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Thread: Motives for colonization of space

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    Motives for colonization of space

    All sorts of arguments and disagreements have sprung up about possible motives for off-world settlement. But who says there only has to be one? People often do things for different reasons. So let's hash out as many possible reasons as ...possible that people might want to live "where no one has lived before".

    1. Survival-- people might want to make sure at least some people survive a planetwide disaster.

    2. Fear-- individuals might want to make sure they personally survive a possible planetwide disaster.

    3. Religious or political isolationism-- some groups might want to start their own society well away from the influences of the rest of the world, or to flee persecution (real or percieved).

    4. Economic-- Assuming we someday create jobs above the stratosphere, and these jobs require a direct human presence, people go where the work is.

    5. Scientific-- Same as economic, but the job in question is SCIENCE!

    6. Religious/philosophic relation to space-- Some groups or individuals might believe that being in space has some direct benefit, such as making them closer to the cosmos/heaven/ET.

    7. Status-- The uber-rich might like to lord it over others by saying "my other house is also a space station".

    8. National status-- the Space Race-after-next might be to see who can establish the first viable colony.

    9. Fleeing disaster-- Assuming a planetwide disaster does occur, some may be able to escape.

    10. Exile-- space as Gulag.

    Note that I have deliberately avoided giving probabilities or timelines for each scenario; if you choose to do so, please include why you think so. Also, any other potential motivations are welcome, hopefully with explanations.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Space Tourism - kind of mix between your 4 & 7

    ETA: I think it (colonization) will only start if someone finds a way to make money with it.

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    Creativity/Wanderlust - a combo of 4 & 6, where people want a patch of land to call their own with a relative wealth of building material and none of the typical environmental restrictions, a blank slate.

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    I like to believe we will one day evolve a cohisive desire for exploration because we've run out of things to do on this small rock!

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    Military-control of the high ground

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    Quote Originally Posted by Commodore View Post
    Creativity/Wanderlust - a combo of 4 & 6, where people want a patch of land to call their own with a relative wealth of building material and none of the typical environmental restrictions, a blank slate.
    Hmm, if anything I'd think the environmental restrictions would be far stricter in a closed ecosystem.
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    Resources--either as a replacement source for depleted resources on Earth, or as a new source of needed resources/raw materials. This is could be related to #4-economic reasons.

    Or, population issues--people colonizing space simply because we've run out of room.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
    Military-control of the high ground
    Would a permanent manned presence be required for this? Or would they simply assign temporary personnel and swap them out as needed?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreH View Post
    Space Tourism - kind of mix between your 4 & 7
    Tourism usually implies a temporary visit, not colonization.
    Quote Originally Posted by AndreH View Post
    ETA: I think it (colonization) will only start if someone finds a way to make money with it.
    That's #4, economic motive.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by redshifter View Post
    Resources--either as a replacement source for depleted resources on Earth, or as a new source of needed resources/raw materials. This is could be related to #4-economic reasons.
    It could, but it need not necessarily require people; it depends on how well we develop automated methods.
    Quote Originally Posted by redshifter View Post
    Or, population issues--people colonizing space simply because we've run out of room.
    It would provide a place to get away from the crowds, though any space habitat would need to have some population control itself; you couldsn't build new habs as fast as the human population could double.

    Unless you mean reducing Earth's population by sending them into space: the math for that just wouldn't work out.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    I think "tourism" is the biggest one, but only in the sense that once you've got a permanent "space hotel" that gets re-supplied regularly, it's not a long step from there to having people who live permanently on that station.

    "Population" doesn't strike me as a good reason anymore unless someone invents an immortality drug in the near future. Birth rates worldwide have been declining as most of the Developing World goes through the Demographic Transition, while the Developed Countries went through it years ago (most of them, including the US, are below the Replacement Level in terms of birth rates without lots of immigration). Population is supposedly going to level off at around 9-10 billion sometime late in the 21st century.

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    You didn't list desire. Today, there are people who live in RVs and there are people who live in houseboats. There are people who retire to fancy island condos. This isn't because of some economic need or advantage, it's because of a desire.

