Posts tagged with "Elon Musk":
The move is a surprising one from Musk, who has publicly railed against mass transportation in the past. “It’s a pain in the ass,” Musk told the audience at a Tesla event in Long Beach, California last year. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.” It may also be a response to the extreme backlash the tech mogul received from transit planners and advocates afterwards, many of whom he got down in the dirt with and called “idiots”. While Musk’s fans applauded the decision, skeptics pointed out that repositioning the Hyperloop’s mission towards public transit garners the company good will from the municipalities that The Boring company needs permission from for the Hyperloop. Though Musk has promised that the D.C.-New York Hyperloop route would follow a similar model, actual construction on any network is years away, even if the project can gain the local and federal approvals needed.
Better video coming soon, but it would look a bit like this: pic.twitter.com/C0iJPi8b4U— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2018
Since the beginning of civilization, architects have kept themselves primarily preoccupied with the buildings and structures here on planet earth. But with Elon Musk predicting that humans will reach Mars in 2025, perhaps it is time to consider architecture abroad—far, far abroad. What zoning requirements will exist on the Red Planet? What materials are there? What tools are needed? In short—what should we consider when planning for Martian architecture?
The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program is attempting to answer these questions. In August 2016, HI-SEAS concluded the 12-month Mission IV, NASA’s longest Earth-based Mars simulation. Funded by NASA and carried out by the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, the program’s main focus is on behavioral research, particularly the psychological and psychosocial changes that would occur in the crew during these grueling, isolating missions. But along with that research, HI-SEAS also offers opportunities to study extraterrestrial architectural possibilities and how design can impact the quality of life to, from, and on other planets.
The HI-SEAS habitat itself is a prefab geodesic dome by Pacific Domes International, an open concept design by Blue Planet Research. The structure has a habitable volume of approximately 13,000 cubic feet, which translates to approximately 1,800 square feet across the main floor, second floor loft, and a workshop in an adjacent 20-foot-long steel shipping container. The double-height main living area contains a kitchen, laboratory, bathroom, simulated airlock, storage unit, dining room, public area, and telemetry room. On the second floor are six bedrooms and a half-bath. A 10kW solar array on the building’s south side and back-up hydrogen fuel cell generator provide energy; a propane generator can be used in the event both systems are down. Water is stored in two 500-gallon potable water tanks (refilled once a month or so), and waste water is stored in two 250-gallon gray water tanks.
Superficially, this setup meets all basic requirements for the crew to survive and conduct research, but as Mission IV architect Tristan Bassingthwaighte discovered during his year-long tenure there, it does little to address the entire scope of human needs. “While it is nice and spacious and open, the actual programming of the habitat and the amenities inside are far from ideal in keeping a crew happy and productive,” he said.
According to Bassingthwaighte, one major issue was the lack of soundproofing and privacy. To be low-impact and semiportable (important factors when building an initial base on another planet), the habitat was constructed from lightweight materials such as canvas and plywood, which do little in terms of acoustic mitigation. In their efforts to find privacy, team members attempted to seek refuge in the airlock (the only semiprivate space), but other teammates were constantly walking through the space. So, in case spending a year with the same six people wasn’t enough of a challenge, they could also hear each other 24/7—a guaranteed method of irritating basically everyone.
With limited access to natural light, the LED lighting within the mostly white interior also began to grate on the crew. “It was more boring than anything,” Bassingthwaighte explained. “We had very fake looking colors and that plus the all-white interior was just so boring.”
Addressing these two concerns are fairly straightforward—Bassingthwaighte redesigned the interior layout to improve the sense of privacy, create additional semi-private areas, and include more flexible lighting options. This was done through minor program changes and introduction of soundproofing materials and more natural LEDs.
But to truly address “the sum of human needs within the space,” Bassingthwaighte and other previous crew architects had to get more creative than that. They concluded that a 3-D printer would be a crucial tool to help reduce the need for spare parts, solve unanticipated issues, and, ultimately, to allow newly settled Martians to build their homes and cities. During actual space flight, 3-D files can be made by designers on the ground and simply printed by the astronauts, who are otherwise occupied with the spaceship; but once crew members have reached their destination, anything can be printed as needed (provided there are a few space architects and designers on board to create the files).
