Space Exploration Initiative

NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI)



Axiom’s Second Flight Paves the Way for a Commercial Space Station

The spaceflight sets the stage for the aging International Space Station’s private successors, and for an influx of paying customers.

MIT News

MIT HUMANS project breaks down borders, empowering global voices to reach for the stars

The HUMANS nanowafer, an MIT Space Exploration Initiative student-led project, will travel to the ISS this month, and later to the moon, carrying messages in more than 64 languages from over 80 countries.

The Architecture of Contemplation

In Conversation With: Ariel Ekblaw

Topics covered include Ariel's PhD thesis which is now being tested in lower earth orbit, the space commons, biomimicry in space design, being a generative thinker and much more.

'The Session' with Tom Swarbrick

The People Who Will Change The World: Ariel Ekblaw of the Aurelia Institute

As part of his LBC show, Tom Swarbrick speaks to The People Who Will Change The World, those who are revolutionising the way we live and creating a better future for the human race. In the fourth of this series, Tom speaks Ariel Ekblaw, Director of the Aurelia Institute, a team of researchers and designers preparing humanity to become a thriving spacefaring species.

The Q Factor


If you're running out of earthly investment ideas, perhaps you're simply not aiming high enough. Look to the Low Earth Orbit, says Dr. Ariel Ekblaw, Founder and CEO of the Aurelia Institute, and one of the most brilliant young thinkers we've ever had on THE Q FACTOR. Ekblaw joins host Gregg Fisher for a mindblowing conversation about the extraordinary steps being taken to transform humanity into a "spacefaring species."


Designing a New Space Age

Topics discussed in the podcast range from geodesic dome habitats and microgravity concert halls to space cathedrals and a real-life Starfleet Academy. Ariel Ekblaw has been thinking about these topics for a long time and leads teams that are actively prototyping them. Ultimately, her north star is preparing humanity to become a thriving space-faring species. 


Ariel Ekblaw Wants To Go to Space So We Can Save Earth

The 30-year-old founder of MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative is engineering small wonders with a big goal: making sure Earth remains our home.


Cosmic Queries – Building Space Civilizations with Ariel Ekblaw

When will we create a livable habitat in space? Neil deGrasse Tyson and comedian Matt Kirshen explore the possibilities of tessellated space structures, artificial gravity, and other challenges of space living with Founder of MIT Space Exploration Initiative and Aurelia Institute CEO, Ariel Ekblaw.


Why are we sending a plastic-eating enzyme to space?

In an interdisciplinary collaboration, a group of scientists from MIT Media Lab, NREL, Seed Health and others, bioengineered a plastic-eating bacteria to be able to upcycle plastics. Mashable met with some of them to find out how the bacteria works, why it was it was sent to space, and how it can help humanity tackle plastic pollution in space as well as on Earth.

The Washington Post

This small box could be the future of building in outer space

Astronauts for decades have faced challenges building things in space. Now, researchers are trying to change that. Backed by MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative, astronauts on board the International Space Station on Friday completed a roughly 45-day experiment using a small microwave-sized box that injects resin into silicone skins to build parts, such as nuts and bolts.


How To Academy

Found In Conversation: Space

As NASA prepares to return to the moon, entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos inspire a new generation with breath-taking space technologies and promises to make us a multi-planet species. But will space continue to inspire wonder in humanity for generations to come, or will the conquest of the cosmos transport our worst tendencies to the stars? Joining us for our journey into space are Ariel Ekblaw, Founder and Director of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative, and author of Into the Anthropocosmos; Alan Lightman, novelist, essayist, and the first joint professor in literature and astrophysics, also at MIT, and Luciano Diana, Equity Partner of the Pictet Group. Giorgio Cremonesi, Head of Global Marketing Solutions for Pictet Wealth Management, moderates.


MIT Will Return To The Moon For The First Time Since Apollo, Thanks To This Space Startup

It’s been half a century since MIT had technology on the Moon’s surface, but that’s about to change. The university will be hitching a ride with space technology company Lunar Outpost during its summer 2023 mission near the Lunar South Pole. The Colorado-based company plans to collect and sell moon rocks to NASA as a part of their Artemis mission under a contract worth a whopping… $1.


Envisioning Home in Space

Fast Company

This Company is Sending Plastic Eating Enzymes Into Space

SeedLab’s experiment with MIT Space Exploration Initiative will test how enzymes can break down plastic, and then how bacteria can turn it into a new material--all while in orbit on a 45 day mission on the International Space Station.


Cutting-edge Experiments Ride SpaceX's 26th CRS Mission to Space Station

SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply mission (CRS) is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in late November. The Dragon spacecraft carries scientific experiments and technology demonstrations that explore growing plants in space, creating nutrients on-demand, in-space construction, and more.

