‘Living’ space as the newest frontier: MIT’s Ariel Ekblaw to focus on self-assembling space architecture and habitats in CLS

By Annalee Hubbs

Ariel Ekblaw doesn’t know yet if space is the final frontier — there’s still much unknown about the universe. But she does know that at this time, space is one absolutely compelling and captivating frontier to explore … and inhabit. 

Ekblaw is the director of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative, a research group of 10 people that serves a community of 50-plus graduate students, faculty and staff. Founded in 2016, the Initiative works on prototyping the artifacts for the future of life in space: architecture, food, health, wearables (space suits) — all things for the interior life of a future space tourist or astronaut.

Ekblaw’s research focuses on space architecture and designing habitats (closed volumes that people live in) that self-assemble in space. Her doctoral degree at MIT focused on that self-assembling space architecture, called TESSERAE, which can be thought of as Legos that snap themselves together in orbit. 

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