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Goal: keep your reach ahead of your grasp

Goal: keep your reach ahead of your grasp
July 04, 2010, 06:53:08 PM
Here's a proposal. Set up a permanent colony around Centauri A or B.

The rational declining civilization says we can't do this. The distance is too far, requiring several generations of man to get there. If it were a multi-generational colony craft capable of sustained 1G acceleration to minimize travel time without damaging the living occupants, the vessel would be immense and thus far too expensive. Besides, we have no idea about the conditions of planets in and around these stars, if there are any.

Let's do something more convenient and pressing like save Darfur. We the people appreciate quick gratification, we feel more secure with a low probability of failure and we can live with tiny gains that vanish quickly in due time.

The ascending civilization says let's go for it. No, we won't come anywhere close right now, but maybe we can take one step. Let's get a handle on setting up a long term colony closer to home on Earth's moon.

After the first generation, we lost some people and wealth, but finally we have a handle on this long term space colony thing. Tourists who save up $25k for our "Vacation of a Lifetime" have started to show up, taking some of the financial pressure off. People are talking about setting up moisture farms as independent pioneer colonists.

After the second generation, we're getting better at keeping people from dying on the moon, but the profit from space tourism is tapering off because the price tag is less. But, the moisture farms are popping up alongside some unexpected mineral farms and greenhouses. This moon colony thing is looking like a permanent self-sustaining operation. People are talking about having a go at Mars.

After the third generation, a fairly active spaceport appears on the moon shuttling people between the moon surface, the independent but struggling LaGrange Point colonies that have appeared, and the aging but busy International Space Station in close Earth orbit. The first long term Mars outpost looks like a winner after the preceding four went bust. People are talking about mining water ice and metals from the distant asteroid belt.

After the fourth generation, a couple of long term colonies are set up on Mars. Additionally, there is a gritty spacecraft refueling and maintenance station sheltered in a crater on the surface of Phobos. Several premature expeditions to the asteroid belt were disasters. Some of them are unaccounted for. We have no idea where they are. One made it back intact, but empty handed, except for a wealth of data on local conditions in that remote part of the Solar System.

The Alpha Centauri thing is still totally unrealistic, but we're keeping our heading fixed in that direction nonetheless. It's a step-and-a-half backward for every two steps forward, but we're finally conquering places those who came before us could never hope to master.

What's with the obsession with space colonization around here? Shouldn't we avoid spreading our species to other planets until it's been disinfected?

Yes, definitely - civilization needs something to drive for zealously. This is something we need, everything impossible and threatening is to be colonized; the thought of going and capturing something beyond us cross pollinates into everything we do, our politics, our philosophy, our view on life - as a subset benefit. Even if in the immediate we don't have everything, chasing that goal drives civilized evolution forward, it is such a vision that can co-ordinate people allowing us to fix our problems.

And even if the smell of mediocrity still lingers in space, at least we won't become extinct and that future races will evolve to those worlds, to not be controlled by Earth, to even compete with the Earth or even isolate from it, how can they dumb them down and extinct the descendants of humanity if they are seperated by a million miles of space? They can't - we colonize space or we die trying.

Trauco

Space exploration is going to happen sooner or later,  but the strenght and dedication needed for this inmense task is going to be purely motivated by practical and commercial reasons - a way to find in other planets or moons the resources that are dangerously running out here, or to provide Earth with a safety valve for its growing human population. Will it near us, through noble inspiration, to a spiritual advancement of civilization in any way, or will it be - as the OP says - the expression of an ascendant society? I don't think so: in the same way the exploration of the Americas, Africa and the Orient was motivated, not by the inspired discussions set in Antiquity and medieval times about the nature of the Antipodes, but by greed and a gorilla-like hunger for conquest, so the exploration of space is going to be, at bottom, an act of naked consumption, fueled by humanity's colossal and undying vanity. Sure, it should be, at most, a great aesthetic experience for some; but that won't impele it. It is not going to be an act of inspiration, but of animal need.

