“You see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’,
I dream things as they never were and ask, ‘Why not?’”
 - George Bernard Shaw

The words of George Bernard Shaw, one of Ireland’s greatest writers espoused an ideal that has motivated those at the frontier of discovery and exploration since the beginning of time. Now at the start of the new millennium we find ourselves at the brink of what will surely be a great age of stellar exploration. Human kind has now taken its first tentative steps towards the stars and the idea of humans living in space is a very real possibility in the near future.

It is against this hopeful background that we first heard about the NASA/Ames Space Settlement Contest on the internet.  Intrigued by the possibilities it presented, we decided to undertake the project. Work on the design began in early May and the final report was completed the following January.

One of the first things to decide when we undertook the project was what to call the settlement. The name the team eventually settled on was DaedalusaL4 {‘day-dah-lus-al-for’}.  The evolution of this name is twofold. In Greek mythology, Daedalus a great inventor was imprisoned with his son Icarus on the island of Crete. In order to escape the wrath of the Minotaur he built wings of wax and feathers.  While his son strayed too close to the sun, melting his wings, Daedalus flew to his freedom in search of new horizons.  We feel the name admirably represents the spirit with which the first humans will venture out to live among the stars, leaving behind them the cradle of earth, in much the same way as Daedalus left behind his captivity. The second part of the name simply refers to the station’s location ‘at L4’, a libration point, in the Earth-Moon system.

One of the questions we have been asked many times since we began this project by our slightly bemused friends is “Why?”.  Our answers may not have been as eloquent as George Bernard Shaw’s but the basic message was certainly the same. The idea of humans living and working among the stars may seem far-fetched to us now but if the pace of technological advancement continues at its present speed, the dream may soon become a reality.

We had two main motivations us as we worked on the project.  Firstly, we have grown up in a world marred by famine, death and war and the idea of a brighter future is something that fascinates all of humankind, ourselves included.  As such, the opportunity to in some way ‘see’ into the future, or at least one possible future, was one we warmly welcomed. Our second motivation was not quite so idealistic – we believed that working on the settlement would not only be an educational experience but would also be fun. While at certain points during the project the idea of fun may have been obscured by equations or computers that just wouldn’t work, or the realisation that there was a major hole in one of our systems, overall it’s fair to say that we all found working on DaedalusaL4 a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Although most of the technological capability exists now to build DL4, we would hope that the economic and political will power could be in place by around 2020, allowing, after rigorous research and development phases, construction to be complete by 2050.  Our settlement consists of a torus, of major radius 1,066m, with simulated gravity of 1g in the human habitats and a spin rate of 0.97rpm.  This section of the settlement will accommodate residential facilities for 10,000 people while heavy industry resides in a 300m radius central sphere.  Such a settlement will probably represent one of the first of its kind and will later aid in the construction of additional stations and a solar power satellite (SPS) infrastructure.