Fast Company

Ariel Ekblaw explains the future of space stations

We’ve been planning ways to sustain human life in orbit and on other planets for decades. Now, it feels like we’re within reach of that goal—and we need to be ready for it. Ekblaw sat down to discuss accessibility needs for human spaceflight, technology demonstrations aboard the ISS, and drawing inspiration from real life and science fiction for future space stations. 


MIT Media Lab trials modular tiles that self-assemble into "entirely novel type of space architecture"

Researchers at MIT Media Lab have tested modular tiles that autonomously assemble to create habitats in space on the latest mission to the International Space Station. Called Tesserae, the project aims to create future space habitats from reconfigurable tiles that assemble while in orbit around the moon or Earth.

Translational Research Institute for Space Health ("TRISH")

Documentary: surviving in the final frontier

The ongoing challenge to keep astronauts healthy in the extreme space environment drives innovations that benefit humans in space and on Earth. Showcasing frank discussions with scientists, flight surgeons, astronauts, and scientific leaders, and with NASA archival videos and images, this documentary informs viewers about the solutions that will enable humans to survive and thrive in the final frontier.

NASA Kennedy Space Center


April 2022 brought two crewed launches to Kennedy Space Center. Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 launched April 8, 2022. The mission sent the first-ever all-private crew to the International Space Station. There, the crew conducted scientific research and investigations aboard the ISS.

PR Newswire

Axiom-1 Mission to the International Space Station Successfully Completed - Marks Major Step Toward Commercialization of Low Earth Orbit

During their mission on the space station, the Ax-1 astronauts conducted dozens of research experiments, including more than 25 investigations sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, such as demonstrations of TESSERAE's self-assembling space architecture, which could be used to build structures in orbit. Ax-1 astronauts studied TESSERAE's orbiting modules to assess the feasibility of in-orbit construction of satellites and future space habitats, including space hotels, to support the coming waves of space tourists.


The SpaceX Ax-1 Mission Has Futuristic Self-Assembling Tech to Try Out

Paying visitors to the ISS will be performing an experiment with robotic swarms that might someday build future space stations.

Axiom Space

Ax-1 crew returns safely to Earth, successfully completing first all-private astronaut mission to ISS

The crew completed more than 25 research investigations, including Axiom Space-managed experiments like the TESSERAE prototype, a self-assembling space habitat, and the JAMSS air purification demonstration. 

Axiom Space


TESSERAE (Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments) is a multi-year research program exploring self-assembly methods for in-space construction.


Commercial Research Expands Aboard the International Space Station

Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission to the space station, Axiom Mission 1 or Ax-1, is targeted to launch Friday, April 8, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  During their eight days aboard the orbiting laboratory, the crew will conduct many Ax-1-specific experiments, including TESSERAE Ax-1.

"Where's My Jetpack?" Podcast Series

Episode 10: "Where's My... New Planetary Home?"

Sarah and Luke return for the final episode of the series, as we search for a home beyond Earth.
Life on other planets has been a staple of science fiction lore for decades, but overcoming the astronomical barriers involved might prevent it ever becoming science fact. So, what does the future of our species look like? 

Lex Fridman Podcast

Episode 271: Space Colonization and Exploration

Ariel Ekblaw joins host and MIT AI researcher Lex Fridman in a deep discussion of space habitats and cities, music, sports, and robots in space, and the future of space exploration, among other topics.

Yahoo! News

Space tourism: the arguments in favor

To its many detractors, space tourism amounts to nothing more than joy-rides for the global super rich that will worsen the planet's climate crisis. But the nascent sector also has supporters, who, while not rejecting the criticism outright, argue the industry can bring humanity benefits too.

NBC News

To cheaply go: How falling launch costs fueled a thriving economy in orbit

Companies that once had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to put a satellite into orbit can now do the same for a fraction of that price.

SpaceX private Ax-1 mission's science includes self-assembling robots and light-powered air filters

Axiom Space's first mission plans a hefty science agenda during eight days on the International Space Station.

MIT News

Robotic cubes shapeshift in outer space

Self-reconfiguring ElectroVoxels use embedded electromagnets to test applications for space exploration.


Axiom's Private ISS Mission Was No Space Vacation

In an era where anyone with deep enough pockets can hitch a ride to the edge of space and back, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Axiom’s Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station was little more than a pleasure cruise for the four crew members.


The SpaceX Ax-1 Mission Has Futuristic Self-Assembling Tech to Try Out

Paying visitors to the ISS will be performing an experiment with robotic swarms that might someday build future space stations.


