What will space infrastructure look like, once we start to develop cheap access to space via reusable launch vehicles? I applaud concepts like the REL Orbital Base Station, but they seem to be directed more towards "space agency" projects than "public space" -- a massive expansion of space tourism which would see hundreds or thousands of people travel to orbit each year. To that end, I've worked with the artist Federico Melillo ("Feguimel") on a piece of concept art -- the work shows an SSTO delivering tankers of water/polymer shielding fluid to a UK commercial manned station constructed from inflatable modules. The habitats rotate at a low speed to provide between 1/20th and 1/10th of Earth gravity, sufficient to mitigate the worst medical effects of microgravity exposure*. At the station nadir is a cluster of inflatable tanks for a propellant depot, supplying spacecraft flying to the Moon and beyond.
Before you deluge me with detailed engineering criticisms, this is just a bit of fun right now. If you have ideas about what else Feguimel could draw, or if you're a space artist yourself, by all means let me know. I'd very much like to see more artists portraying an optimistic NewSpace future!
Alt.Space becomes Art.Space! This manga-styled poster, drawn by Glenn Andrean of Altiz-Studio depicts a young rocket engineer as she completes a successful flight test of a VTVL RLV. Copies of the poster in various sizes can be purchased from Zazzle.com. Other designs may be created if there is sufficient interest. Glenn is also available for commissions.
A print of this picture will be carried into space on board the Bigelow AerospaceGenesis II space station test module, as part of their "Fly Your Stuff" programme. I am grateful to Bigelow for the opportunity to launch the first manga art into space!
UPDATE: ART IN SPACE! Here's a photo of the artwork taken on 9th July 2007, actually inside the Genesis-II module on orbit! Congratulations to the Bigelow team on a successful launch and deployment of their second prototype commercial space station module!