23 May 2017

Ocean Observatory and Ocean Sciences Diving Platform

Ocean Observatory and Ocean Sciences Diving Platform

Wilson McCord, M.A.

The ocean observatory is a bio-inspired design project that will provide an intermediate diving platform and laboratory anchored in the ocean. It will serve as a station between scientific collection points and home laboratories. The station would give scientists the ability to analyze data during and immediately after collection as well as monitor the ocean science data ranging from ocean physics to marine biology. Investigators will be able to view the ocean from beneath the observatory through a thick acrylic base. Limited sleeping space will allow a few scientists to stay for short periods. Numerous institutes and universities collect scientific data from buoys and stations that require a round trip excursion with little time at sea to rest or analyze collected data. The diving platform was conceived by the scientist Wilson McCord. His science platform would allow experts to check their research at the diving station before returning to their home laboratories.   

The Concept of Wireless Energy

Floating Cities : Day 
copyright May 2015 Wilson McCord
Inspired by Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla's Transmission of Wireless Energy

In 1898 Nikola Tesla began systematic research to perfect a method of transmitting electrical energy through the Earth at his experimental station in Colorado Springs. His article "World-Wide Transmission of Electrical Signals" in 1929 explained Tesla's hypothesis that the transmission of wireless energy around the entire Earth was possible. The Tesla Wireless Transmission Theory stated that the oscillating energy would travel through the Earth to all points on the Earth's surface. From his proposed Universal Central Station electricity could send power to lights, heat, and power stations anywhere on Earth.  TO explain his idea Tesla used the analogy of a flexible sphere, a balloon of sorts, that is blown up with a hand pump.  With pressure gauges at every point on this sphere or balloon, each gauge would record the same pressure at all points on its surface.  Before ending this research project because of a lack of funds, Tesla's engineering research at the Wardenclyffe Tower on Long Island succeeded in transmitting wireless energy over seven miles and electrifying Tesla's specially designed light bulbs.

1891  Tesla, Nikola
Experiments with AC current,  Transmission of Electricity without Wires, In:
1993, 2009  Tesla, Nikola
The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla, Adventures Unlimited Press, PP. 241-242.
Forward by David Childress.

Floating Cities : Night
copyright May 2015 by Wilson McCord
Inspired by Nikola Tesla and Ridley Scott

The Birth of Space Architecture 1990


Anthropological Perspectives on Science, Technology, Design and Art
Selected Writing 1989 – 1993
Wilson McCord, M.A.

From: Section 5 : Space Science, Technology and Society

The Birth of Space Architecture: Functionalism in its Purest Form, 1990


This paper discusses the development of the architectural discipline, space architecture. Problems concerning technical and human adaptation to the environment as well as current experiments attempting to solve the problems of space habitability are also discussed. The history of space science reveals foundations in space architecture laid by more than a generation of scientists, designers, engineers, writers, sociologists and many other visionaries. Accomplishments and efforts being made in the advancement of space architecture are also described. The paper concludes that structures designed to fit within the shuttle cargo bay dictate the form of today’s habitation modules, and the laws and poetic license of space will teach us new meanings of form and function.

Key Words: architectural, biosphere, change, development,
environment, form, functionalism, habitability, problems,
productivity, structure, space architecture

To earth‐bound humans architecture encompasses a number of forms where style is sometimes important and the function of a structure does not always meet human requirements. During the late fifties men and women were launched into space in a capsule on top of a rocket composed of various stages. Chuck Yeager (the first man to break the speed of sound) described the first astronauts as "spam in a can." We have advanced the development of this can to the point where architects have begun to work with engineers and scientists making these structures habitable. This paper traces the branch of architecture known as space architecture from its roots to actual space structures and experiments in the habitability of space today.