MIT TESSERAE Project: Building Beautiful Architecture in Space

The TESSERAE project, a design for self-assembling space structures and habitats, has sent prototypes to the International Space Station.


The Chautauquan Daily

‘Living’ Space as the Newest Frontier

MIT’s Ariel Ekblaw to focus on self-assembling space architecture and habitats in CLS.


2021 Was the Year Space Tourism Opened Up. But for Whom?

SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic finally made commercial spaceflight possible. Now there are questions about the purpose of these exclusive trips.

How To Academy

Inventing Humanity’s Interplanetary Future

As the Founder and Director of MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative, Ariel Ekblaw is transforming our sci-fi dreams into the real future of humanity. Her community of grad students, faculty, and staff have a pioneering mission: to prototype and deploy the artefacts of our interplanetary future while democratising access to space. Star Trek promised us that the galaxy would be filled with extraordinary wonders – Ariel joins How To Academy to tell us how she is taking us there.

The Planetary Society's Planetary Radio Podcast

Into the Anthropocosmos with Ariel Ekblaw

Ariel Ekblaw and her Space Exploration Initiative colleagues believe we are at the cusp of interplanetary civilization. They are building the tools, environments and knowledge that will speed the transition and solve problems on Earth. Ariel has published Into the Anthropocosmos, a beautiful celebration of SEI’s fifth anniversary that presents many of its innovative projects.

The New York Times

A Future for People With Disabilities in Outer Space Takes Flight

People with different types of disabilities tested their skills and technologies on a zero-gravity research flight with the goal of proving that they can safely go to space.

MIT News

Life in space: Preparing for an increasingly tangible reality

The Space Exploration Initiative supports research across and beyond MIT in two microgravity flights this spring.

Boston 7 News

MIT researchers involved with Blue Origin launch celebrate milestone

Ariel Ekblaw, founder and director of MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative, discusses the future of commercial spaceflight: “As the economy grows around space exploration,” she says, “it will become more accessible and prices will drop, and that will become a huge success for everyone involved.”

Yahoo Finance

Space industry will need artists, designers, lawyers: MIT Space Exploration Initiative director

“For all the richness of human life on earth, we will want the same diversity of roles. We’ll want the rich tapestry of what makes life so special on Earth to also be designed for in space.” 

Autodesk: The New Possible Podcast

MIT Space Exploration Initiative Designs Everyday Life in Space

What will our homes look like? What types of instruments can we play? How will we maintain an emotional connection to Earth? Listen to SEI Director, Ariel Ekblaw, and SEI designer and engineering extraordinaire, Che-Wei Wang, in dialog with the Autodesk team on designing, fabricating, and launching objects for life in space. Special feature on the Zenolith project. 


A New Space Age: the Future of the AnthropoCosmos | Ariel Ekblaw | Wondros Podcast Ep 68

Jesse Dylan and and Priscilla Cohen talk with @ariel_ekblaw, Founder and Director of @ExploreSpace_ML, about how to make a better, democratic future human civilization in space. 

Logistics Innovation 

Video Conference with MIT and Fraunhofer-IML Researchers

Weightlessness opens up new possibilities for self-controlling systems and in-space structures.  Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Fraunhofer IML at TU Dortmund have collaborated on a technology platform that is opening up new potential - and has successfully completed initial tests on the ISS. Special feature on the TESSERAE project. 

The Tech

What’s it like to design a meal that floats?

Taking a taste of the sensory research of Space Exploration Initiative’s Maggie Coblentz, who believes that by designing novel space food rituals, astronauts will not just be able to survive in space, but thrive there as well. 

De Zeen

Neri Oxman's Synthetic Apiary II shows how beehive construction "is a responsive and dynamic process"

Through studying the bees and their honeycomb structure creations, researchers are able to gather insights into how designed environments might be used in human architecture and design.

Bloomberg: Baystate Business

Baystate Business: Space Travel (Radio)

Dr. Ariel Ekblaw, founder and director of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative, on the significance of the flight.

El Paso Inc.

El Paso Bees Fly to Space for Science


MIT News

Five MIT Payloads Deployed on the International Space Station

A cohort of transdisciplinary researchers will study the effects of sustained microgravity.

The Wall Street Journal

How to Build a Home on the Moon

A small-scale replica of a lunar habitat is taking shape at Purdue University. The goal is to prepare for life in a hostile environment—including our own.

Ars Electronica 

Sojourner 2020 Artist Conversation 

Sojourner2020, the first international art open call that took a trip to International Space Station this March. 

WIRED (cover story)

Algae Caviar, Anyone? What We'll Eat on the Journey to Mars 
Humans are headed for the cosmos, and we’re taking our appetites with us. What will fill the void when we leave Earth behind? Featuring SEI's Maggie Coblentz on her work in space food and interplanetary gastronomy. 

