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Space Colonization


“Across the sea of space, the stars are other suns.”

                                                                                    – Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Once the exclusive province of science fiction stories and films, the subject of space colonization has rapidly moved several steps closer to becoming a reality thanks to major advances in rocket propulsion and design, astronautics and astrophysics, robotics and medicine. The urgency to establish humanity as a multi-planet species has been re-validated by the emergence of a worldwide pandemic, one of several reasons including both natural and man-made catastrophes long espoused in the pro-colonization rhetoric.

The long-term habitation of the International Space Station by rotating teams of astronauts, scientists and medical professionals has provided us with a wealth of data to establish parameters for keeping humans alive and healthy for long periods in the harsh environment of space. Here on earth there have been several ambitious projects attempting to duplicate as close as possible the conditions of off-world habitation to test the limits of human endurance.

To be sure there are many daunting challenges facing prospective space colonists such as protection from exposure to deadly radiation levels, the impact on the human body while living and working in cramped, low-gravity environments for extended periods of time and the psychological toll of isolation, confinement and separation from one’s family and society. The benefits that await us as direct or incidental byproducts of space colonization could include advances in architectural design, alternative fuel production, 3D printing and low-gravity manufacturing to name but a few. The NASA Headquarters Library has many resources to assist policymakers, scientists, teachers, students and members of the public with a passionate or passing interest in these areas.

All items are available at the Headquarters Library, except as noted. NASA Headquarters employees and contractors: Call x0168 or email for information on borrowing or in-library use of any of these items. Members of the public: Contact your local library ( for the availability of these items. NASA Headquarters employees can request additional materials or research on this topic. The Library welcomes your comments ( about this webpage.


Benaroya, Haim. Turning Dust to Gold: Building a Future on the Moon and Mars.
Berlin; New York: Springer; Chichester, UK: published in association with Praxis Publishing, c2010.
TL 795.7 .B46 2010 Bookstacks

Caprara, Giovanni. Living in Space: From Science Fiction to the International Space Station. Willowdale, Ont.: Firefly Books, 2000.
TL 797 .C26 2000 Bookstacks

Damon, Thomas. Introduction to Space: The Science of Spaceflight 3rd ed.
Malabar, FL: Krieger, 2001.
TL 791 .D36 2001 Bookstacks

Davenport, Christian. The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos. Public Affairs, 2018.
TL 789.85 .A1 D38 2018 Bookstacks

Eckart, Peter. The Lunar Base Handbook: An Introduction to Lunar Base Design, Development, and Operations. New York: McGraw-Hill, c1999.
TL 799 .M6 L88 1999 Bookstacks

Fogg, Martyn J. Terraforming: Engineering Planetary Environments. Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers, 1995.
TL 795.7 .F64 1995 Bookstacks

Halyard, Raymond J. The Quest for Water Planets: Interstellar Space Colonization in the 21st Century. Show Low, AZ: American Eagle Publications, 1996.
TL 795.7 .H349 1996 Bookstacks

Harris, Philip Robert. Space Enterprise: Living and Working Offworld in the 21st Century. Berlin; New York: Chichester, UK: In association with Praxis Publishing, 2009.
TL 795.7 .H38 2009 Bookstacks

Harrison, Albert A. Spacefaring: The Human Dimension. Berkeley: University of California Press, c2001.
TL 1500 .H37 2001 Bookstacks

Johnson, Richard D. Space Settlements: A Design StudyWashington: Scientific and Technical Information Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1977.
TL 795.7 .S67 1977 Bookstacks

Krone, Robert M. Beyond Earth: The Future of Humans in Space. Burlington, Ontario: Apogee Books, 2006.
TL 795.7 .B49 2006 Bookstacks

Levine, Joel S. The Human Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet. Cambridge, MA: Cosmology Science Publishers, 2010.
QB 641 .H86 2010 Bookstacks

OECD International Futures Programme. Space 2030: Exploring the Future of Space Applications. Paris, France: OECD, 2004.
T 174 .S63 2004 Bookstacks

O’Neill, Gerard K. The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space. Burlington, Ontario: Apogee Books, 2000.
TL 795.7 .O53 2000 Bookstacks

Petranek, Stephen L. How We’ll Live on Mars. New York, NY: TED Books, Simon & Schuster, 2015
TL 795.7 .P48 2015 Bookstacks

Schmitt, Harrison H. Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space. New York, NY: Copernicus Books, in association with Praxis Publishing, 2006
TL 799 .M6 S34 2006 Bookstacks

Schrunk, David G., et al. The Moon: Resources, Future Development, and Settlement. Berlin; New York: Springer; Chichester, UK: Published in association with Praxis Pub., 2008.
QB 582.5 .S37 2008 Bookstacks

Wingo, Dennis. Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon’s Resources. Burlington, Ont.: Apogee Books, 2004.
QB 582.5 .W56 2004 Bookstacks

Zubrin, Robert. The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must. New York: The Free Press, 1996
QB 641 .Z83 1996 Bookstacks

Zubrin, Robert. Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, c1999.
TL 795.7 .Z83 1999 Bookstacks


The e-books listed below are available to the general public through National Academies Press.  (

  • The National Research Council. America’s Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs. 2009
  • National Research Council. Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts. 2009
  • The National Research Council. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA’s Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space. 2012
  • The National Research Council. Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Human Space Exploration. 2014


The expert guide to space colonies –

The future of space colonization – terraforming or space habitats? by Matt Williams, Universe Today –


Currieri, Peter A. “A Minimized Technological Approach towards Human Self Sufficiency off Earth”, in: Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF) Conference, Albuquerque, NM, Feb. 11-15, 2007.

__________. “Optimized O’Neill/Glaser Model for Human Population of Space and its Impact on Survival Probabilities”, in: Earth and Space 2010 Conference, Honolulu, HI, March 14-17, 2010.

__________., and Michael Detweiler. “Habitat Size Optimization of the O’Neill – Glaser Economic Model for Space Solar Satellite Production”, in: Space Manufacturing 14: Critical Technologies for Space Settlement Conference, Mountain View, CA, Oct. 30-31, 2010.

Johnson, Chris. “Inflatable Structures: Test Results and Development Progress Since TransHab”, in: Annual Technical Symposium 2006, Houston, TX, May 19, 2006.

Purves, Lloyd R. “Use of a Lunar Outpost for Developing Space Settlement Technologies”, in: AIAA Space 2008 Conference, San Diego, CA, Sept. 9-11, 2008.

Townsend, Ivan I., et al. “Performance of Regolith Feed Systems for Analog Field Tests of In-Situ Resource Utilization Oxygen Production Plants in Mauna Kea, Hawaii”, in: Proceedings of the 40th Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium, NASA/CP-2010-216272, Cocoa Beach, FL, May 12-14, 2010. (20100021942)

Smitherman, David V., Jr. “Pathways to Colonization”, in: Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF) Conference, Albuquerque, NM, Feb. 2-6, 2003.  (20030062017)



National Space Society – Space Settlement:

The Mars Society:

The Planetary Society: