Worldly Talk

Civil discussion and debate on real world events and issues.

Xavier Dumusque's Alpha Centauri

Originally Posted by Naleh View Post
Exactly. They can't colonise the planet so much as set up a self-sustaining enclosed dome on its surface or somesuch. (Which they certainly can do they presumably had a self-sustaining ship, after all.) This doesn't provide a mass emigration destination, it doesn't provide humanity resources, and it doesn't even provide science experiments that we can't do in our own solar system. Now, I'm as sentimental about exploring the universe as anyone, but at any believable technology level* this seems like enormous trouble to stick some people on a distant world where they'll do little more than live out the rest of their lives.[/SIZE]
I think that popping out domes all over new planet surface counts as colonization anyway. It would only look worse on your CV than terraforming.

The question here is whether you can send enough machines to get a base that can quickly develop on its own and would not face any serious constraints. This can be either achieved by miniaturisation or simply sending big enough ships.

Possible gains:
-back up for our civilization;
-possibility to grow for our civilization further;
-source of interesting data; (deeply explored local environment and in long run simply more people living there and performing more experiments - matter of economics of scale)

However, sure that's far future. First we will:
1) tap the least welcoming places on Earth (ex. expect a rush for natural gas and oil in polar region)
2) then setting some scientific outpost on the Moon and maybe also Mars
3) then starting to sending mining expeditions to asteroids
4) then starting to seriously colonize Mars and the Moon
5) then look for some more exotic places to look for resources (like giant nuclear fusion Zeppelins circulating gas giants)
6) then go to stars

The believable (understood as that what will happen during our lives) is somewhere around late 1 and presumably 2.

If you could get 3D printing to the point where it can print while smelting ores, and stick a bunch of solar-powered automated ones on a few big ferrite asteroids to print out ships and components, you could colonize the solar system (or at least the inner stuff) in a decade or so. Outer stuff is dependent on transportation/speed issues.


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