Martina Taranto
• Samantha Cristoforetti, Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency, in 2015. Photo: ESA / NASA


Tackling one of the most extreme and challenging environments: Space. Informed by the European Space Agency, NASA and National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). What are the challenges of the astronauts today? How to design and what in view of a successful 5 years mission to Mars?

Looking at human disconnection in a space environment, we designed a tactile object for beings that are far apart.

Our project is a response to the negligence of human physical needs, sexuality included and the mental effects consequential to the lack of it.

In collaboration with:
Kenny Arnold - Tin-ya Huang - Felix Isidorsson

The current paradigm is an incomplete picture. We are viewed as tools and object to do tasks. Astronauts are seen as a means to an end.

We chose to look at what it means to be human in space.

The context of this project is the astronaut’s relationship to his/her psyco-social network and how the long distance impacts psychological health.

Sexuality is part of what makes beings what they are. Therefore we need to look at the whole being, including the sexual and the psychological aspects. Sexuality is what keeps our species going. It’s fundamental to who we are.

There is a great need to create means to acknowledge intimacy and sexuality as part of a ‘stellar beings’ mental and physical health.

In the near future space travels will be longer and even more psychologically challenging.

Sexuality and human connection has been seen as something that have a possibility to jeopardize a mission.
To consider an astronaut without sexuality is not seeing humans from a complete picture.

• Prototypes and 3D model simulation of the object on a human arm.

• User testing on different people in different conditions, using different tactile textures.

• Different textures used to test different tactile esperiences.

The functional process of our tool does not solely belong in space.

Mental preparation for a stellar trip starts on earth with the use of tactile massage together with the partner. With the use of tactile massage, it’s possible to condition the positive hormonal impact of being physical with someone getting the same positive output while apart. This create a counter-measure that will enable a being - terrestrial or stellar - to endure long periods in the mental state of loneliness.

What is a stellar being?

A stellar being is an improved human being.

Stellar Being from Felix Isidorsson on Vimeo.


1) A stellar being is an inspired and inspiring human being.

Because he/she is of inspiration for others he/she is a social being, devoted to his/her community, an individual with pluralistic views and will of intents.

2) The stellar being is not an altered human being, he/she is an evolved one.

Consistently with a scientific evolutionistic approach the stellar being recognised the importance of adaptation in a diverse and new environment. He/she will willingly give up any attempt to reproduce or imitate any terrestrial lifestyle or behaviour as he/she knows that by doing so he/she would contradict his/her own existence.

The stellar being, in fact, is defined as such because he/she is not affected by any restriction of space or time. He/she conceives everything from a holistic point of view. In fact, the stellar being brings within him/herself a complex cultural/ethical genome which is a coherent coexistence of positive, not destructive Cultural/Ethical/Behavioural principles. This is the major stellar mutation.

3) A stellar being is an open-minded being.

4) A stellar being is aware of the social and technological impact of his/her work and of the

responsibilities linked to his/her journey. For the sake of a relevant outcome he/she will

experience and consciously embrace environmental, cultural, and emotional changes along with the psychological and physical challenges he/she will have to face.

5) Even though he/she has to adapt to a new perspective of life, the stellar-being will never give up on his/her human nature!

Consciousness of terrestrial origins. The stellar being is fully aware that his/her body-structure is not designed for space travel and he/she embrace this fact and all the consequences consciously. He/she recognises the importance of his/her terrestrial historical/intellectual/emotional background and acknowledge that this is the only true starting point for a successful evolutionistic journey in space.

Gender based differences. A stellar being has gender, sexual inclination and romantic aspirations. It’s a stellar being right to recognise and embrace his/her sexual freedom, as long as it won’t jeopardise the successful outcome of his/her mission.

Psychological and physiological needs. The stellar being, like his/her predecessor (human being), has a need for a point of reference. Without other beings, the stellar being lose his/her original context. To define his/her mental and physiological place the stellar being needs to be considered as an active, participative individual in an articulated and stimulating community. When the stellar being physiological reference is absent, he/she risks to detach from his/her psychological reference as well. The two conditions correlate together to build up the wellness of the stellar being, both are needed to keep the stellar being mental and physical balance.

Empathy. The stellar being has a strong sense of the other. He/she is aware of his/her fellow astronauts’ psychological and physical condition and he/she is emotionally connected with them. This augmented sense of the human condition is an essential skill to the stellar being, not only because the well-being of all the stellar beings involved in the mission is optimal and necessary condition for the successful accomplishment of the mission, but also because a strong and emphasised perceptive attitude of the surrounding members of the community allows the stellar being to have a boosted consciousness of all the collective realities (stellar and terrestrial) he/she is part of.

Sensitivity. A sensible conduct is strongly related to an empathetic attitude. To show compassion, understanding, generosity, awareness it is necessary to know what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes. To be a truly evolved human being, the stellar being can’t exclude a sensible relationship with the environment he/she is living in. Many ideas have suggested scenarios in which humans try to colonise space by forcing on it a terrestrial connotation. The stellar being knows that there are no mountains or oceans in space, no singing birds or dogs barking, no jazz singers, - he/she knows there are stars burning, planets bending the space-time, invisible particles moving with inconceivable speed, hidden mysteries in every inch of the infinite: the stellar being knows all this is still nature and he/she is amazed and overwhelmed by it!

Ambition. An inspired human being wittingly accepts a new moral and behavioural code because he/she has dreams. To accomplish and realise those dreams he/she embraces change. So, the human being evolves into a stellar being: an enlightened mind and a sensible heart fed with challenges and big purposes.

Imperfection. Imperfection is probably the only constant factor in human nature. Even if there’s been improvement in the course of time, for as much as we try, we will never be able to mutate this gene. The stellar being is powered by imperfection because it contemplates chaos, entropia and creativity. These are necessary ingredients to create tension between the human being and its boldest achievements. The stellar being embrace chaos, entropia and creativity as they are chances to subjectively describe the lows of the universe. Imperfection is the truest and most precious human feature because it always generates creative potential.

The stellar being vows to forever remain imperfect.

• Jan Davis and Mark Lee were married before they went to space aboard Endeavour during STS-47. Photo: NASA