The Henry Ford Magazine January-May 2022

Page 86

A LOOK BACK HABITABILITY STUDY: EARTH ORBITAL SPACE STATION REPORTS In 1967, late in his storied career, industrial designer Raymond Loewy and a small team were contracted as NASA “space habitability” experts, producing a series of reports that focused on long-duration missions and the problem of how to exist as a “whole human” in outer space. These reports acknowledged the restrictive parameters of spacecraft interiors yet stressed the ability for human-centered design to boost crew morale. They considered sleeping arrangements, modular storage, communal dining, mental decompression spaces and entertainment in zero gravity — including a “one man theatre” helmet and a weighted “space dart” game. Loewy’s plans underscored the most “human” of all space travel design problems: the intake of food and disposal of body waste. The images at right may look quaint to us now, but it is important to note that at the time that Loewy was considering how an astronaut might eat tomato soup in space, plastic squeeze-tube packaging was still considered experimental. As for the inevitable issue of waste collection, Loewy provided several ergonomic space toilet designs, underlining bathroom privacy for crew members. While not all of Loewy’s ideas were adopted, several suggestions were implemented in the Skylab space station, including the biggest astronaut perk of all — a window to gaze at the stars while floating in space. —K RISTEN GALLERNEAUX, CURATOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

d In the late ’60s, NASA asked designer Raymond

Loewy to ponder spacecraft interiors and how humans could live in outer space. Innovative ideas for items such as space toilets (top) and food packaging were outlined in his habitability study.

THE HENRY FORD ARCHIVE OF AMERICAN INNOVATION

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JANUARY-MAY 2022