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Space Colonization - A Poll

Posted by: FerrisValyn - Wed Feb 01, 2006 10:58 pm
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Space Colonization - A Poll 

How many years are we away from Space Colonization?
Already started 4%  4%  [ 1 ]
5 years 4%  4%  [ 1 ]
10 years 12%  12%  [ 3 ]
20 years 31%  31%  [ 8 ]
50 years 27%  27%  [ 7 ]
75 years 4%  4%  [ 1 ]
100 years 19%  19%  [ 5 ]
We are never gonna colonize space 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 26

Space Colonization - A Poll 
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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 18, 2006 3:36 pm
Hello, Andy Hill,

your initial remark implicitly extends the definition problems FerrisValyn already pointed too and wants to avoid a good way.

It is impossible to start space colonization if the methods, technologies etc. aren't available. So the lack of them might be the only or at least the essential reason why colonization hasn't been started yet.

The development of the technologies etc. and the evolution of private spaceflight may mean to start the colonization - even if it is not done consciously and intendedly. Perhaps it shouldn't be called a start but a germ merely.

There are examples of events in history which may be colonizations but also might have been conquests or invasions. One of these examples is the Easter Island. Ass ar as I read about it it wasn't inhabited by humans originally but the humans arrived crossing the ocean.

Now the humans arriving at the Easter island never crossed the ocean by swimming - they had a technology: They used small fragile boats. Without those boats and a lot precise experiences they never could have started to go to Easter Island because they would have lacked the technologies etc.

The essential difference is the existence of firm ground above the sea level. In orbit this firm ground originally didn't exist - but now it's there abd besides the ISS there is a lot of rocket-sized debris which could be used and/or cannibalized for colonization.

So a germ of colonization might be working already.

Next something regarding the costs of colonization - "billions" - needs to be mentioned here. It's very essential to distiguish if these "billions" are invetments and thus fixed costs or if they are variable costs or if they partially that and partially this.

The people arriving at Easter Island needed to invest a lot to be able to live there. They did the investments to ensure life and existence there for generations of their people. So they didn't know the depreciations to do.

This is valid for the invetsment-share of the "billions" also. So what's required only is the explicit intention that generations of the people settling in orbit live there. This points to Prof. Collins' researches.

If eternity is involved this way - and it was involved in the colonization of the Americas also - then the "billions" can't be accounted and so mustn't.

This even is the more valid regarding the Moon and regarding Mars. It menas that the Economics of this topic are significantly different to those of companies, vehicles and the like. The "billions" simply would be financed by taxes the inhabitants of the colonies will have to pay.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:23 pm
We are still not all in agreement what constitutes a colony. Is ISS a colony, even though it is in an unstable orbit, requiring constant re-boost? Are the various Antarctic bases colonies? Is it a colony if you plan to grow it to a complete independent civilization? Is it a colony, even if it is self supporting, if it is intended to be abandoned in a few years? My answers to these questions are no, no, yes and no.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 18, 2006 9:46 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
We are still not all in agreement what constitutes a colony.


Does this really matter? I'm more interested in how people think colonisation will come about and what the drivers will be rather than an exact definition of the term.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:10 pm
It matters because a colony is more than just a few people occupying some location temporarily, even if a continuous presence is maintained by rotating in other people. An effort is being made in this thread to redefine a colony so that things like ISS or the Antarctic bases can be called a colony and the admitted reason is to trick people who don't know any better into supporting an unsustainable vision of space development.

Comparing the 17th century American colonies, where people with a few simple tools could live off the land, with the help of residents already there (Indians), to attempts to live where there is not even air, much less water, plants or animals, is just crazy


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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 19, 2006 11:56 am
Since I mentioned Easter Island - there is another good example: Malta.

Malta is a very small european country in the Mediterranean Sea and it is a member of the EU.

The territory of Malta consists of rocky ground only no tree grwos at. The rocks are covered by La Valetta, the capital, and a few other villages or towns.

There is scarcity of water there and of some other things.

So why it is there? That country simply exists because Malat had been used by the Cross Knights in the Middle Age.

Malta is incapable to live off its territory. There will be a little fishing and the like but that's insufficient. The water of the Mediterranian Sea is salty and thus not potable.

But that country sustains. Something like that could be possible for an orbital colony also: solar power to get and deliver electricty, gathering debris and the like.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 19, 2006 2:20 pm
Peter

I think that the word colony does not have an exact meaning and you are attempting to attribute your own to it. Many words change meanings over time and language is not a constant, it is constantly developing (some people even consider English a different language to American).

