10. Recreation

The recreational facilities will be one of the main attractions of life on a space station. The majority of the population of DL4 will be quite young, (see Appendix B – Population) and so their recreational needs may be different to those of a ‘typical’ community on Earth.  To cater for them the following questions should be taken into account

        What recreation and exercise should be done to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

        What recreation and exercise time will be available to residents?

        What will people want to do with their spare time?

        What would people enjoy doing?

        Will there be any ‘special’ recreational facilities available to people for holidays, or other periods of extended free time?

Although varied in terms of choice of food, the diet will probably also be quite balanced and healthy, due to the low availability of animal fats and ‘over processed’ foods.  This means that ‘mandatory exercise’ will not have to be enforced. Artificial gravity also means that exercise that astronauts require to prevent muscle degradation will not be necessary.  However, those workers who will be continuously moving from the living area to micro gravity and back may experience some adverse side effects.  This area is an example of one that could be better researched on a functioning space settlement, with a variety of gravity levels.

The experience of micro-gravity will be attractive to many people. It may be seen merely as a novelty at first, however it makes the station what it is. Many reports have referred to a separate culture developing on board a space station. Although universal games, like soccer, tennis and basketball will be played, an essential part of any culture is their own unique sports or recreational activities.  This suggests that the station will probably develop its own sports, probably based loosely on terrestrial games.

The computer industry and virtual-reality entertainment systems will, no doubt, be beyond recognition.  The idea of VR ‘rooms’ seemed a little far-fetched when they were first thought of, but on reflection, they seem to be practical and fun. In general, the attitude is, if the technology exists by the time the station is ready, why not? The only limitation would probably be on the power required. Although there is an abundant source of energy in the sun, this type of recreation would not be considered a priority when supplying it, and so may be built further into the life of DL4. The power requirements may also mean that this could be a ‘special’ recreational facility.

Other than that, DaedalusaL4 will be like the typical town. There will be open spaces e.g., a park, for people to take a walk in, a gym, a cinema, and an entertainment complex (see table 10.1a).

Although there will be an extensive and effective transport network within the settlement, residents will be encouraged to lead an active lifestyle and where possible walk to and from their destination - especially within the residential areas.   Taking these points into account the area required for recreation was deduced and allocated to various activities.

10.1      Allocation of Area

The provision of proper recreational facilities onboard the space station is essential in maintaining the morale and long-term health of the station's inhabitants. Accordingly we have provided a generous amount of space for recreational uses.

The standard provision for open space in new housing developments in the UK and Ireland is 2.5 hectares per 1,000 people (ref. 51), and we have taken this as a base figure. Figures for high-density urban developments are substantially smaller and may seem more appropriate. However, when it is taken into account that the space station's inhabitants will have no countryside to escape into; and that this open space figure will also include facilities such as playing fields and theatres, etc, that would not normally be included, we believe it is a reasonable compromise between need and availability.  We have revised it down slightly to take into account restrictions imposed by total station area, and have arrived at a final figure of 1.7 hectares per thousand people (170,040m2 total, or about 17 m2 per person - excluding micro-g area).

Recreational space has been divided into three categories: sporting facilities, non-sporting recreation, parks/open space and low gravity areas.  The following table provides estimates of the space required in each category. Explanations are provided later where required.


10.2      Sporting Facilities

Sporting Facilities will be grouped together into four complexes, so that changing facilities and bars, etc are shared, and to promote as much social mingling as possible.  Some additional small facilities can be scattered throughout the torus. 

Since there will obviously not be enough space available to provide a real driving range or golf course, ‘virtual driving bays’ have been provided instead. Players hit the ball into a padded wall about 2m in front of them, and sensors calculate their drive distances. This seems to be the best way to cater for this popular sport within the space constraints of the station.

These, along with other types of 'virtual reality' sport will, no doubt in the future become increasingly familiar as forms of recreation.  The allocation of space for this purpose will allow the residents to enjoy state-of-the-art recreational activities, as well as the more ‘traditional’ ones

To some extent the sports chosen above represent a slight bias toward western culture, but they have been designed with flexibility in mind – conversion of facilities for use in other sports should prove relatively simple, enabling the residents to cater for their own preferences.