The idea of humans habituating the orbit of Earth and other planets had its beginnings in fiction. A short story entitled "The Brick Moon" appeared in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine in 1869 describing the adventure of thirty‐seven New Englanders accidently thrust into orbit aboard a 200 foot brick sphere (Hale, 1869). Though he intended the story to be a social commentary, Edmund Everett Hale raised concerns that would challenge future generations in the deployment of manned spacecraft (Hale, 1869). Russian‐born mathematician Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published Beyond the Planet Earth in 1920 (Tsiolkovsky, 1920). The novel described a spindle‐shaped craft in permanent orbit around Earth.

The book appeared at the start of an era in which space travel seemed to grip the public's imagination. As an eighteen year old in 1930 Wernher von Braun read about a lunar voyage and began to dream of leaving the Earth. Von Braun would later develop the V2 rocket used in World War II and the Saturn V used to launch the American astronauts into space and to the Moon. Brought to America in the 1950's after the defeat of Germany, he wrote his own fictional tale about an inhabited space wheel. He also wrote of a reusable winged spacecraft (a space shuttle) that would deploy tons of cargo into Earth orbit. He died in 1977 before this dream came true (von Braun; Thomas Paine, Foreword, 1952).

Arthur C. Clark, holding a degree in mathematics and physics from Kings College, London, turned his visions to writing about space and space travel. In 1945 he published a technical article about communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit and in 1951 a nonfiction book called The Exploration of Space (Clark, 1951). Influenced by these and possible other visionaries the first generation of space scientists began to emerge and make what was once fiction reality.

On April 12th 1961, three weeks before Alan Shepard would be launched into space in Freedom 7, the Russians orbited Major Yuri A. Gagarin (Bryan, C.D.B.; 1979). Three years earlier the satellite Sputnik stunned the American people. On May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States intended to land a man on the Moon and bring him home safely before the decade was out (Bryan, C.D.B.; 1979). The announcement intensified the space race between Russia and the United States.

During the 60"s the science was still young and the quarters in the capsules were still cramped. But America was infatuated with space. This excitement was reflected and concentrated in the 1964/65 World's Fair in New York. "The Federal Pavilion include displays on the phases of the manned space program, the use of satellites for detecting weapons, and the 1962 Mariner mission to Venus" (Bletter, 1989). "...The 1939/40 Fair had anticipated the atomic age but not the space age" (Bletter, 1989). The 1964/65 Fair was the first space (museum) exhibition and brought the message that “…in this age of space not even the sky will be the limit" (Bletter, 1989).  The use of the new space technologies were articulated in a group of exhibitions entitled Futurama, funded and created by General Motors (Bletter, 1989). As visitors passed one of the exhibits within Futurama they saw a colony for the moon with “…all‐terrain crawlers for expeditions, and a space station with hovering rockets and radiation shields…”(Bletter, 1989). This vision was worked out in great detail by the General Motors planners, “…assessing demographic and social trends as well as prospects for emerging technologies" (Bletter, 1989). Though fascinating, a number of writers and critics felt that Futurama and a other similar space city exhibitions at the Fair were engineered for machines but not designed for people (Bletter, 1989).

The accusations of the 1964 Futurama exhibition have become the real problems of space structures today. "...Making the places in space where men and women will live and work safe, conductive to productivity, and humane..." are the challenges that space architects are facing now (Barna, 1990, p.27). Based on an understanding of human needs, the interior environment and human engineering of equipment and furnishings used by astronauts aboard Skylab; a foundation for the intense collaboration between engineers, designers and architects was established. Industrial designer Raymond Loewy laid the foundations for Americans to live and work in space with his work on the space station Skylab. Habitability design services were provided for; The Shuttle Orbiter Program, The Apollo‐Soyuz Test Project and a space station (to be nuclear powered) by the Loewy Company (Loewy, 1979, p.205).

Knocked together out of surplus parts from the Apollo project, that sent men to the moon and brought them back safely, it can be argued that Skylab was not, strictly speaking, a "space station." A space station is usually defined as a structure that can be indefinitely resupplied with consumable items (Bryan, 1979). Skylab could not be resupplied with nitrogen, oxygen or water and after its effective life, it was necessary to abandon the craft (Bryan, 1979).

