Bootstraping Space Colonization

1. Humans can fly to the orbit and the moon and can send things to outer space. (now)
2. ???
3. Humans have colonized the outer space. (PROFIT)

This page is to gather ideas about what the step 2 is and brainstorm how to make a tangible contribution. Keep your imagination within currently understood physical laws and plausible inventions based on already known concepts. It's pasky's scratchpad page but feel free to edit if you have some ideas.

Target

It would appear that with all resources shortages, environmental deterioration, ideologic fundamentalism and globally dangerous (or simply irrationally appearing to be for the majority of humans) experiments, the straightforward solution is to shatter humanity to many voluntarily independent (or varyingly interdependent) pieces.

Step 3 will be achieved when there are multiple stable, independent, self-sufficient human colonies out of the immediate reach of Earth (i.e. not just the orbit). A colony can be based on some space object (planet, moon, asteroid) or a free-standing construed space structure.

Unfortunately, this still sounds too much like far-removed science fiction given that the year is 2012. Weren't we supposed to start terraforming Mars around now?

Step 2

The self-sufficient human colonies will not just pop up from thin air, such state must be achieved gradually by building on many intermediate steps. The requirements are partially independent and the problem is to trace them far enough to reach some that can be worked on now (and most of the steps must be feasible and fun to work on by themselves to also bring short-term rewards).

General human colony requirements:

  • Transportation technology (we must be able to get there and haul stuff over there)
    • This seems to be the only area making big progress as of now and perhaps not crucial to involve oneself in.
    • Of course, travel to other planets will still take enormous amount of time, but 1-3 years to Mars is ok and we can build stations close by first
  • Space construction technology (we must be able to build it)
    • TODO materials
      • hauling from gravitational well: expensive, slow, planet resource limitations
      • mining asteroids, moon, ….: space mining technology,planetary resources inc., may materialize in 50-100 years
    • TODO construction parts from materials
      • 3D printing in space? Nanobot-based 3D printing?
    • TODO space welding etc. technology
    • TODO robotics control technology
  • Space structural maintenance technology (we must be able to keep it together)
    • TODO energy sources in space
    • TODO protection from flying pebbles and other debris
    • TODO high-bandwidth communication
    • TODO fully autonomous, adaptive AI command and control (maintenance, navigation, mission execution)
  • Human living environment (we must be able to stay there)
    • TODO air
    • TODO water
    • TODO food
    • TODO radiation shielding
    • TODO artificial gravity technology (only for freestanding station; rotation may be ok but think it through)
    • TODO leisure
      • very limited space in general, no travel, no outdoors exercise, quite limited range of hobbies, no IRC with Earthlings
      • virtual reality? psychological impact?
 
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