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New IMAX movie shows what life may be like in 100 years

L5 October 25, 1996
Web posted at: 11:59 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent David George

ATLANTA (CNN) -- "L5," the latest offering from the creators of 360-degree film, is science fiction that's more science than fiction.

movie icon(35 sec./1.2M QuickTime movie)

The new IMAX film is set 100 years in the future on a mile-wide city floating 250,000 miles in space. The name of the place, L5, refers to an actual point between the Earth and the Moon where the pull of gravity is virtually zero.

L5's look is the work of artist Pat Rawlings, who's been doing drawings for NASA for 17 years. Rawlings says the design of L5 is based on NASA's plans for an International Space Station.

"I've taken some of the basic physics, the basic scales, and then extrapolated from that, and then applied the technologies to a different set of design requirements that make the final product look different, but still play by a lot of the same rules," he said.


"L5" spins at 200 miles an hour, creating artificial gravity. The city's 10,000 inhabitants live among plants and animals in small communities not unlike those found on Earth.

"They need air. They need water. They need food, and greenery, and sunlight. And all the processes that we have here need to be reproduced in such a community," said the movie's director, Toni Myers.

With its eye on the future, NASA is in fact already working on things like special soil for growing plants in space, and has conducted experiments where people live sealed inside artificial habitats for months at a time.

Officially, the agency says a truly Earth-like environment in space could be decades away.


Rawlings claims the technology to support a colony like L5 already exists. "We could have a city like this right now if we had the money and the political will to do it," he said.

The story of "L5" centers around efforts to capture much-needed water from a passing comet. It's told through the eyes of a little girl who was born on L5. Rachel Walker, who played that role, said her favorite part of the movie was "playing with the animals."

Animals and other amenities of life, Rawlings says, are essential to any efforts by humans to colonize space. "I don't know many people that want to live in a can for a prolonged period of time. I think they're going to have to have an environment that mimics fairly closely what they're accustomed to," he said.

Even in outer space we are, after all, Earthlings.


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