As one who has frequently lived in isolation, in 2013 on a remote ranch in Colorado six weeks without seeing another human, and now in a wilderness abode with the closest neighbor a quarter mile away, the nearest town more than thirty, I recognize that my situation is the opposite from those living in isolation in the city.
This disparity causes me to wonder, Would be more difficult to venture to Mars with crew mates, or totally alone? Living in a highly confined space for more than a half year is certainly one of humanity’s greatest challenges, while the practices of living alone, solo trekking, and meditation retreats are celebrated as a means to elevate the human experience.
Do we also celebrate interpersonal caring, space sharing, and communication in such a way as to uphold those who have “survived” group dynamics in close proximity for extended periods of time? Are there monks who practice daily banter rather than go months without speaking?
Perhaps the original Biosphere 2 was just such an experiment, in the end. Many lessons learned. Surely, every Apollo mission had stories to tell as does every U.S. Navy submarine captain.
In this home-bound arena many people are learning what it means to share a small space with others, or how to go it alone. What we can learn from this experience as we design and construct prototypes for off-world habitation? How can our space program benefit from what are now learning? What does personal space mean, when space is already limited? How can we train individuals to communicate in such a way as to uphold the communal space and respect personal space too? How do you assure astronauts will come out the other end of a long journey bound by the mission objectives and also bound by something even more powerful, friendship for a lifetime? And is over militar training the only way? How does architecture support or undermine interpersonal relationships?
Questions without immediate answers … we will see.