ONCE upon a time, Nasa believed we would one day end up living in giant inflatable space doughnuts.
The U.S. space agency designed a wheel-shaped habitat almost five decades ago that would house up to 140,000 residents.
In the early 1970s, Nasa was at a crossroads having shut the Apollo programme down and landed astronauts on the Moon.
Scientists were on the hunt for the next space exploration milestone, with some targeting Mars and others exploring space colonies.
In 1975, Nasa explored possible designs for a space city in the Summer Study, conducted at Stanford University.
Possibly the most bonkers scheme proposed was the Stanford Torus, a ring-shaped station that would sit between Earth and the Moon.
According to Nasa's designs, the Torus would be one mile in diameter and rotate once per minute to provide artificial gravity.
Between 10,000 and 140,000 people would live on the colony, mining the Moon and nearby asteroids for resources.
They would live on the inside of the outer ring, farming animals and livestock in fields like those back on Earth.
Energy would be collected from the Sun using huge solar panels, while gigantic mirrors would reflect dangerous radiation.
The Stanford Torus was one of three space colony designs proposed in Nasa's Summer Study.
Artist impressions of the concept were developed byNasa's Ames Research Center and illustrated by Don Davis and Rick Guidice.
Then-NASA Administrator James Fletcher said that the paper posed big questions for humankind.
He said that the purpose of the study was "to assess the human and economic implications as well as technical feasibility."
Fletcher added that "the participants in this effort have provided us with a vision that will engage our imagination and stretch our minds."
The three stations are icons of speculative design, but Nasa never got close to building them.
The enormous cost, transport of materials, potential radiation poisoning of residents, and more proved insurmountable challenges.
The idea was not even new. In 1952, pioneering Nasa engineer Wernher von Braun presented similar concepts for space stations.
Eventually, however, Nasa did build its space habitat the far-less-luxurious International Space Station.
The lab orbits 250 miles above Earth and is home to up to six astronauts at a time from space agencies across the globe.
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