Today’s episode takes us from geodesic dome habitats and space cathedrals to self-assembling orbital structures and creating a real-life Starfleet Academy. Our guest, Ariel Ekblaw, has been thinking about these topics for a long time, and she leads a number of initiatives focused on preparing us to become a thriving space-faring species. Pathfinder #0034 is brought to you by Kepler Communications, which is bringing the internet to space.
Let’s talk about geodesic dome habitats, concert halls in microgravity, space cathedrals, and a real-life Starfleet Academy. Our guest, Ariel Ekblaw, has been thinking about these topics and actively prototyping these ideas for a long time. Ultimately, she leads a number of initiatives focused on preparing humanity to become a thriving space-faring species.
Bio in brief: Ariel is director of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative (SEI), as well as the cofounder and CEO of the Aurelia Institute. Situated within the MIT Media Lab, SEI supports 40+ research projects and includes a team of 50+ students, staff, and faculty.
As for the Aurelia Institute, which is Ariel’s quote-unquote “new thing”…well, it’s a nonprofit space architecture R&D lab, education & outreach center, and policy hub. Ariel tells Ryan a bit more about what the institute has cooking for 2023.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Kepler Communications, a new sponsor. Kepler is bringing the internet to space, and developing the infrastructure to support out-of-this-world communications. Find out more at https://kepler.space/
00:00 Pathfinder’s new music
02:13 Welcome, Ariel
04:58 Media Lab’s mission
05:59 MIT Space Exploration Initiative
08:37 Engineers, artists, and scientists working together
10:39 Parabolic, suborbital, and orbital flights
11:44 What sci-fi works does Ariel draw inspiration from?
14:18 Taking an idea from conception to launch
17:26 The Aurelia Institute’s three main pillars
20:40 TESSERAE + self-assembling space architecture
24:27 New technology that pairs nicely with TESSERAE
27:30 Swarm technology
31:00 How would you use Starship or another next-generation launcher?
32:24 Anthropomorphic technology for space
35:56 The AI Age + space
41:34 Democratization…“Let’s take back the [redacted] word”…and expanding accessibility in space
44:37 The gateway drug to space exploration
49:21 Advice for young listeners looking to make a dent in the universe