10.3      Low Gravity Areas

The zero/micro-g recreational area has no pre-defined function, and will take the form of a large spherical open space in the centre of the station.  This should be easily modifiable by inserting dividing sections as required.  It is left up to the station's inhabitants to use it as they see fit. It may be used to simply float in, or eventually even for sports adapted for zero gravity.  Meanwhile the Space Observation Deck has already been discussed in 7.1, Internal Design.

Type of Facility

Space required (m2)

Sporting Facilities

Multi-Purpose Playing Pitches


One Large (70m x 50m)



Four Small (40m x 28m each)

1,120 each




Swimming Pools


Four (25m x 10m each)

250 each


Associated Facilities
(poolside space, sauna/hot tub, etc.)

100 each




Tennis Courts
Five sets of courts in three locations (22m x 16m each)
- also usable for Basketball, Badminton, etc.


Four Complexes  (300 m2 each)


Four Children’s Playgrounds (20m x 10m each)


Golfing Facilities


Twenty sets of  Virtual Driving Bays (2m x 1.5m each) in four locations



Four Putting Greens (60m2 each)





Changing Facilities and Club Houses
(sports facilities will be grouped into 4 complexes so that changing space, bar and other facilities can be shared)


Total Sporting Area


Non-Sporting & "Cultural" Recreation

Four Theatres/Cinemas
including Bars/Restaurants with 200 seats


Two General Purpose Function Halls


Bar/ Restaurant Facilities
(this is a planning figure and will be adjusted based on free-market demand once the station is in operation)


Total Cultural Area


Parks and Open Spaces

Corridor Parks


Landscaped Walking Routes


General Open Space
(this is to allow for some non-essential open space being built into all station structures)
(one large central park, and several smaller regional ones)


Total Parks and Open Spaces


Total Recreational Space in Torus


Low Gravity Areas

Space Observation Deck (Central Sphere)


Zero/Micro-G Recreation Area (40m radius sphere)

5,000 = equivalent ‘floor space’

Total Recreational Space


table 10.1a - Allocation of Recreational Area (ref. 51, 52, 53, 54, 55)

10.4      Parks and Open Spaces

Since the station will be relatively small, the primary method of people transport within the torus will be by foot or bicycle. This means that, even though distances are short, people will spend a considerable amount of time in transit along the station’s walkways. Therefore, we have decided to make these walkways as aesthetically pleasing as possible. The extra space allocated allows for the widening of these walkways to facilitate lining them with plants/trees, etc., converting them into mini-parks. This may prove impractical on the busiest routes, but should work well in most places.

A certain amount of overlap, between sports and parks, occurs here, as, obviously the large open spaces catered for by our parks can also be used for sports.  For instance, the ‘natural waterways’ of the parks and open spaces, dealt with later, can facilitate such activities as pleasure fishing and canoeing/boating.  These bodies of water will add a ‘natural’ feeling to the parks, however parkland plants will also enhance this atmosphere.  Therefore suitable plants must be chosen, to be grown within these areas.

Plants for growth in the agricultural area have already been listed.  However, this list does not provide for the plants grown in the recreational area, which will give a more relaxed, ‘natural’ air to the station.  The following list of plants gives an idea of the types of flowering plants, shrubs and some trees that would be suitable for growth on DL4. For economy, it is suggested that any plants grown for aesthetic reasons should be versatile in use, and suitable for growth in the temperatures of the human habitat. In relation to other forms of plant life, for example trees and grass, the choice is not so large, and therefore, the criteria for choice not so strict. 

Our choice of plants for the recreational area fall under three broad headings:

1.       Flowering plants and shrubs

2.       Trees and larger bushes

3.       Grasses

Flowering Plants and Shrubs

These plants cannot just be chosen at random. There is no point in wasting space and energy trying to grow plants that will just look pretty or flowers that will smell nice. Here we have chosen some that, as well as pleasing the aesthetic senses, will also be functional, and may be harvested in small quantities as needed. The plants that have been listed all require temperatures similar to the human habitat (@ 23ºC) and/or require a temperate climate.  The variation in moisture and soil type (all quite similar anyway) can be provided by creative planting within the area allocated to the plants.  Plants will also be available for people to grow within their own personal space adjacent to or on of their accommodation.

The first possible use of these plants is as herbs, spices and flavourings.  Many of the familiar spices, e.g. allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, had to be ruled out. This is because many of these spices grow at tropical temperatures and would not be suitable for cultivation. They would require their own ‘area’ and this was not considered practical, as most of these plants will be grown in the open spaces, parks, and corridor parks, where division will be minimal. However, taking into account those that will be grown in the agricultural area as crops, (Cayenne, Garlic, Ginger, Oregano, Paprika, Parsley, Peppercorn and Turmeric) it is clear that the residents will have a large selection of herbs and spices to choose from to enliven their meals. The herbs and spices grown in Agriculture may also be grown in recreation, however production will not be as efficient (ref.  10, 61).




Basil plant (various varieties) – leaves


Evergreen Bay Laurel tree


Dill weed – leaves, seeds


Oregano majorana


Peppermint plant (Mentha piperita) – leaves


 Brassica rugosa

- mustard greens and seeds are edible


Papaver somniferum L – seeds


Rosemarinus off – leaves


Artemisia dracunculus – leaves


Thymus vulgaris

table 10.4a - Herbs, spices and flavourings

We have also decided to include some plants with medicinal uses.  The popularity of plants in the form of ‘alternative’ medicine is continually increasing, as people seek cures other than those offered by ‘traditional’ medicine. This group of people may include some residents of DL4, so as well as being pleasing to the eye, they prevent a possible imposition on the residents and offer them another small degree of choice. The following list of plants contains some of the more popular in alternative medicine, as well as their use.  Many of these plants have other uses as well.  For example, camomile leaves can be used to make herb tea while elderflower and elderberry can be used to make wine and jam etc. (ref. 61,62,63).

Latin Name

Common Name

Major Therapeutic Uses

Arctium lappa



Calendula off


Antibiotic, wound healing

Capsicum annum


Circulatory stimulant

Chamomilla recutita


Sedative, digestive


Oxycantha  or coccinioides


European or American

Cardiac tonic


Purple coneflower

Immune stimulant

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo leaf (nuts are also edible)

Cardiovascular tonic

Glycyrrhiza spp


Digestive, hepatic, respiratory

Hydrastis canadensis


Antibiotic, astringent

Hypericum perforatum

St John’s Wort

Combats mild depression

Lavandula officinalis     


Relaxation (Aromatherapy)

Lobelia inflata



Melissa off

Lemon Balm


Mentha piperita



Panax quinquefolium L


Energy tonic

Rosemarinus off


Circulatory and digestive stimulant

Sambucus canadensis

Elder flowers


Silybum marianum

Milk thistle

Liver tonic

Symphytum off



Taraxacum off



Urtica dioica                     


Alterative, astringent

Valeriana off


Sedative, analgesic

table10.4b - Plants with medicinal uses

Following are plants, the flowers of which are edible, and would be suitable for growing aboard DL4, if the residents so wished.  Some have already been selected to be grown in agriculture or in the recreational area for other purposes, e.g. fruit.  The choice of plants would again be left to the resident's discretion and as with all others, it would be possible for their seed or rootstock to be stored until they were needed. If the residents wish, they may grow them in their own gardens.  The natural disadvantage to eating the flowers of any plant is the fact that no seeds will be produced.

Pansies, Roses, Nasturtium, Calendula Borage, Dianthus, Broccoli, Radish, (white, pink, lavender), Squash, Purple Podded Pea, Scarlet Runner Beans, Hyacinth, Alliums (leeks, chives, garlic, garlic chives), Coriander, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Lavender, Plum, Lilac, Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat), Violas, Strawberry, Hollyhock, Tulip, Tuberous Begonia, Honeysuckle, Carnations, Variegated Geranium, Cornflowers, Gladioli, Daylily, Freesia, Sweet Pea (ref. 65).

Trees and larger bushes

Trees are an essential part of the design of DL4.  They add height, colour and help create a more ‘natural’ environment.  Their primary use will be landscaping of the residential area.  However, some will be grown for other uses, for example the citrus trees will produce fruit.  First priority will go to those with secondary uses (i.e. other than landscaping), however some trees that are suitable for growth from seed, and which thrive in climates similar to that which will be provided in the residential area have also been included.