Unsurprisingly, virtual and augmented reality are also important to help people transcend the physical limitations of the space and distract them from their immediate, isolating surroundings. “The major consideration of these designs is people and how to keep them happy,” Bassingthwaighte explained. “Regardless of the surrounding situation, if your living space is flexible with nice materials, nice lighting, and augmented reality to make the space seem larger and more dynamic, then the population is going to be happier.”
And, until we make it to Mars and start to build cities there, working with a different climate, topography, and gravitational force, human-centric design is our best bet for buildings on Earth, too.
- Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh 488 miles, proposed travel time: 47 minutes
- Dallas-Laredo-Houston 640 miles, proposed travel time: 46 minutes
- Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo 360 miles
- Miami-Orlando 257 miles, proposed travel time: 25 minutes
- Toronto-Montreal 400 miles, proposed travel time: 39 minutes
- Edinburgh-London 414 miles, proposed travel time: 50 minutes
- Glasgow-Liverpool 339 miles, proposed travel time: 47 minutes
- Mexico City-Guadalajara 330 miles, proposed travel time: 38 minutes
- Bengaluru-Chennai 208 miles, proposed travel time: 23 minutes
- Mumbai-Chennai 685 miles, proposed travel time: 63 minutes
His series of tweets indicate that while The Boring Company, the infrastructure and tunneling company that Musk founded, received “verbal” government approval, there are still steps to be made before getting formal approval. If the project is actually approved, construction will begin in conjunction with the company’s other talked-about project: underground tunnels in L.A. that aim to relieve vehicular congestion.
Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2017
Musk is already plotting future connections elsewhere, too. One of his follow-up tweets reveals that the next Hyperloop would likely be an L.A-San Francisco track, and maybe even a Texas loop (Dallas-Houston-San Antonio-Austin).
A Hyperloop in the Northeast Corridor could do wonders for the deteriorating rail infrastructure at New York’s Pennsylvania Station, which has resulted in a “summer of hell.” Right now, a regular Amtrak train between New York and Washington D.C takes approximately three and a half hours; the same trip is two-and-a-half on the Acela Express. With a Hyperloop, however, it will only take 29 minutes.
For sure. First set of tunnels are to alleviate greater LA urban congestion. Will start NY-DC in parallel. Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2017
Apparently, local officials in charge of the cities involved were not looped into the conversation; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary tweeted that “this is news to City Hall.”
It’s unclear who Musk received this verbal approval from, though it is likely someone from the Trump administration (where he briefly served as one of President Trump’s advisors), according to CNBC. It will take numerous hurdles before Musk can even begin drilling a hole; he would need approval from the federal Department of Transportation, not to mention the various states, counties, cities, and elected officials.
The entirety of what we know about this proposal is what's in Mr. Musk's Tweet. That is not how we evaluate projects of any scale. https://t.co/kcJR17SMCs— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) July 20, 2017
It is unclear if or how these tunnels will be approved for construction, whether Musk has begun the environmental review process for the tunnels, or if the tunnels will be built using solely private investment or whether the local, state or federal governments will help out. Musk has cozied up to President Trump in recent weeks, attending a technology summit at Trump Tower earlier this month and another meeting on manufacturing just after the president was inaugurated, so it’s possible he could have access to some portion of the president’s purported $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Details for that plan is still forthcoming, but early reports indicate it will rely heavily on Public Private Partnerships and will aim to boost highway, bridge, and tunnel infrastructure—not to mention detention centers, and prisons—at the expense of more publicly-oriented and environmentally-friendly infrastructure like rapid-transit. It is also unclear if Musk has considered taking L.A.’s existing rapid transit system when traveling to the airport. There’s a stop on the system’s Green Line at the corner of the block where Space X’s headquarters sits. Additionally, with the Crenshaw / LAX Transit project due to be completed in 2019, getting to the airport should be quick, easy, and only cost $1.75 each way from there. “Traffic,” after all, isn’t something that merely happens in isolation; it’s a phenomenon that happens as a result of individuals using private vehicle transport to get around.
Exciting progress on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2017