning at 12:00 PM EDT (9:00 AM PDT).

For complete information including a full schedule, go to

The International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®), will focus on key areas of space development: space settlement, space policy, space solar power, Moon, and international space programs and will include presentations by students from the Space Settlement Design Competition and the NSS Space Settlement Contest. ISDC 2021 will be a virtual event showcasing the technologies, people and organizations that will lead us to develop the final frontier!

ISDC 2021 presents the finest minds in this movement to develop space, with experts presenting the latest visions of humanity’s migration into space: where we will go, why we will go there, and how we will do so. Speakers include engineers and scientists working in new space; top minds from the aerospace and defense sectors; and educators, physicians, and investors focusing on the business and future of space travel, settlement, and exploration.

“The High Frontier” – A new documentary about Gerard K. O’Neill and space settlement

The  movie The High Frontier: The Untold Story of Gerard K. O’Neill will premier this Saturday, April 17th at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT on You can register to watch it for free via eventbrite.

Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill was an American physicist, inventor, and space activist best known for writing the 1977 book, ​The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space.​

The book details how humans could build rotating space habitats in low-Earth orbit using a design he called the “O’Neill Cylinder.” The habitat could recreate Earth’s gravity and would house millions of people for work and play, eventually solving the major concerns facing Earth such as hunger, overpopulation, dwindling resources, and war. His book and activism launched the movement to the global stage, forever inspiring a generation of free thinkers and space leaders, altering the course of American space industry forever. Dr. O’Neill passed in 1992 from Leukemia, but his vision still lives on thanks to the “Gerry’s Kids,” those who were inspired by Dr. O’Neill and keep his vision alive today.

The High Frontier

is a documentary film about the life and influence of Gerard K. O’Neill told through the eyes of his peers, family and the younger generation he inspired during the 1970s and 80s who are now leaders in the modern day space race. Through old stories of “Gerry” as many called him, and the social impact he made on the world, this documentary pays tribute to the unsung hero of today’s space race, while hoping to inspire all ages and walks of life to reignite our planet’s space venturing spirit.

Here is the trailer:

The film will be available via VOD release on April 18th, 2021 on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft Stream, and Fandango. Details about the film can be found at The High Frontier: The Untold Story of Gerard K. O’Neill – IMDb.


The Space Studies Institute (SSI) was founded by O’Neill and the institute continues to support research and development of technologies that will enable space settlement . Check out their gallery of space settlement art.

A Bernal Sphere design for an in-space habitat.

SSI offers the  Kindle version of The High Frontier book  by O’Neill for free at Amazon.

Space Habitat - Rick Guidice
A rendering of a pair of large space habitats by Rick Guidice


Prof. O’Neill was a big influence on my own life. I can recall a rainy gray autumn day in 1974 when I went to the mail box and found my latest copy of Physics Today. I was amazed to see that the cover of the usually staid trade publication depicted a huge space station. The article, The Colonization of Space by O’Neill, was equally unusual in the striking contrast between the mind-boggling boldness of his space habitat concepts and the matter-of-fact, down-to-earth manner in which he presented the motivations for such undertakings and how they could be accomplished technically and economically.

I was still a big space fan at the time but there had been a collapse in public interest in space in those post-Apollo years of the 1970s. The gigantic effort and expense that went into putting just a handful of people on the Moon for brief sojourns convinced most everyone that space travel was very impractical and that the domain beyond out atmosphere was as uninspiring as the bottom of the deep dark ocean. O’Neill’s ideas radically refuted such assertions. Colossal space habitats would become verdant islands thriving in the light of a brilliant sun, enabling the rise of new cultures and the opening of our vast solar system to endless exploration and utilization of its riches.

“The Stanford Torus – This space habitat design resulted from a NASA-Ames/Stanford University summer study. It’s a wheel 1.1 miles in diameter.”

As the film’s trailer indicates, O’Neill’s writings and articulate promotion of space habitats revitalized and re-energized interest in human spaceflight for many people. Quite a number of those “O’Neillians” continue to this day to work for the settlement of space.

The appeal of O’Neill’s habitat ideas certainly sustained my own interest in space and inspired my efforts with HobbySpace and other activities, which I hope have contributed a little bit towards encouraging  public interest and excitement in space.

Unfortunately, we don’t yet have giant habitats in open space or even small bases on the surface of the Moon or Mars. For settlements to be feasible, O’Neill counted on the Space Shuttles to lower the cost of getting to space dramatically. Unfortunately, the failure of the Shuttles to come even close to that key goal not only undermined arguments for giant space habitats but for most any human endeavor in space. Lowering space access costs thus became the focus for the past few decades for O’Neillians, some of whom pursued rocket ventures themselves or advocated for government initiatives like the DC-X/XA prototype reusable rocket and NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo program. Such efforts have shown progress as seen by the significant drop in launch prices with the arrival of SpaceX’s partially reusable Falcon 9 rockets. The fully-reusable, fast turnaround Starships now in development could offer the break-through that finally enables affordable space travel.

Elon Musk discounts in-space habitats and sees Starships as the means to create a city on Mars. However, such vehicles will be available for all sorts of space endeavors and space stations are sure to be among these. If designed to grow incrementally and take advantage of resources from the Moon and the asteroids, such orbital installations could eventually evolve into O’Neill’s islands in the sky.


Here is a “Roundtable TV interview” from 1975 in which O’Neill and Isaac Asimov discuss in-space colonies with former Esquire editor Harold Hayes:

[ Update: Here is a Planetary Society podcast program about the High Frontier movie: The High Frontier: A New Documentary About Gerard K. O’Neill – The Planetary Society

Physicist and space pioneer Gerard K. O’Neil gathered a community of followers as he led planning for vast, magnificent human settlements in space. Guests Dylan Taylor, Will Henry and Ryan Stuit have produced an inspiring, feature-length tribute to O’Neill that stars space luminaries including Jeff Bezos, Frank White, Lori Garver, Rick Tumlinson, and many others. Then Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan are joined by a special listener guest on What’s Up.


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