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10 Amazing Retro Failures of Space Exploration

With the massive mission NASA was charged with in exploring space, not to mention other countries, there’s always been plenty of brainstorming going on along the way. And that means there were plenty of ideas that were considered, and sometimes even tried, but never got off the ground. Or got off the ground and then failed. Take the Stanford Torus, for example, a 1975 plan for a sustainable space colony.

The Stanford Torus wouldn’t just become incredibly iconic. It was ultimately selected by NASA as the most practical design that was submitted. A circular craft formed by bending a hollow tube, the Stanford Torus has been the basis of countless sci-fi movies and books… but, we’re calling it a Retro Fail because it never made it off the drawing board due to a few logistical problems that still haven’t been solved.

Students calculated that if the station was formed from a tube of specific measurements (130 meters in diameter, 5.6 km long, and the circle was 1.8 km across), spinning it at a rate of exactly one revolution per minute, those on board would be subjected to the same effects as The Earth’s gravitational pull. It would also have enough room to support 80,000 people, and could be fitted with all manner of creature comforts from parks and gardens to homes like we have on earth.

The plan was ultimately much too ambitious, and lives on only in science fiction: it was used in the movie Elysium. Other ideas included the Personal Rescue Ball, the Dyna-Soar, the MOOSE, and more. They will remind you of movies, though, from The Mouse on the Moon to Gravity. Read about ten such projects at Urban Ghosts.

(Image credit: Don Davis)


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