My name is Suzi Bianco and I am an Architect of Space

Curiosity has always been one of my main characteristics. Like Carl Sagan, I yearn to understand everything around me. Even as a little girl, back in Brazil, I was fascinated by nature in all of its extensions, and experimented with everything I could in the limited confinements of the many backyards where I grew up.

In my search for explanations, I frequently turned to books and magazines. I would spend hours looking through my father’s diving and architecture magazines. I loved the underwater world and its bizarre creatures; it all seemed so alien to me.

Meanwhile, I was awed at the beautiful and complex buildings in the architecture magazines, and one of my favorite pastimes on rainy days was to draw blueprints of houses, schools and cities. It didn’t take long before I started coming up with submarines, underwater cities and houses with a deep ocean view. In a way, I was a space architect before I even knew what that was.

I spent three of my teenage years in the USA, and had the chance to visit the great museums of New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston… I had never had access to so much information before; it was beyond anything I could have imagined. My visit to the Smithsonian Museum and the Kennedy Space Center were particularly enlightening, and kindled my interest in the universe.

Watching the motion picture Contact I could really comprehend the passion within the character of Jodie Foster. The universe is so vast, what wonders are waiting to be found? When will we be able to set sail for the stars? By the time I was 15, I was sure space exploration would begin in my lifetime and that I would be part of it somehow.

Going back to Brazil, I found that space was so far from our reality that it fell into the realm of fiction. My aspirations of exploring the cosmos were never encouraged, for they were simply unachievable. As I became older, my interests found more conventional grounds and I decided to become an architect, but a little part of me never stopped pining for the stars. In truth, I was always a bit frustrated that as an architect I wasn’t likely to become an astronaut or to participate in space exploration.

I graduated, and went to work at a great engineering company, Promon Engenharia. But the challenges of my work just weren’t compelling enough to keep me interested, and I started looking for alternatives. I found out about space architecture, and immediately it seemed obvious to me: this is what I had been preparing for during my entire life.

Concept for a Mars habitat

I decided to take a blind step into the exciting world of space architecture to design dwellings for the pioneers of space exploration. It wasn’t easy, I had to leave my whole life behind, move to another country and start from scratch, all the while hearing that my plan was insane and unrealistic. I had to convince my husband that it would be a good idea to spend our entire life savings to specialize in a field that didn’t even exist in my own country.

I applied and was accepted to the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) program at the University of Houston. Now that I am here, while learning a lot and getting a lot of great opportunities, I need to fight through government regulations that make it really difficult for foreigners like me to work with space.

Buzz Aldrin and I at SICSA

Space Decentral, to me, is a way to change the previous paragraph entirely. It is about providing the means for little girls and boys around the world to dream about space knowing that it is within their reach. It’s about engaging people from all nations in collaborative efforts to explore space as humans, rather than Americans, Russians or <insert nationality here>. By spreading the reach of space exploration efforts and engaging communities in the effort, every citizen of Earth will be able to relate to it and more importantly, be part of it. People with completely different mindsets and realities will be able to collaborate, bypassing national borders.

But we can’t abandon our mothership! The efforts that go into exploration of space need to translate back into improvement of life here on Earth. Space Decentral, through its network of connected minds, opens up the possibilities for that and beyond.

As Carl Sagan brilliantly put it:

Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.

Space Decentral is my ship, and we’re all set to go!

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