While this is no new stuff, Japanese news site GIGAZINE dug out concept arts of space colonies that were from NASA Ames back in the 1970s. It is interesting to see how they reflect on those that were first seen in Mobile Suit Gundam, and later also to other series to this very day.
First type is the O'Neill cylinder or Island Three, which is a cylinderal shape space colony.
This is the form that is most seen in the Gundam metaseries, with distinguishable rotating cylinders and huge solar panels to support inhabitants inside. One can easily see how the designs were taken into use for various series.
Examples are shown below:
Space colonies in Universal Century era from Mobile Suit Gundam
Heliopolis in Cosmic Era from Gundam SEED
Industrial 7 lineart in Universal Century 0096 from Gundam UC OVA, as seen in an older post
Second Type is the Sanford torus, which bears a doughnut shape.
In the concept arts there is the rotating space colony itself and a large solar mirror, where the latter reflects the needed sunlight to the angled mirrors in colony for power.
While not as common as those of O'Neill cylinder, this version is also seen in some Gundam series:
Laplace in Unversial Century 0001, as seen in the beginning of Gundam UC OVA.
Space colonies in After Colony era from Gundam Wing
And finally there is the Bernal sphere. which is a little like a Hollow Earth.
Despite being the oldest proposed designs for a space colony (way back in 1929!), this form is hardly ever seen in the Gundam metaseries. I can only think of one at the moment:
"Quanqiu" (全球, literally meaning "global") in Anno Domini from Gundam 00
The concept arts were also mentioned by Gundam Guy.
It's informative to see how much influence the space colony designs had on those in Gundam metaseries, and this was a time when the space race between USA and the then Soviet Union were still ongoing (but perhaps also starting to approach its end at the same time). While there are some designs that were not directly from any of the 3 above (such as PLANT from Gundam SEED), one can see the details put in to make them seem authentic if it were to happen in distant future of mankind :o
Colony concept arts from NASA
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