It would be better to consider a new strategy for world improvement.

American tax dollars are already being put into space colonization! I don't know whether to wince or applaud the idea that effort is going into "training" or informing the public regarding colonization; I'm sure it's a very costly venture. Here's another link that suggests the MMO will provide various accreditation to various technical things. I must say that it is fairly viable. Back when I was 14 or so, I played America's Army and trained to become a field medic. I recently received my license/accreditation for First Aid/CPR, and I must say that the content I was exposed to in the game (which was very accurate) has stuck with me ever since (six years?).

Some quotes:

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Timelines in the much anticipated Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond MMO will be set even farther in the exciting future (2035+)

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The primary audience for this MMO game will be students (13 and older) from the middle school level through college. At the earlier grade levels, the game can empower students to make academic choices as well as supporting learning
http://ipp.gsfc.nasa.gov/mmo/postmmo/Dr.Daniel%20Laughlin.pdf

I wonder how we can reconcile legitimate ecological critique of capitalism with the resources needed for these types of ventures. Surely the fact that we are using up all of the world oil for mostly useless stuff poses a definite problem to the long term development of space exploration.

Shouldn't we avoid spreading our species to other planets until it's been disinfected?

Not all require disinfection. If we sent our good people to colonize, we could set up a prosperous colony in space and allow these idiots here to pass into chimpanzee state. They could later be exterminated and the planet made into a giant nature park.

I wonder how we can reconcile legitimate ecological critique of capitalism with the resources needed for these types of ventures. Surely the fact that we are using up all of the world oil for mostly useless stuff poses a definite problem to the long term development of space exploration.

We can do better things with these finite resources other than feeding the world and rebuilding oppressive regimes without end.

Shouldn't we avoid spreading our species to other planets until it's been disinfected?

Not all require disinfection. If we sent our good people to colonize, we could set up a prosperous colony in space and allow these idiots here to pass into chimpanzee state. They could later be exterminated and the planet made into a giant nature park.
You're missing the point, which is that until disinfection DOES occur, any ventures into space colonization will not be exclusively limited to humanity's best. That's RACITS!!1! At best, they'll be limited to humanity's wealthiest - and we all know wealth is hardly the best measure of either character or ability in today's world.

Thinking that sending people off to start their own civilization, without first correcting the problems that make this possibility seem appealing, will somehow bypass those same problems is erroneous. It is no different than the belief that living in a commune of like minded people, or living off of other people's refuse, is better than contributing to society in a positive manner.

I say bomb any future colony ships until we stop being consumerist, humanist, liberal, passive-aggressive egomaniacs. Until that occurs, any sort of wishful thinking (such as thinking only the best would be chosen) is death.

I have a different view. By leaving the comforts of our terrestrial home, the natural selection bar is raised higher. The unfit who follow meet a timely demise leaving the innovative and cooperative as autonomous survivors beyond the egalitarian, subsidizing grasp of Earth's mediocre equals.

You're still operating under wishful thinking - consider the world as it is, not as you wish it to be. Why would NASA send off space colonists without a logistical support structure in place? Their funding would be cut off instantly for not taking every possible precaution to ensure the safety of their colonists/spores. There would be no development of Darwinian ideals because, in the current world, we care too much.

Not only that - world powers would have to be insane to allow the establishment and growth of pockets of human power unaffected by their own influence. This is not something I see as a problem to be fixed, but it is another impediment to the idea that any space colonization efforts would lead to ubermensch at the other end of the wormhole.

Then there's the whole polluting OTHER planets bit, but meh. Who cares, if they're not naturally inhabitable anyway ...right?

Have you gotten to know any of these logistics support people? I have. They're more competent than most Americans I have gotten to know in various regions of the country. And for what little it's worth, they all vote Republican. Remember, these are just the support people.

I don't understand what you're implying, although I can say competence is hardly the issue.