For example even simple words can have vastly different meanings with the passage of time, saying that someone was "gay" fifty years ago had a totally different meaning to what it has now for instance. So expecting "colony" to have the exact meaning that it did when America was colonised is incorrect.

My Oxford dictionary defines Colony as:

Quote:
settlement or settlers in new territory remaining subject to parent state; persons of one nationality or occupation etc. forming community in town etc.


My dictionary is a bit old though so it could have changed by now. :)

Going on the above the ISS could be called a colony in the broad sense of the word, would I consider it to be one? No. Dependancy does not necessarily exclude it from being a colony, you can have a pet ant "colony" that is totally dependant upon human's providing food and water for instance.

The above semantics is really all beside the point though and the real interesting thing is how you can get people to consider that off-world colonisation will be a real possibility in the next few decades. I would say that the only real way to achieve this is to show them it happening, a moon base with tens of astronauts on extended stays with a regular transport system would be a good start, a couple of astronauts in LEO with a constantly troubled shuttle service is not convincing. :)

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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 19, 2006 4:42 pm
To add a bit again - the ancient Greeks had colonies everywhere around the Mediterranian Sea and they all have well-known names: Neapel (Neapolis in Ancient Greek), Syracuse (Italia, Syracusai in Ancient Greek), Marseille (Massilia in Ancient Greek) and so on.

But all these ancient greek colonies were completely independent of their mother countries - since such countreis didn't exist. The only countries with sovereignty and goverments were the greek cisties and all the colonies were such cities also.

So "colony" doesn't necessaryly mean interdependency from a mother country and I only can agree to Andy.

But all those ancient greek colonies have a special aspect valid regarding the presence in this thread: They have been founded because of trade. The ancient Greeks were a people of traders. Trade is something sustainability can be based on - as far as I know that's valid for Malta too partially.

For this reason an orbital colony could sustain by trade - trading debris, trading electricity or - later - trading ressources got by mining asteroids. The ISS could be made a part of such a colony by using it for checking the ressource mined and to be checked etc.

This trading orbital colony could include a spacedock, an assembly yard and a spaceport - the pendants of equipments to be found in ancient greek colonies around the Mediterranian Sea also.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 19, 2006 8:30 pm
Man, I wish I could've gotten through yesterday and friday night - for whatever reason, I couldn't get onto the web site. And now I have to play catch up. But, whatcha gonna do? :?

In anycase, lets get started

Marshall wrote:
I don't disagree that SpaceX stands a chance to make orbital launches alot cheaper than they are. I don't take it on faith either. Not to spend too much time on technology, but if their TSTO RLV (a technology I admittedly should have mentioned in my first post) turns out to be really reusable, and not Shuttle-style "reusable," i.e. more expensive to refurbish than to build a new one, then what you're talking about might happen. I don't know about it being as cheap as you think it will be, but let's just say I hope you're right and I'm wrong.

The thing is, you seem to KNOW it's going to happen, whereas Pete Campbell, Andy Hill and myself THINK that it COULD happen. Do you wonder why that is? It's because there have been plenty of times past when it seemed as though we were at the dawn of a true space age and each time there were the loyal space cadets saying, "this is it! We're finally gonna do it!" and we didn't do it. I mean, look at Pete's avatar.

As for getting the rest of the population interested in space colonization, I'm sure they'll be interested when we're at the point where you can do orbital travel without being a multi- millionaire. Until then, most people just really aren't paying any attention at all. I've known some people i consider very intelligent who were very surprised to hear that we haven't set foot on the moon since 1972. However, the same people were really excited about SpaceShipOne. I heard people saying, "Hmm. $200,000 eh? Well, that's just the beginning... It could get down to my price range in several years... It'd be even better than skydiving!" So yeah, interest is there, if the people think they could be involved. But if I had, before SSO, told these folks about the possibility, in their lifetimes, of taking a suborbital joyride on a privately-financed, reusable rocketplane, they would have thought I was crazy! That's why it was so exciting to them, because they never would have believed it. That is why I think it is premature to talk to the people about space colonization. We do not currently have the capability to put enough mass in orbit at non-ridiculous costs to do so. It would be disingenuous in the meantime to imply that what we are doing now is a kind of colonization. I just don't think you could get much further than recruiting a few more kool-aid drinkers, and we have enough of them already!


