What brought you into this field?
I was inspired by the Apollo mission, when I had just arrived in Houston from Argentina two weeks before the first human landing on the moon. From that moment on, I wanted to be part of the space migration of humans.
What does your office look like on a normal day?
Our studio is a relatively small environment where we constantly work at solving problems through design, with tools such as computers, scale models and drawings. Someone could be working on a model of a spacesuit helmet next to another designer working on a bamboo structure for a roof on a remote island in the Caribbean.
Is design an inherent part of nature, or do we create it solely through intellect? Does design give rise to necessity?
We constantly look at nature for inspiration in our designs. If there is a need, there is a design. And natural designs generally are the most efficient.
Why haven’t we been able to replicate the moon landing with a manned Mars mission? Do you think we need a Cold War-era competitive spirit again to attain the critical mass?
Competition is always good. The main reason we haven’t sent a human back to the moon and the reason we haven’t pursued human exploration of Mars is because there is no public will. We already have all the technical know how to go to the moon, and we could solve the open issues that remain to go to Mars if only the wish was really there.
Besides external devices like spacesuits, do you think certain esoteric methods like meditation could help too?
As a practitioner of meditation for the past 30 years, I’m a strong believer in using it as a tool for long-duration space missions. I have also advocated building a base on the Antarctic as an analog to a space base to learn about humans living in isolation.
Interviewed by Shone Satheesh Babu
Shone Satheesh Babu is an Assistant Copy Editor with Tehelka.