The Nightstar Zoo

Charles Stross on the infeasibility of space colonization
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Author:  gnolam [ Sun Jun 17, 2007 6:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Charles Stross on the infeasibility of space colonization

The High Frontier, Redux - an essay by Charles Stross on the infeasibility of space colonization.

Charles Stross wrote:
I write SF for a living. Possibly because of this, folks seem to think I ought to be an enthusiastic proponent of space exploration and space colonization. Space exploration? Yep, that's a fair cop — I'm all in favour of advancing the scientific enterprise. But actual space colonisation is another matter entirely, and those of a sensitive (or optimistic) disposition might want to stop reading right now ...

Charles Stross wrote:
When we look at the rest of the solar system, the picture is even bleaker. Mars is ... well, the phrase "tourist resort" springs to mind, and is promptly filed in the same corner as "Gobi desert". As Bruce Sterling has puts it: "I'll believe in people settling Mars at about the same time I see people settling the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is about a thousand times as hospitable as Mars and five hundred times cheaper and easier to reach. Nobody ever writes "Gobi Desert Opera" because, well, it's just kind of plonkingly obvious that there's no good reason to go there and live. It's ugly, it's inhospitable and there's no way to make it pay. Mars is just the same, really. We just romanticize it because it's so hard to reach." In other words, going there to explore is fine and dandy — our robots are all over it already. But as a desirable residential neighbourhood it has some shortcomings, starting with the slight lack of breathable air and the sub-Antarctic nighttime temperatures and the Mach 0.5 dust storms, and working down from there.


Author:  Occupant [ Mon Jun 18, 2007 11:53 pm ]
Post subject: 

He's right... for now.

Edit: Oh, I suppose you want my answer expanded.

Space flight is three parts.
Phase one: Moon and Earth orbit.
Required Technologies:
1) Printed solar cells (for cheap energy)
2) Cheap easily replaced ablative re-entry foam (to be sprayed on after each landing)
3) Durable engines (with a diamond coating or something)
Then you can take off, refuel and get into orbit.
Estimated time: 20-60 years.
Colonization reason: Tourism, religious, political

Phase two:
Required Technologies:
1) All of the above.
2) Fusion reactor or nuclear fission reactor (already in developed) and orbital to power the ion drive.
Estimated time: 60+ years.
Colonization reason: Tourism, religious, political

Phase three:
FTL baby.
Required Technologies:
1) Quantum teleportation or some other FTL stuff.

Author:  richv [ Sat Dec 19, 2015 1:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Charles Stross on the infeasibility of space colonizatio

This is reminiscent of Lord Kelvin's assertion that it was physically impossible to build a functional "heavier than air" flying machine.

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