The Soviet space station Mir is the basis for assembling a permanently operating complex in space supplied by the Soviet shuttle Buran. Beginning in 1957 the Soviets have launched more than seven space stations into lower Earth orbit. "The Salyut six and seven stations were staffed 45 percent of their time in orbit and housed eleven long duration crews including ten foreign cosmonauts" (Banks and Ride, 1989).

The Apollo‐Soyuz flight, where American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts shook hands in space, was the last Apollo launch for America (Bryan, 1979, p.457). It was also the last American manned space flight using a disposable spacecraft and launch vehicle (Bryan, 1979, p.457). The space shuttle, designed as a reusable space‐transportation system, will transport work crews and deploy the space station Freedom into Earth orbit. Its cargo bay has dictated the size and shape of the future habitation module and scientific labs that will be supported by a truss system.

On Thursday, June 30th, 1988 the Home Section of The New York Times featured an article entitled "An Efficiency Apartment for 8 Weightless People" (de Courcy, Hinds, ).  The article described the mock‐up of Space Station Freedom at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The crew quarters are no bigger than a mobile home and the mock‐up is not the final design before production. A number of problems have risen in creating a livable atmosphere for the astronauts who will inhabit the space station.

"Current plans call, for building the $30‐billion space station Freedom 1, a 500ft long, 290 ton living working vehicle to be stationed in Earth orbit starting in 1995" (Barna, 1990).  The station is to be used 30 years for research and the future exploration of space (Barna, 1990). Maintenance of the station and the deadly space environment has architects working on problems never encountered on Earth. The sunny side of the station will experience heat of 400F° and ‐250 F° on the shady side (Barna, 1990). It will be bombarded with ionizing x‐rays and gamma rays (Barna, 1990). And speeding micrometeorites carrying explosive force has cut extravehicular (time outside the spacecraft in a spacesuit) time to 130 hours a year but maintenance repairs would take 2200 hours per year (Barna, 1990).

Architects have begun to solve the problems with engineers by designing the station to be more durable, creating robots for extravehicular work and designing more protective space suits (Barna, 1990). The astronauts must also be protected from sharp corners because of the weightless effect of space. A number of leverage possibilities must be created as well as new designs in equipment and furnishings because of the astronauts' body postures dictated by weightlessness (Barna, 1990). “The threat of infectious disease is ever present…" and "…the psychological and mental effects…" of "...closeness..." to other crew members, "...boredom..." and "...isolation…” are all but inevitable over long periods. These problems greatly challenge habitat designers and the crews (Barna, 1990). Low gravity "...deconditions people, decreasing muscle mass, leaching calcium from bones, and weakens the heart and lung systems" (Barna, 1990). These and other problems must be solved in order for planned space missions to succeed (Barna, 1990). Houston architects Larry Bell of Bell and Trotti say, "The solutions to these problems are where architects can make the greatest contribution to space
exploration" (Barna, 1990).

Bell, head of the Space Architecture program at the University of Houston since its beginning, is co‐founder of the first space privatization company, Space Industries Inc. and a contractor for NASA with his partner Trotti (Barna, 1990). As an undergraduate thesis at the University of Houston in Texas G.L. Trotti and J.R. Dossey designed a fully independent lunar colony, Counterpoint, for about 200 inhabitants that would be located in the St. George Crater, near Apollo 15's landing (Bryan, 1979). The model is on exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. but is only one vision of how we will live and work on other worlds.

"In the hot Arizona desert, in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, near a place called Oracle, the London based Institute for Ecotechniques, involved in eco‐synthesis (the building of artificial ecosystems)...," has "...built a closed ecostructure...," called Biosphere II. A biosphere is an ecosystem that does not allow wastes or life sustaining nutrients in or out (Turner, 1989). Eight humans will live in the artificial niche for two years; only communicating by telephone and computer to the outside world. The system houses thousands of plant and animal species and 30 types of fungi collected from around the world (McCord, 1989). The small world contains; a desert, rain forest, a million gallon ocean, savannah, marshes, living quarters and an agriculture area encompassing 150,000 cubic meters (the size of two football fields)(Turner and Holman, 1989).

