By the year 2000, we'll all be living in a gigantic space station built from moon rocks and wearing tinted glasses and goatees. Or so said NASA in 1975.
In the summer of 1975, NASA Ames hosted a ten week program that brought together nineteen professors of engineering, physical science, social science, and architecture, along with students and volunteers, with the goal of designing a system for the colonization of space that could be made real by the year 2000. The group created a concept for a huge, 10,000 person space colony, and got so far into the idea that they actually wrote up a little narrative of what it would be like to visit the place:
"The space colony appears as a giant wheel in space. Still you cannot comprehend its size, but you know it must be huge. One of the other passengers who has been on the trip before tells you it is 1800 m in diameter. He points to the six spokes connecting the wheel rim to its hub and tells you each is five times as wide across as is the cabin of your space transport. You look in awe. He tells you that the rough-looking outer "tire"is really a radiation shield built of rubble from the Moon. It protects the colony's inhabitants from cosmic rays.
In reply to your question about the burnished disc that hangs suspended above the wheel of the space colony, he explains that it is a big mirror reflecting sunlight to other mirrors which, in turn, direct the light rays through several other mirrors arranged in a chevron form to block cosmic rays.
As you watch you become aware that the spokes are rotating, but you cannot see any motion in the rim. Again your companion explains; the habitat rotates within the outer shield. Rotation is needed to simulate gravity, but rotating the massive shield would produce high stresses that would require a much stronger structure. The inner habitat tube is accurately positioned within the outer shield so that the two do not scrape against each other.
He points to the hub of the wheel and tells you that is where your transport is heading to dock with the space colony, explaining that local custom has named the docking area the North Pole."
You can read the rest here, including a cryptic reference to a future beverage called "Space Blitz" which apparently can get you drunk. For those of you who'd rather just watch a dude from back in the day explain it on video, well, here you go: