It seems like the biggest problem people have with understanding why I am designing the things I am, is because they haven't grasped the overall progressive idea that the complete mission is set out to achieve. The reason to venture into the asteroid belt and colonize has really very little to do with exploration or discovery. That is inevitable. This is about starting a self sustaining insurance policy by both becoming an interplanetary species, but also setting up the resources to be able to make space travel cheaper.
This design was focused around the idea of a ship that is launched or built in orbit and has one way fuel to reach the asteroid belt. Once there, it will target an asteroid (one that was previously identified from the drones). As it approaches it would have to both latch and mine the asteroid, which would in turn produce fuel to reach the resource station. Once there it would drop off extra propellant and remaining asteroids to harvest.
My first thought in the design was actually nothing to do with inspirations or any crazy ideas. My first goal was to understand first the process in which I could take an asteroid and make it into fuel. I think in architecture especially, often we get caught up in our own personal, poetic ways of designing. We often forget to consider how things actually work and function.
I pretty much modeled the guts of this thing first, just to get an idea of what this thing had to do. and then worked backwards. This is actually a little bit different when compared to how I usually do things. The "think through" stage is often one of the last things I do. But I used this to my advantage, because it dictated some things for me to begin with.
Next, I looked at what we typically had to reference for a space barge. They are often clunky and huge. Most importantly I noticed that current latching involved approaching it head on, and then pushing it. I began to consider how we could get more of a view to be able to steer the asteroid, without doing so blindly. I began to consider how this thing might hinge to be able to allow for easier maneuvering once the craft was latched on.
I knew this thing would need some type of structural element, both solid body and framing elements. I chose to explore a few different things over top of my original "guts". I looked at raptors, T-rex, cheetahs, and Siberian Tiger skeletons as rough framing diagrams. After I laid these over, I tried to pull out the aesthetics of how they look and still considering structurally what they were doing. Finally I changed them to adapt the space craft as best I could, while trying to maintain the essence of both the craft and the inspiration for the structure.
I started to consider the body as a component, shielding some of the otherwise exposed components, as well as a rigid frame that would link the components to the cockpit and living space. More importantly though the integration between the rib like elements that would provide both structural integrity, but also structure to grip during maintenance and space walks.
By the time this thing was said and done, mind you this was probably about a 10 hour total process, not counting the final painting that I have to still do, this thing took on a whole new life of its own, almost literally. Looking at the section showing the internal workings, the drawing has a very eerie dissection and lifelike quality to it. It appear more like an anatomical drawing rather than that of a machine. I presume the future of space design will have this more organic lifelike quality imbued into the designs.