First, I think we need a new definition for the space shuttle - it wasn't reusable - it was salvagable :D

In anycase, to serious points. As for why I know it is going to be different, this time, I think it was best made by someone at Prospace - one of the guys there was lamenting that there weren't a great number of returning attendings, and someone else (I think it was Mark, the president) said "Part of the reason for lack of returning attendies is a good chunck of them are actually building space ships" For the first time, we have the kind of money needed to build the crafts, and we have seen results, and, in effect, have 2 fully built crafts - SpaceShipOne has actually flown, 3 times, and SpaceX's is sitting on the pad (I wish I could say it's actually flown, then I'd have even more evidence, but its close enough to actually count right now, IMHO). The point is, not that I think it will be different - the point is, it is already different, because we've seen true results. If all we had were more viewgraphs and powerpoint presentations, I think there would be a valid point to the question of why is this gonna be different - but its well beyond that. We have ships built and being built, which makes it different.

As far as people thinking private sub-orbital crafts as crazy before SSO happened, part of the problem as I see it is that the public was sold a bill of goods that basically said the following
1 - Nasa will take everybody to space, so there will be no need of private businesses/private ventures.
2 - When Nasa takes us to space, there will be world wide unity. We will all be singing together in the streets.
In essence, people believed that we'd be living in some sort of Star Trek fantasy, when we started colonizing space. So, any sort of idea outside this Star Trek wetdream is/was seen as bizarre. With Rutan's flight, people have/are beginning to wake up to the idea that there are other options, for colonizing space. I mean, to look at it rather simply, for the first time, we've actually had someone build their own space ship in their garage (ok, yes, that garage was not your typical 2-car, but still).

Fundementally, I suppose I think that most people fall into 3 catagories when it comes to space
Group A - People who don't get space's potential, and never will until well after it's happened.
Group B - People who get space's potential, but because they don't follow the technology that much, think its a long way off
Group C - People who get space's potential, follow the technology, and realize just how close we are.

Most people fall into Group B. Unfortantly, more people are in Group A, than in Group C. And that the reason we are still having a Manned vs Unmanned debat. And so, we've got to pull people from Group B into Group C. And, when you make the colonization arguement, the whole Manned vs Unmanned debate ends.


Turning to Andy's first comment, the only think that I think needs addressing (beyond what I've already said) is this
Andy Hill wrote:
The trouble with your poll is that it really depends on what an individual considers to be a colony as to how long it will be before one is established. From a feasibility point of view one will probably be possible within 25 years from a financial viewpoint it is likely to take at least 50.


I intentionally left it open-ended, and said as much back during the first few days. And as far as your ffeasiblity and finacial viewpoint, I go back - I'd argue that ISS is a space colony - Of course, we are already having that arguement.

Ekkehard's point about the germ of colonization brings a thought to me, which I think doesn't actually help us, but I will throw it out there still - that ISS could be considered a Proto-colony. If one can only bring themselves to embrace the germ idea, then definatly ISS could be seen as a proto-colony. Still, I think in the long term it makes more sense to call it a colony, but I will agree with that small point, at least for the moment.

campbelp2002 wrote:
We are still not all in agreement what constitutes a colony. Is ISS a colony, even though it is in an unstable orbit, requiring constant re-boost? Are the various Antarctic bases colonies? Is it a colony if you plan to grow it to a complete independent civilization? Is it a colony, even if it is self supporting, if it is intended to be abandoned in a few years? My answers to these questions are no, no, yes and no.


Well, those were in no way loaded questions. I mean, there is no way those questions would be push-polling questions. All I will say to that is 1)We could/can change the orbit and 2)There is no reason it has to be abandon in a few years.

This brings me to Andy and Pete's comments about the semantics of colonization. First, Pete's comment
campbelp2002 wrote:
It matters because a colony is more than just a few people occupying some location temporarily, even if a continuous presence is maintained by rotating in other people. An effort is being made in this thread to redefine a colony so that things like ISS or the Antarctic bases can be called a colony and the admitted reason is to trick people who don't know any better into supporting an unsustainable vision of space development.

Comparing the 17th century American colonies, where people with a few simple tools could live off the land, with the help of residents already there (Indians), to attempts to live where there is not even air, much less water, plants or animals, is just crazy


camphelp2002, Andy is right - your demanding that everyone use your personal definition for colonies.

Second, the thing is, many people coming to America viewed it with the same kind of hostility that we view space. The idea that the natives would be willing to help them never entered there minds until they were almost dead. They weren't succesful because of great planning or technology, or anything like that - they were just damn lucky.

Finally, Ekkehard Augustin made some excellent points about trade being sustainable, if if the colonies aren't completely supply independent.

Now, to Andy's final comment

Andy Hill wrote:
The above semantics is really all beside the point though and the real interesting thing is how you can get people to consider that off-world colonisation will be a real possibility in the next few decades. I would say that the only real way to achieve this is to show them it happening, a moon base with tens of astronauts on extended stays with a regular transport system would be a good start, a couple of astronauts in LEO with a constantly troubled shuttle service is not convincing. :)


The thing is, you can't convince people of colonization unless you have the semantics settled. Semantics can become very important whenever you are trying to sell something.