    For many people, living in space or another planet is compellingly desirable. Outer space is exciting and romantic to many. Even if there aren't intrinsic jobs out there, it could still be a desirable place to retire to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Would a permanent manned presence be required for this? Or would they simply assign temporary personnel and swap them out as needed?
    That I suspect depends how far away from earth you are talking about, and how many space trained personnel you have. It mught be easier to establish a permanent garrison and establish civilian facilities to support them and send out families.

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    Tourism usually implies a temporary visit, not colonization.
    Yes, but you need people working there. So those could be the first collonists (thats 4).
    The reason for them to go there would be service for rich tourists. I am thinking of the first English tourists in the late 19th and early 20th century. Typically rich excentric people who had everything else. ETA: That would be 7

    That's #4, economic motive.
    Thats right. I should have said that to my opinion it will be 4 in first place. If no one will find a way to make money, nothing will happen.
    When I was younger I thought the awe of gaining new knowledge, looking for new frontiers (yes I like Star Trek TOS) would drive us. But we live in a worl where the first reaction to the latest Herschel findings in a none scientific/technology related forum is: "Why do scientists have to spent so much money to find out what is 174 light years away! They should use the money for reasonable things to solve problems down here"

    So things like desire, or boldly going where no men has gone before....I just don't believe it

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    Creating Beauty.
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in fact, until it is seen, beauty does not really exist. The nebula captured by Hubble were many things, but they were never beautiful until we saw them. The rusty, wind twisted landscape of Mars, the blue sapphire storms of Neptune, had only its physical properties until we sent a camera to see it.
    By expanding our presence in space, we are actively adding to its beauty.

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    1, 3, 5 and 7 catch my eye most. To create a new kind of world - if we are taking about space habitats as opposed to planetary ones. A big space habitat could be a truely uniqe environment, especially if it were designed with that type of ideal in mind.

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    Interesting thread, but for the foreseeable future, it is not enough to motivate a small section of the population. I think most of us here on BAUT would love to have a villa on Venus, a mobile home on Mars, a teepee on Titan or a veranda on Miranda. But we're talking about such astronomical expense that it's got to be whole populations who feel similarly motivated before we can even begin to think of it actually happening.

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    We do things on Earth that put all 9 billion people at risk. I say nine as persons who will be born the rest of this century are also endangered. The atomic bomb tests are a good example. Of course we take adequate precautions with present testing, but much of the public think we are lying, because we lied about the atomic bomb tests, aspertane, and fill in the blank.With research stations a million miles from any other population the risk to the general population is reduced.
    Usually unrelated, million of disabled persons have potential for a better life in reduced gravity. Neil

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    Well you know #4 - Economics, is what I believe needs to be the main motivation at the moment. Like AndreH explained, a lot of people beleive we should be spending our time and ressources solving our problems here on earth first. I.E. fixing the environment, obliterating famine, etc. I've also heard some people in the scientific community believing that we should first figure out everything we don't know about earth before studying the cosmos. That's why, at the moment, 5 - scientific, I don't think is enough.

    However, eventually #1 may be a realistic motivation. Steven Hawking explained that we can easily be wiped out as a human species and we need to go to the cosmos to survive as a species.

    Eventually, though, I think something like Over-Population and/or depletion of ressources may be enough to move us out there. We are adaptable. How far off this is, though, is the big question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreH View Post
    Space Tourism - kind of mix between your 4 & 7

    ETA: I think it (colonization) will only start if someone finds a way to make money with it.
    That was a major motivation for the British settlement of North America and everybody's colonization of the New World. Be a lot tougher with no natives to exploit, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post

    1. Survival-- people might want to make sure at least some people survive a planetwide disaster. Provided an impending disaster is known.

    2. Fear-- individuals might want to make sure they personally survive a possible planetwide disaster. See above.

    3. Religious or political isolationism-- some groups might want to start their own society well away from the influences of the rest of the world, or to flee persecution (real or percieved).Pretty expensive undertaking for a group not likely to be resource/cash flush.

    4. Economic-- Assuming we someday create jobs above the stratosphere, and these jobs require a direct human presence, people go where the work is.Possibly the best reason given thus far.

    5. Scientific-- Same as economic, but the job in question is SCIENCE!Permanent residence unlikely, probably not even effective. Orbital and extraorbital science does quite well without immediate hands on intervention.