The following are those, which can be grown and the fruit harvested.  They are easier to grow in the recreational areas than the hydroponic facilities, as they require a support structure (usually provided by the soil).  Some (crops) will be grown in groves or orchards to facilitate easy care and efficient harvesting.

Latin name

Common name

Prunus Dulcis


Prunus armeniaca


Vaccinium occidentalis


Prunus Avium

Cherry (sweet)

Ribes spp


Citrus paradisi


Corylus avellana


Citrus limon


Citrus aurantium, citrus sinensis

Oranges, bitter and sweet, loose-skinned

Citrus reticulata

Mandarin orange

Citrus aurantifolia


Prunus persica


Carya illinoinensis


Prunus spp.




Pyrus communis




Prunus persica var. nucipersica


table 10.4c - Trees and larger bushes

Some of these trees require many years to come to maturity, however when grown for commercial purposes, it is common for some ‘intercrops’ such as beans tomatoes and melon to be grown. Any of the previously mentioned flowering plants would suffice.  Some of the more familiar trees may also be grown, if they are required, however, with the abundance of fruit bearing trees, it will probably be unnecessary.


Grass is technically not a necessity as the playing pitches could be artificial, but as allowances can be made for it, it seemed unnecessary to impose this privation upon the residents.  It will also require significantly less attention, than the equivalent on Earth, to keep the pitches in pristine condition - there will be no unexpected rainfall.  The addition of grass verges to the corridor parks will serve to increase the idea of ‘comfortable suburban living’.  Therefore, controlled growth varieties of grass will be grown onboard.

Soil, Water, Nutrients

Of course, it is not practical to bring about 1,875,000m3 of soil from Earth to grow our trees and plants in.  The solid medium required will hopefully take the form of lunar materials, with the addition of the necessary terrestrial minerals and humus (see 7.2 Internal Design).

Natural waterways, previously mentioned in 9, Agriculture, as a possible source of fish (freshwater fish in running waterways and some lakes and saltwater fish in the remaining large lakes), will be incorporated into the parks and open spaces.  The water for this area will need to be monitored quite carefully, as the minute plant and animal life, which the fish require to live, must not be allowed to find their way into the drinking water supply.  If they do, they will be removed by the water monitoring system as it passes through water recycling loops.  Additionally, as these recycling loops lead to water storage, recreational waterway stocks will need to be replenished from time to time.  This process seems like a worthwhile effort, as it gives the waterways some interest and natural life, while also providing a source of food for the residents.

The water within the waterways will also be used to irrigate the plants in the recreational area.  Although very little control will be needed on the quality of this water, as it will be pumped through a specific sprinkler system (there will be no natural rainfall), it seemed sensible to include some basic water monitoring systems at this stage.  This will ensure that the plants receive many of their required nutrients.  The fact that all ‘rainfall’ will be controlled by human activity also allows the diverse range of plants to be grown in their optimal conditions.  This water will be returned to the recreational water supply (the ‘natural waterways’) once it has been filtered through the soil via an underground collection system.  These natural waterways may also require refilling from the CHX (Condensing Heat Exchanger - see 17.4 Temperature and Humidity Control), as water from the soil is absorbed by the plants and then released into the atmosphere.


Insects, Animals and Birds

The solid medium that is required must be aerated.  Although this can be done artificially, in many cases, it would require disturbing the growing plants, so by far the most efficient method is to bring earthworms.  Bees will also be required for pollination, and two suitable types, (Buckfast and Bumble) have been mentioned in agriculture.

A limited selection of birds, at the discretion of the residents, will be bred onboard.  It is suggested that they could be used to help control the worm population, while being controlled themselves by breeding programmes (not possible with worms as they are hermaphrodites).  They will add to the ‘natural’ atmosphere of the settlement, allowing residents to see things growing and acting outside their control (see 18.3 Psychological Considerations).

With the obvious exception of large birds of prey, there will be no restrictions on which birds are chosen.  Garden birds, such as the blackbird and smaller varieties are recommended, while we feel that large carrion birds (e.g. the crow family) should be excluded.  Pigeons, doves and chickens/cockerels are also suggested but careful consideration must be given to ensuring that the birds chosen are suitable for DL4’s residential climate.  Additionally, depending on the terrestrial origin of the residents, it seems reasonable that the birds chosen be familiar to the majority of the people onboard.