BBC The Real Story

The Privatization of Space Travel
On the cusp of SpaceX's historic 2020 launch, bringing crewed launches back to the U.S., how is corporate capital changing our journey into the cosmos? SEI Director, Ariel Ekblaw, joins Charles Bolden, Dr. Jill Stuart, and John Logsdon to discuss the next decade of human spaceflight. 

WBUR On Point

How Private Companies Are Changing The Future Of Space Exploration 
SEI Director, Ariel Ekblaw, joins Charles Bolden, former NASA Administrator, to consider the future of human space exploration. 

Chemical Kitchen

GastroGeeks: Interplanetary gastronomy

GastroGeeks discusses questions about space food, gastronomy and science with SEI's researcher Maggie Coblentz. 


Boston HubWeek 

What we learned at HubWeek: Space tourism might be closer than you think

MIT scientists are working on technology that could serve as the foundation for tourist hotels — in outer space.


Space pianos and upside-down shoes: innovations for life in space

Hairstyles, musical instruments and gardening all change in zero gravity, Sands Fish says. 


Beyond Earth series
SEI Director, Ariel Ekblaw, discusses habitats for Earth, Moon, and Mars alongside Bjarke Ingels, Lucianne Walkowicz, and Lisa Messeri. 


Space Exploration and the Age of the Anthropocosmos
The new generation of space architects can learn from our successes and failures in protecting the internet commons and build a better paradigm for space, writes Media Lab Director, Joi Ito.


The design secrets Nasa's using to keep astronauts happy in space
Big windows, fresh fruit and regular phone calls home help manage the mental health of astronauts on the International Space Station. But missions to Mars on beyond will require a whole new approach to how spaceships are designed. The Space Exploration Initiative's Maggie Coblentz weighs in on the future of space food. 

The Wall Street Journal

Space Is Poised for Explosive Growth. Let’s Get It Right.

Before low-earth orbit is clogged with hotels, satellite traffic and debris, we should plan for the extra-planetary community we want, writes Ariel Ekblaw, founder of the MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative.

How a Robotic Tail Could Help Future Space Travelers & The Zero-Gravity Orchestra

Researchers, Valentina Sumini and Manuel Muccillo, at the MIT Media Lab are developing technology for a day when amateur astronauts travel into orbit.

Nicole L’Huillier and Sands Fish are building a zero-gravity orchestra—a series of instruments that are designed to be performed exclusively in the absence of gravity.


The architect designing self-assembling habitats for space

Tomorrow’s space explorers won’t be able to pack traditional, heavy building materials for their missions. One young designer, Space Exploration Initiative Director Ariel Ekblaw,  is already working on habitats that will build themselves.

The Future's Coming: Why we need to prepare for Sci Fi Tomorrows Today

Coverage of Beyond the Cradle 2019.

National Geographic

Beyond the Cradle featured nationwide through National Geographic online feature.

MIT News

Designing humanity’s future in space
The Space Exploration Initiative’s latest parabolic research flight explores work and play in microgravity.

Six suborbital research payloads from MIT fly to space and back

Space Exploration Initiative research aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard experiment capsule crossed the Karman line for three minutes of sustained microgravity.

MIT, Blue Origin to cooperate on sending research experiment to the moon

MIT community input [including Space Exploration Initiative payload designs] will help determine the focus of the study to be carried aboard Blue Moon lander.


Motherboard Vice

The ‘Telemetron’ Is a Post-Earth Musical Instrument Designed for Zero Gravity

The Telemetron generates musical compositions using gyroscopic “chimes.”

MIT’s ‘Orbit Weaver’ Turns Astronauts into Spiders

Moving around in microgravity is tough, but a new MIT Media Lab device takes a page from Spiderman to help astronauts navigate while weightless.

Discovery Channel Daily Planet

Spatial Flux: Body and architecture in space

This prototype explores surfaces utilizing materials that would normally fail on Earth, yet flourish in zero gravity.

Ars Technica

“Life, uh, finds a way”—Applying lessons from evolution to go to Mars

Biomimicry looks to living organisms to create the future of sustainable engineering, as Ariel Ekblaw discusses her bio-inspired TESSERAE space habitat.

MIT News

Prototypes for the new space age

The Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative shares results and next steps from its first zero gravity research mission.


PLACES Journal 

Surface to Unlimited

A visit to Spaceport America, where the coming of the Second Space Age is already history, and the announcement of the MIT Media Lab's Space Exploration Initiative. 

MIT News

Media Lab sets sights on space

MIT Media Lab event, Beyond the Cradle, launches a new initiative to explore the final frontier.