The self‐contained terraquarium structure is a gigantic glass ark or greenhouse. Airtight to the outside world it is sealed at the bottom "...with a stainless steel tray 25 feet under the soil to prevent seepage of air from below" (Kelly. 1990).  Many applications for the biosphere have already been discussed.  The practice of this theory, containing life in a self sufficient state unaffected by the outside environment, would allow us to live on other worlds without support from Earth (McCord, 1989). Today these space structures "...don't look much like architecture as it has historically developed on Earth" (Barna, 1990). "The structures involved speak a new language..., but seem to carry messages only about function, while remaining inarticulate about human meaning (Barna, 1990). Bell also notes that when one generation has lived in space "... new psychological and cultural arrangements will emerge, begetting new types and forms of meaning...” (Barna, 1990).

Culture is dynamic, it changes. Whether or not we live in space, new cultural arrangements will emerge. It is most evident that architects will play a large role in the exploration of space. Purely functional architecture has risen from the engineering and design of our first generation of spacecraft. Today’s challenges in space architecture are giving birth to a new language in architecture.

While Larry Bell feels that deconstructivism may give rise to a deeper poetic basis for space architecture (Barna, 1990, p.29), it is most evident that deconstructive forms will rise from our current system of deploying bits and pieces of space structures from the limited space within a shuttle system. With technological advancement and human adaptation to the new environment of space, architectural form will change as space reveals its own poetic style and laws to engineers, designers and architects, challenging Buckminster Fuller’s view that “…all style…” is .”…false imposition…" (Curtis, 1982). This new functionalism will lead to new forms and the development of a new style sense never experienced on Earth, allowing us to live productive lives within the confines of our new environment, space.

References Cited

Banks, Peter M. and Sally K. Ride
1989 Soviets in Space: Scientific America, vol.260 No. 2. Feb.
1989. pp. 32‐40.

Barna, Joel Warren
1990 Home, Sweet Space Station: Texas Architect, 5‐6, 90,
Texas, pp. 26‐29.

Bilstein, Roger E.
1989 Orders of Magnitude: A History of the NACA and NASA,
1915‐1990, Wash. D.C., NASA. pp.167.

Bletter, Rosemarie Haag
1989 Remembering the Future: The New York Worlds Fair
from 1939 to 1964, The Queens Museum, N.Y., Rizzoli
International Pub., pp.208.

Bryan, C.D.B.
1979 The National Air and Space Museum. N.Y. Harry N.
Abrams, Inc. PP. 504.

Clark, Arthur C.
1951 The Exploration of Space, Harper, Astronautics, pp 199.

Curtis, William J.R.
1982 Modern Architecture Since 1900. Englewood cliffs, N.J.
Prentice‐Hall Inc. pp. 431.

Hale, Edmund Everett
1869 "The Brick Moon," Atlantic Monthly Magazine, pp.451, 603, 679
The Atlantic Monthly Volume 0024, Issue 141, July 1869.

Kelly, Kevin
1990 Biosphere II: Whole Earth Review. No. 67, Saulsalito,
Calif, pp. 2‐13.

Loewy, Raymond
1979 Industrial Design. Woodstock N.Y. Overlook Press, pp.

McCord, Wilson
1989 The Cultural Geography of the Space Race, (manuscript),
pp. 14.

Time Inc.
1964. Official Guide New York World's Fair 1964/65. N.Y.

Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin
1920 Beyond the Planet Earth, translated by K. Syers, 1960,
reviewed by M. G. Whillans, Journal of the Royal Astronomical
Society of Canada, Vol. 55, 1961, p. 144.

Turner, Mark Holman
1989 Building an Ecosystem from Scratch. Bioscience, vol. 39,
No. 3, March 1989. pp. 147‐150.

Von Braun, Wernher, (Foreword by Thomas Paine)
1953 The Mars Project, Translation of Das Mars project, 1962,
by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, Urbana: U
of Illinois Press: German edition copyright 1952, Bechtle
Verlag, Esslingen, Germany.