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Constructing... Spaceship Earth


Spaceship Earth is such an extremely complex entity that its mere existence alone could be called an engineering miracle. From its structural technique to is metaphoric message, it is so completely symbiotic that, like is triangular exterior, it is often hard separate its many and interconnected facets. Nevertheless, the intricate way in which the story of man-kind was compiled and presented serves as a testament to Art of Imagineering and its way of presenting history and factual information in an thoughtful, intelligent and surprisingly entertaining way. In the future, E82 will go in greater detail on all aspects of Spaceship Earth’s development, construction, thematic structure, and four generations of evolution. But for now, I’d like to examine just exactly why she is encased into such a specialized material. Alucobond is quite literally (and appropriately) a space-age composite that was first manufactured the year we landed on the moon in 1969. Interestingly, like the Lunar-Lander, the original concept for Spaceship Earth was to be covered in a metallic gold. After through research it was determined that gold would retain heat and reflect the already blinding Florida sun. As a result, silver (known for being able to reflect heat) was chosen as the primary color of Spaceship Earth’s Geosphere. The brushed Aluminum surface solved the reflected light problem, and also led to more thematically appropriate aesthetic.

To paraphrase from original the literature, Spaceship Earth surface reflects the world it stands in tribute too. During the day, it softly defuses and refracts the blue skies, white clouds, and the green Earth. At night, her more prismatic qualities are revealed by the way breaks-up the color of a relatively small number of lights into hundreds of variating hues. In past years, the lighting schemes of Spaceship Earth were changed and more subtle variations enabled the sphere to reflect the lights of Future World and more specifically those of World Showcase. It is this description that encapsulates the visual meaning and message of Spaceship Earth: the precious sphere reflects Who We Are (W.S.) and our Collective Dreams for Tomorrow (F.W.).

© Disney All Rights Reserved

Photo Caption:
This somewhat self-explanatory shot from September of 1981 depicts Spaceship Earth’s Alucobond Geodesics “staged” on the (then) Mobility Parking Lot awaiting installation. Interestingly, each one of these panels are unique. The geosphere is not evenly spherical/perfect therefore each of the 954 panels were drafted and constructed individually!

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