Human outpost

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Human outposts[1][2][3][4] are artificially-created, controlled human habitats located in environments inhospitable for humans, such as on the ocean floor, in the Antarctic, in space, or on another planet.

The logistics and difficulties inherent in such ventures have been heavily explored in science fiction.

Outposts by environment[edit]


Polar research stations have been built and advanced by many states and for many purposes. For more see the articles about research stations in Antarctica and Arctic drifting ice stations.

Under sea[edit]

NASA trains astronauts in an underwater habitat, to simulate living and working in the International Space Station. They conduct scientific research on the human body and coral reefs, and build undersea structures to simulate space station assembly spacewalk tasks. The program is also being used to study how isolation affects human behaviour, to prepare for the first human outposts on the Moon and Mars.[5][6]

Outer space[edit]

The Salyut 1 space station in low Earth orbit was the first human outpost in space. The only current human outpost in space is the International Space Station, after China de-orbited its Tiangong-2 in 2019.

NanoRacks, after finalizing its contract with NASA, and after winning NextSTEPs Phase II award, is now developing its concept Independence-1 (previously known as Ixion), the first 'outpost' in NanoRacks' Space Outpost Program, which would turn spent rocket tanks into a habitable living area, often known as a wet workshop.

Planning and design for Lunar[2][7] and Martian outposts is underway.[4]

In fiction[edit]

Human outposts in other worlds are a common motif in science fiction, whether established and occupied solely by humans or in cooperation – or competition – with alien species. The setting may be another planet, Earth-like or otherwise; or a spaceship large enough to house a city.

Similar concepts[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Frontier – Political and geographical area near or beyond a boundary
  • Frontier thesis – Frederick Jackson Turner's argument that American democracy was built by the American frontier
  • Border – Geographic boundaries of political entity
  • No-go area – Area where authorities are unable to enforce law or sovereignty
  • Terra nullius – International law term meaning territory that has never been the subject of a sovereign nation
  • No-mans land
  • Exile – Event by which a person is forced away from home


  1. ^ 'Trash Can' Nuclear Reactors Could Power Human Outpost On Moon Or Mars; Oct. 4, 2009; ScienceDaily
  2. ^ a b David, Leonard (4 March 2004). "NASA goes lunar: Robot craft, human outpost plans". USA Today.
  3. ^ Ice, mineral-rich soil could support human outpost on Mars; by Sharon Gaudin; 27 June 2008; IDG News Service
  4. ^ a b Resource Utilization Concepts for MoonMars; ByIris Fleischer, Olivia Haider, Morten W. Hansen, Robert Peckyno, Daniel Rosenberg and Robert E. Guinness; 30 September 2003; IAC Bremen, 2003 (29 Sept – 03 Oct 2003) and MoonMars Workshop (26-28 Sept 2003, Bremen). Accessed on 18 January 2010
  5. ^ Astronaut Leads Aquanauts On Aquarius Undersea Mission; June 17, 2003; ScienceDaily. Also see [1]
  6. ^ In Undersea Habitat, Aquanauts Learn About Teamwork And Task Performance For The Moon And Mars; May 9, 2006; ScienceDaily
  7. ^ Small Robots Can Prepare Lunar Surface For NASA Outpost; Mar. 2, 2009; ScienceDaily

Further reading[edit]