The aim of this project, conceived with Pierre Marx, was to identify - in the light of scientific progress during the last few decades - technological options, constraints, and hypotheses, in order to develop an architectural concept of space city plausible within the time horizon of one or two generations.
The prize "Architecture, technology and design for Space" of the Jacques Rougerie Foundation gave us the opportunity to realize this work with "Apogeios". We want especially like to thank Jacques Rougerie and all the persons who helped us in this research.
Trying to imagine a space city is not only a game of the mind, but another way for addressing contemporary terrestrial issues. Looking forward, we also believe that these cities will one day become a reality, and that we have to imagine today what they could be tomorrow...
Olivier Boisard – december 2011 -
Our project is about the construction of a space city, a kind of "Space Island” in the sense given by the American engineer and researcher Gerard O'Neill. Because this city is not very close to the Earth, we call “her” "Apogeios", a Greek word meaning "away from the Earth". However, she stays in a “neighborhood”, not to cut the umbilical cord prematurely.
We do not, of course, pretend to describe in a comprehensive and realistic way a space city in all its aspects, but more modestly to identify basic guidelines for future researches. Few orders of magnitude, underlined in the text, were the subject of preliminary calculations (with a security margin when necessary). Some important points have been developed. Others, not yet. However, none of them determines the feasibility of the project. They are listed and commented at the end of this text.
Apogeios is not a hollow asteroid, a kind of artificial cave lost in the vastness of interplanetary space. It is, however, the prelude to the gradual expansion of humanity into the solar system even though, at this stage, it concerns only a few thousand persons. Their project will be to build the following cities.
Ten thousand inhabitants may live in Apogeios at first, maybe more later.
Ambitious as it may seem, this project is feasible on an international basis and across one or two generations.
Construction must, for obvious economic reasons, exploit extraterrestrial resources for materials, energy and agricultural production. Therefore, we have first to "industrialize" space in order to produce these materials at a reasonable cost, 3 to 4 orders of magnitude below the current space industry. This is the real techno-economical challenge of the project.
The other challenge is human : Apogeios is not a resort hotel or a cruise ship for tourists looking for short stays in space, anyway for an unbearable cost. Our idea, on the contrary, is that inhabitants will want to stay and appropriate this new place providing a pleasant living environment, a unique socio-cultural space and the freedom to adapt and develop the habitat. But this assumes acceptance by the pioneers of a "new paradigm" in which the Earth no longer occupies the central place - a paradigm yet to be invented …