Constance Adams, an architect who has given up designing skyscrapers to develop structures that would help travelers to live on the International Space Station, Mars or the Moon with adequate comfort, died Monday in their home in Houston. She was 53 years old.
MaryScott Hagle, a friend and guardian of Ms. Adams' daughters, said the cause was colon cancer. Adams interviewed for an architectural job in Houston in 1996 while touring NASA's Johnson Space Center. The tour aroused her curiosity and led to two decades of work challenging her to create living facilities for people in the scarce environment of space.
Working with Kriss Kennedy, a NASA space architect, helped design the TransHab (Transit Habitat), a three-stage dinghy. The module, which was attached to the outside of the space station, had the cramped quarters, in which astronauts had lived and worked since the ship's first occupation in It would also have been used on a Mars mission.
An original size TransHab prototype was built, but the project never received the government funding needed to launch it into space.
"The base station's base module is absolutely the most formidable engineering project ever undertaken," Ms. Adams told The New York Times in 2002. "But to live here, it's a shotgun shack."
You "You do not want to run laboratory experiments next to someone on a treadmill, remember that sweat drifts in weightlessness, it's disgusting."
The prototype included 12,000 cubic meters of living space, common areas, a galley, infirmary, and labor and exercise areas, all protected by dense, bullet-proof Kevlar fabric. Adams' role focused on the human and performance aspects of interior design.
"She was very persistent and determined," said Mr. Kennedy, who had recently resigned from NASA, in a telephone interview. "She was a strong, independent thinker who did not shy away from sharing her thoughts and views and advocating for what she saw fit."
Marc M. Cohen, another former NASA space architect, added in an interview, "It has transformed the concept of a dinghy – essentially a flat tire – into a viable interior structure."
Although TransHab never got into space, Ms. Adams claimed that the design and tests of it were successful.
"Their formal goal was simply to prove the virtues and viability of the inflatable option," told the website HobbySpace 2003.
(A smaller version of TransHab has come to life.) A private firm, Bigelow Aerospace, licensed the technology from NASA and attached its expandable activity module to the space station in 2016. It is not used as a living space, but to store cargo.)
Constance Marguerite Adams was born in Boston on July 16, 1964. Her father, Jeremy, was a professor of medieval history at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; Her mother, Madeleine de Jean, is a writer and champagne expert. The young Constance often traveled with her parents to Europe and after her divorce in the 1970s with her father and stepmother Bonnie Wheeler, a professor of medieval studies at the University of St. Moritz.
Ms. Adams completed her bachelor's degree in social sciences from Harvard and wrote her thesis on Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect of Modernism. After completing a Master in Architecture at Yale, she worked with architect César Pelli. Afterwards she worked in Japan for the architecture office Kenzo Tange and in Germany for the company Josef Paul Kleihues.
"I was originally into architecture because there are so many different things to do – complex interactions of systems," she told girls last year at an event sponsored by Microsoft and National Geographic To encourage science and math. "I knew that if I did that, I would never be bored."
When business in Germany abated, where she had worked on master plans, she returned to the United States. After touring NASA, she left her resume; The agency joined her with Lockheed Martin, who hired her and brought her to NASA as a consultant. Her first project was the Bio-Plex, a surface-space prototype that could support six people on Mars.
In her spatial work – by Lockheed Martin; Futron, another contractor; and Synthesis International, a consulting firm founded in the 1990s – Ms. Adams was also involved in the design of the NASA X-38 crew recovery vehicle and its orbital space level. And she discussed the design of Spaceport America, which was built in New Mexico by the spaceflight Virgin Galactic.
Last year, she worked with a group of Ikea designers who spotted space-saving solutions for their facilities in their simulated Mars habitat at the Mars Desert Research Center near Hanksville, Utah.
"The things we assume are a constant, like gravity, change in these environments," Ms. Adams told Wired Magazine. "The only thing that stays the same is man."
wife. Adams leaves behind her daughters Mathilde Adams and Valerie Wehring, as well as her mother and stepmother. Her marriage to Charles Wehring Jr. ended in divorce. Her father died in 2016.
Wife. Adams was impressed by what NASA had achieved with the manned space programs Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, and she hoped for the future, as her personal motto shows: "Originally from Mars, just to get home."
But she was concerned about budget cuts that led to the elimination of TransHab and the demise of NASA's once formidable ambitions.
"No nation in Earth's history has failed to carry out major projects and remain meaningful," she said in a 2011 TEDx Talk.
"What's our sputnik moment?" She added, referring This was the Soviet Union's satellite launch in 1957, which accelerated the United States Space Program. What will we do next? "
She added," We'll never get to Mars like this. "