BTW, Ekkehard, your Malta/Easter island, and Greek colonies are other excellent examples. Thank you for suggesting them. And your point about trade probably gets at what I've been trying to say for a while - that being colonization based on trade is sustainable, even if the colonies themselves weren't totally supply independent.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 19, 2006 10:27 pm
FerrisValyn wrote:
The thing is, you can't convince people of colonization unless you have the semantics settled. Semantics can become very important whenever you are trying to sell something.


Thats why you shouldn't call a couple of guys whizzing around the Earth a couple of hundred miles above its surface in an expensive tin can a colony.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 19, 2006 10:57 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
FerrisValyn wrote:
The thing is, you can't convince people of colonization unless you have the semantics settled. Semantics can become very important whenever you are trying to sell something.


Thats why you shouldn't call a couple of guys whizzing around the Earth a couple of hundred miles above its surface in an expensive tin can a colony.


Huh? You've lost me


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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 19, 2006 11:08 pm
FerrisValyn wrote:
many people coming to America viewed it with the same kind of hostility that we view space.
I just cannot accept that at all. There are just no parallels at all, even though the space colonization people always try to say there are. A land with all the needs of life, no matter how hostile it may be, just cannot be considered as equivalent, or similar, or analogous to a vacuum with none of the needs of life at all. In the days when Mars and Venus were supposed to have breathable atmospheres and liquid water they could be realistically compared to America, but now we know better. And ISS? Oh come on!. At least the L5 society designed their colony with gravity and put it at the L5 point where it would stay put without constant re-boost!

The reason given so often by the space colonization people is that we need a second home for the human race, in case the first one is no longer habitable. I just cannot imagine anything, short of the sun going nova, that would render the Earth less habitable than the Moon or even Mars.

Keeping a few people alive somewhere in space, just to say we are doing it, will not advance space development. It will just drain resources from that development. I am much more excited by the prospect of tourism. We have been talking about colonization for decades and it has gotten us nowhere. Tourism shows every indication of really getting us somewhere. None of those tourists plans to make space a home, wisely so, IMO. Space is an exciting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

And lastly, do you consider the Antarctic bases colonies? I really want to know!


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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 19, 2006 11:18 pm
As I said earlier the ISS could be called a colony using the word in a broad sense, IMO most people would not regard it as such and Peter's term of "outpost" or possibly "bridgehead" would be closer. Because most people would not consider it as a colony (indeed most people dont think about it at all normally) referring to it as one would not strike a chord with them.

I think it is better for it to be seen as a stepping stone or a tool to achieve a colony rather than a colony in its own right, it gives it a true purpose rather than give it something else it has to live up to and carry baggage around for. The ISS has enough labels already so while it might have the potential to be a colony in the future IMO it is not productive to call it one at present and I fail to see how it furthers the cause of colonisation in any way.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:06 am
campbelp2002 wrote:
FerrisValyn wrote:
many people coming to America viewed it with the same kind of hostility that we view space.
I just cannot accept that at all. There are just no parallels at all, even though the space colonization people always try to say there are. A land with all the needs of life, no matter how hostile it may be, just cannot be considered as equivalent, or similar, or analogous to a vacuum with none of the needs of life at all. In the days when Mars and Venus were supposed to have breathable atmospheres and liquid water they could be realistically compared to America, but now we know better. And ISS? Oh come on!. At least the L5 society designed their colony with gravity and put it at the L5 point where it would stay put without constant re-boost!


Of course, your assuming space is without resources that can be exploited, but we already know that not to be true. Mars, the moon, asteriods are teaming with resources. Do you need advance technology to get at them? Absolutely, but much of the technology already exists, and realistically, how many people could actually survive out in the wild, without any technology? Or even basic stone age technology? (I should amend that - More people in developing coutries are directly responsible for putting food on the table, but fore most people in developed countries, if you put them out in the wilderness, they'd be screwed!)

And as for how people viewed coming to a new world in the 1500 and 1600 - Look at the history - I believe I've heard that travel deaths going for things like spices were on the order of 70-80% (that would be death rates, not survival) and as far death rates within the colonies, early on, they were pretty bad as well. Of course, basic survival on the whole everywhere was pretty terrible, so it wasn't that much different back home.

