Colonizers Have Always Been the Salvation of Humanity
From the very first, it is the human instinct to migrate and colonize new territory that maximizes the odds for human survival. Always looking for better hunting grounds, better fishing, better trade routes, and better farmlands, humans have spread out to populate most of the land masses of Earth, and have adapted to live and prosper in dozens of climates and microbiomes. It is better not to have all your eggs in one basket.
The tendency for humans to form governments and for governments to claim bounded territories, has put a damper on human migrations and colonization in recent times. Fortunately, the Earth and its fossilized government and intergovernmental rent-seekers only represent a tiny part of the solar system.
The two wealthiest men on Earth — Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos — have their own ideas for how best to move humans beyond their Earth-bound limitations into the outer universe at large. Elon Musk wants to move at least a million humans to Mars, which he sees as the best off-Earth outpost for human habitation. Jeff Bezos wants to build millions of giant orbiting space colonies to house at least a trillion people well away from the home planet.
Other visionaries have their eyes on Luna as a stepping off point and colonization destination. Humans have already landed on the moon, which has now been shown to have a supply of frozen water — and Luna is much closer and more accessible to Earth than any other planetary surface. The Earth’s moon has abundant building materials for infrastructure, and plenty of sunlight for half the days of every month. And once humans master the technical difficulties of nuclear fusion, Luna will have enough He3 fuel to generate power for millions of years. With enough reasons for economic activity on and around the moon, and the cislunar economy cannot be far off. After that we are likely to see $trillionaires sprouting up as quickly as we have seen $billionaires sprouting over the past few decades.
With a diverse array of companies each taking care of one small part of the infrastructure and activities needed to keep a healthy economy going in space, the pieces of the cislunar economy are beginning to fall into place. This is all thanks to a combination of different factors such as policy initiatives, new technologies, and the new millionaires and billionaires that are part of the generation of Orphans of Apollo coming together at the right moment in history.
We live in exciting times for space — and for Earth — and we may be on the brink of the expansion of humans into space, once and for all.Cislunar Economy
Water and other volatile materials will be limiting factors for human growth in space. Luna does not have all that is needed, nor does Mars — at least not in adequate quantities for the long term. Humans will have to move on to the asteroid belt (Ceres), and the outer planets and their moons — some of which seem to be very rich in water. Further out, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud provide more water and volatiles — albeit spread out over a very large volume.
The “Generation Ship” approach to human migration outside of the solar system, is an old idea, and probably best viewed as a last resort. If humans can ever build a self-sufficient large-scale orbiting space colony, then it is possible that they can build a viable generation ship. Alternatively, if humans can achieve a foolproof hibernation chamber that allows humans to survive in stasis for hundreds of years without appreciable harm, a “generation” ship would seem a more reasonable approach to long distance migration than it does now. The 2016 movie “Passengers” suggests reasons why someone on the ship should be awake at all times.
It should be obvious to readers that we are discussing plans for a human future that stretches far out in time — long after all of us are likely to be dead and forgotten. So either we need to invent some radical life extension technologies, or we need to learn to view our own deaths — and the deaths of everyone we know or can conceive of ever knowing — in a very philosophical manner. Humans tend to be short-term thinkers and planners, and generally scorn those who dream in the longer term.
And yet it is those who are capable of seeing and planning for the far horizons, who often initiate the chains of actions which allow enough humans to survive and move on from crisis to crisis.
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos each want to become the first $trillionaire king of space. It is the human impulse to wish to profit from opportunity and to achieve dominance over competitors. Up to this point, neither has been forced to deal with the dictatorial deal-killing instincts of governments and government officials — at least not in absolute terms. Eventually, one government or another will attempt to extort control from these would-be private enterprise space tycoons. China is in an excellent position to force concessions from private US companies, as long as it has friends in high places of the US government who can be easily manipulated.
Very few people can envision how the economies of the solar system can shift, given a very small number of breakthroughs and effective infrastructure building outside of traditional power zones.
Jeff Bezos talks about “trillions” of humans living in the solar system, with 1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins living and working among them. But just a few more breakthroughs and we can have 1,000,000 Einsteins and 10,000,000 Mozarts — if we want. What if the new infrastructures multiply the effective impact of each Einstein or Mozart by powers of ten? It will be a world and an economy that no one now can imagine.
On the other side of the coin, no one is willing to admit that it is possible to have quadrillions of humans existing in the universe, with not a single Mozart or Einstein among them. How is that possible? Think about it.