We will Build an Elysium-Like Space Station in the next 150 years, NASA scientist Explains

The movie Elysium which was released in August 2013 shows scenes where humanity has advanced and build a sophisticated and massive rotation space station placed above a dystopic Earth in 2154. The station is built to be sustainable to meet the futuristic needs of its occupants. It has water, gravity, mansions, trees, and other sustaining things that its habitants enjoy. Since the earth is beyond repair in the movie, the elite and the most powerful people left the earth to live on the space station.

Based on the futuristic concept of the Elysium-like space station, you may begin to wonder when humanity will attempt to replicate such in reality. However, scientists are already seeing the science behind the Elysium space station. How can we replicate an Elysium-like space station in reality and what is the science behind it? Continue reading to find out.

How we will build Elysium like Space Station in the future

Building a space station Elysium requires a lot of effort and technological advancement from humans. However, our resilience to advance and thrive outside our home planet has kept us advancing and inventing technologies that will improve the quality of life outside our habitable home planet. Living outside our home planet to see what the universe preserve for humanity has remained one of our space exploration goals since we embrace the space race in the last century.

The International space station which was launched in 1998 has become one of the most sophisticated technologies humans have ever placed in low earth orbit. One of the NASA scientists that worked on the International Space Station strongly believed that humans will achieve Elysium Space Station someday in the future.

“The premise is totally believable to me. I spent 28 years working on NASA’s International Space Station and retired last summer as the director of ISS at NASA Headquarters,” Mark Uhran, former director of the International Space Station Division in NASA’s Office of Human Exploration and Operations, told Space.com. “When I took a look at the Elysium space station, I thought to myself, that’s certainly achievable in this millennium.”

Elysium space station in the movie was shown as a paradise that orbits around the earth. Only the wealthy people lived in this space station, while the poor class was left behind on earth living in poor and unhealthy conditions. Matt Damon, who played the role of the protagonist in the movie decided to leave the dystopic earth to visit Elysium to give himself a better future and save his life. 

However, the Elysium Space Station that we anticipate building in the future won’t be like what was shown in the movies. It may be opened to researchers, tourists, and anyone who wishes to work and live outside earth. 

The movie director, Neill Blomkamp shared how he derived the concept of this futuristic space station in his note.

“Back in the ’70s, people were actually discussing the idea of leaving Earth and building space stations for us to potentially live on one day,” Neill Blomkamp wrote in the film’s production notes. “One of the top answers to that challenge was the Stanford Torus. I like the idea of taking this well-known concept and caking it with wealth, diamonds and Bel Air-style mansions the idea, the image of putting these exorbitant, ridiculous mansions on a doughnut-shaped space station is hilarious to me, and it becomes something I want to make a movie about.”

Future engineers will attempt to go the extra mile to replicate the idea of the space station. But since we are yet to create most technologies deployed in this space station, we are still years ahead of bringing this future into a reality. 

“If you threw everything you had at it, could you reach a space station of the scale of Elysium in 150 years?” Uhran told SPACE.com. “That’s a pretty tall order.”

Uhran estimated that we could attain such a milestone in 150 years, as humans must have advanced technologically to invent most technologies used in the movie.

How Humans Will Solve the Problems That Will Stop us from Building Elysium like Space Station

Building such a sophisticated space station as Elysium requires a lot of effort and advanced technologies. We will be faced with the following challenges in replicating this futuristic idea.

1. Propulsion System.

Currently, we only use chemical propulsion rockets to reach orbit. Since the Elysium-like space station would be built to be so large and massive, we need a more advanced propulsion system that could make it possible to transport a large quantity of materials into orbit to facilitate the construction of the Elysium space station.

Hence, scientists would have to create a new type of propulsion system that could send a massive quantity of materials into space to see to the development of this project. Many scientists are looking at nuclear propulsion which could be possibly created in the future. If scientists successfully created this sophisticated propulsion system before the end of this century, we may fasten our progress toward building the Elysium space station.

“In order to lift that much mass into orbit or even to go retrieve it from asteroids or mine it on the moon, you probably couldn’t do it with chemical propulsion,” Uhran said. “That’s a lot of mass in that Elysium space station.”

Going by Uhran’s view, you could see that nuclear propulsion will go the extra mile to set a new pace for humanity.

2. Creating gravity.

In the movie, Elysium, citizens of this floating paradise walk around freely as if they are still living on earth. This is because of artificial gravity. With the engineering behind artificial gravity, people can do things that they use to do on earth in the weightless environment of space.

Since this concept is so important in space exploration and habitats, NASA and other space agencies are already working on the development of artificial gravity to reduce the impact of the weightless environment of space on the human body. But since we have not invented artificial gravity, astronauts aboard the space station have to adapt to life in microgravity.

Uhran believed that NASA is currently on the move to create artificial gravity.

“Whether or not NASA’s efforts to adapt humans to microgravity will be successful if they stay in space for years at a time,” Uhran said. “It may, and if it’s not, then at some point in the future, NASA, or whoever develops space stations 100 years from now, may have to go the way of rotating spacecraft and create artificial gravity. There are plenty of concepts for doing that.”

Once we successfully created artificial gravity in space, citizens of this future space station will enjoy the same environment and living conditions as people living in Elysium space station in the movie.

3. Other basic needs.

People living aboard Elysium will need water, food, electricity, protection from space radiation, and other basic needs for survival. The good news is that we have advanced enough to provide some of these basic needs to astronauts aboard the international space stations. If we can do this in the early 21st century, imagine what humans will be doing 150 years from now. People that will live aboard this futuristic space station will enjoy every basic need as humans do enjoy the earth.

Conclusion

Living on an Elysium-like space station has remained the goal of many people. However, we will possibly attain such a milestone in the future with the effort made so far. What do you think about humans building this type of space station in the future?

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