And you still haven't proven that ISS can't be added onto, to deal with life support, or that it can't be moved/adjusted such that it doesn't need a reboost. And human survival isn't dependent upon gravity

campbelp2002 wrote:
The reason given so often by the space colonization people is that we need a second home for the human race, in case the first one is no longer habitable. I just cannot imagine anything, short of the sun going nova, that would render the Earth less habitable than the Moon or even Mars.


Again, you are assuming that those places are without resources that can be exploited - again, not true. I've already dealt with that. And as far a reason - well, your imagination is rather lacking for how the earth could be less hospitable than Mars, and possibly even the moon.

Finally, reasons for colonization aren't and shouldn't be solely dependent upon second home creation.

campbelp2002 wrote:
Keeping a few people alive somewhere in space, just to say we are doing it, will not advance space development. It will just drain resources from that development. I am much more excited by the prospect of tourism. We have been talking about colonization for decades and it has gotten us nowhere. Tourism shows every indication of really getting us somewhere. None of those tourists plans to make space a home, wisely so, IMO. Space is an exciting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.


Except that we haven't been talking about colonization for ages - we've been talking about exploration. Nasa has always talked about exploration, and only grudgingly and occasionally, talked about exploitation and colonization. This is why you hear so many people saying we should just send probes. And as far as tourists not planning on making homes, I suggest you go ask that to people like Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos. Then try and say that with a straight face

campbelp2002 wrote:
And lastly, do you consider the Antarctic bases colonies? I really want to know!


The various bases and outposts taken together, yes I would
After all, McMurdo alone can get up to 3,000 people in it.

And what about my question to you? Would you consider the USA to be a colony? Or Great Britian? Or Japan?


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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:36 am
Andy Hill wrote:
As I said earlier the ISS could be called a colony using the word in a broad sense, IMO most people would not regard it as such and Peter's term of "outpost" or possibly "bridgehead" would be closer. Because most people would not consider it as a colony (indeed most people dont think about it at all normally) referring to it as one would not strike a chord with them.

I think it is better for it to be seen as a stepping stone or a tool to achieve a colony rather than a colony in its own right, it gives it a true purpose rather than give it something else it has to live up to and carry baggage around for. The ISS has enough labels already so while it might have the potential to be a colony in the future IMO it is not productive to call it one at present and I fail to see how it furthers the cause of colonisation in any way.

First, the fact that they don't normally think about it is part of the problem (well, actually its that they don't think about space colonization, but IMHO, the 2 can become permanatly linked)

Actually, I'd argue there isn't a label for ISS - and thats its problem. The science it does has/is debateable. Right now, given resupply problems, it can't be anything (since only enough water is delievered for 2 people, and it needs 2 people just to maintain it.

Of course, part of the problem is that the station construction is on-going right now. It would be much easier to see in 10-20 years. After all, everyone probably agrees, Skylab was not a colony. And if we abandon it in a few years, without expanding it beyond what it is right now, then it will have been a still-born colony (or an almost colony). But that doesn't need to be the case. And if we do something different with it, I think it could become a colony, even in campbelp2002's eyes.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:04 am
FerrisValyn wrote:
First, the fact that they don't normally think about it is part of the problem (well, actually its that they don't think about space colonization, but IMHO, the 2 can become permanatly linked).


The old enemy, not enough people think about space as a real place (surprising given the amount of big budget SF films made) :( . IMO the 2 are linked already and the ISS serves as a stepping stone and a test bed for the rest of the solar system and it only requires NASA to get its act together so that it can be exploited to the full.

FerrisValyn wrote:
Actually, I'd argue there isn't a label for ISS - and thats its problem. The science it does has/is debateable. Right now, given resupply problems, it can't be anything (since only enough water is delievered for 2 people, and it needs 2 people just to maintain it.


Not one that sticks, but plenty that various politicians have given it from time to time ("A symbol of international cooperation" springs to mind most easily but there are others). I dont see calling it a colony being anymore adhesive than any of the other lables, especially since it is so illsuited for the task at the moment. If in 20 years or whatever the decision is taken to expand it so that it can operate as a colony then that is when you should call it one not now.

FerrisValyn wrote:
Of course, part of the problem is that the station construction is on-going right now. It would be much easier to see in 10-20 years. After all, everyone probably agrees, Skylab was not a colony. And if we abandon it in a few years, without expanding it beyond what it is right now, then it will have been a still-born colony (or an almost colony). But that doesn't need to be the case. And if we do something different with it, I think it could become a colony, even in campbelp2002's eyes.


So in effect you are agreeing that while the ISS has the potential to become a colony in the future it is not one at the moment? I see no fundamental difference between Skylab and the ISS in how they can be compared to a colony, both are the same in that respect.

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