Mars One made headlines when it first announced it plans for selecting a few candidates for a one-way trip to the red planet. This has been followed in subsequent years by announcements for crewed missions of this ilk, from NASA’s Journey to Mars to the recent revealing of the Mars 2117 Project by UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
No doubt the concept of colonising Mars is highly exciting, but it could be awhile before things really get going despite the ambitious claims of some of these projects: Mars One CEO Bas Landsorp has declared that the first manned landing will be expected to take place in 2027, less than a decade away.
In light of all this, it’s understandable why some parties are beginning to turn towards what appears to be a more feasible target: the Moon. It’s much closer to the Earth and men have landed on its surface before, so why not contemplate living there in the near future?
European Space Agency (ESA) director Johann-Dietrich Worner is certainly thinking about it. He envisions a Moon village that would be open to everyone:
"It's not like the International Space Station, which is more or less restricted to the club [of public agencies]. The Moon village idea is an open idea, free and open access"
If that does happen, we may see some of the prototypes from the Moontopia competition come to life. Held by Eleven magazine, the results were posted earlier this year with Testlab scooping the top prize. The group’s proposal involves starting with a singular unit populated by a small number of astronauts that will then grow and evolve over time, using 3-d printing self-assembly mechanisms to extend its origami-patterned shell.
Taking a less technically-focused yet no less dazzling approach is Jorge Manes Rubio, whose Moon Temple visualisations are the result of a recent residency at ESA. As part of the Peak of Eternal Light project, it’s an exploration of the cultural implications of living or being born on the Moon. How would our lifestyles change? What new tools and rituals might emerge from inhabiting such a different environment?
Designers are also taking inspiration from the Earth’s only natural satellite. Bozhang Design’s Moon Shadow lamps produce an ethereal glow when lit due to a paper pulp shade of varying thicknesses all around, while the Assemblage 5 bronze pew bench by Faye Toogood features a nitrate coating that leaves it with a dull, cold finish reminiscent of the moon’s rocky surface.
Ziiiro’s Lunar minimalist watch is based on the changing phases of the moon, its face consisting of two disks that rotate according to the hour and minute. The Moon Glass by Tale Design follows a similar concept, a charmingly-shaped product that reveals the approaching of a full moon as the glass is filled.
Man may have landed on the Moon way back in the 1960s, but don’t expect this conversation to go away anytime soon.