    6. Religious/philosophic relation to space-- Some groups or individuals might believe that being in space has some direct benefit, such as making them closer to the cosmos/heaven/ET. Suicidal transcendance has thus far proven a more economical method of travelling beyond for these types...

    7. Status-- The uber-rich might like to lord it over others by saying "my other house is also a space station".Richard Branson channels Xander Drax? Give Bigelow a chance, he'll make this one happen in our lifetimes.

    8. National status-- the Space Race-after-next might be to see who can establish the first viable colony.Once the current economic instability passes, perhaps. Or if the Chinese really start getting shady up there.

    9. Fleeing disaster-- Assuming a planetwide disaster does occur, some may be able to escape. See #1

    10. Exile-- space as Gulag.Executions are far more cost effective, even with millions spent on obligatory legal defense through all stages of appeal.
    Responses in red.

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    Provided an impending disaster is known.
    Not necessarily, it could be planned on the basis of exctinction events that will happen eventually-- asteroid strikes, supervolcanoes, etc.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Not necessarily, it could be planned on the basis of exctinction events that will happen eventually-- asteroid strikes, supervolcanoes, etc.
    In theory, yes, but given an ordinary day with the expectation of an ordinary century or more, a pure survival driven colony will probably be pretty low on the priority scale for space colonization. I think your resource/economic reasons will be the most likely driver for colonization until an impending disaster is identified which motivates broader action. We here have the luxury of taking that kind of long view of the species, but the real world funding and undertaking will be done at the behest of political creatures who's concept of "long view" runs in terms of election cycles and believe an ounce of timely reactionary response is worth a ton of votes in the next election.

    IF such a colony ends up happening in the early days of the colonization push off world, it will most likely be a #7 colony with a side order of #1. Paranoid and wealthy will have to drag along their legions of schlubs to serve them in their orbital/extraterrestrial palaces, otherwise, what's the point of being on top of the social ladder without a back or two to step on?

    Just to clarify, I don't intend this to be a sarcastic response to you, personally. Any sarcasm detected herein is directed soley at the very well documented and ingrained selfish nature of the human animal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doodler View Post
    In theory, yes, but given an ordinary day with the expectation of an ordinary century or more, a pure survival driven colony will probably be pretty low on the priority scale for space colonization. I think your resource/economic reasons will be the most likely driver for colonization until an impending disaster is identified which motivates broader action. We here have the luxury of taking that kind of long view of the species, but the real world funding and undertaking will be done at the behest of political creatures who's concept of "long view" runs in terms of election cycles and believe an ounce of timely reactionary response is worth a ton of votes in the next election.

    IF such a colony ends up happening in the early days of the colonization push off world, it will most likely be a #7 colony with a side order of #1.
    That's why I didn't give any timeline, or specify the current political/economic situations or early or late colonization periods. I'm even willing to accept that, at some distant point when space colonization becomes cheap enough, "beauty" and "desire" might be motives enough for some to live in space.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Well, for whatever reasons we do it, I hope we do it. Mind is too beautiful a thing to me to want to see it die because a rock falls from the sky, or because the sun decides to quit on us, or some other disaster.

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    I'm certain that, assuming we survive long enough, someone will do it. Whether it's NASA, ESA, a private company or group, China, some combination of them, or the successor civilization after the collapse of this one, sooner or later we will expand beyond this one planet.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Freedom- any new frontier gives opportunites that aren't available in older better established societies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I'm certain that, assuming we survive long enough, someone will do it. Whether it's NASA, ESA, a private company or group, China, some combination of them, or the successor civilization after the collapse of this one, sooner or later we will expand beyond this one planet.
    I hope so.
    Looking at this world from a distance is a humbling experience. It's kind of like when you finally grow up and realize your parents weren't so bad after all.
    Earth has been our parent for over three billion years.
    Many creatures have roamed this blue jewel.
    Some have crawled, others have run, and some have soared within these skies.
    And now, for likely the first time, one may be on the verge leaving the nest, to reach out to other worlds, to explore those places unknown, seeking a new life and creating a new kind of civilisation. But even as the centuries flow by, even if we change ourselves to new forms to adapt to new environments, even if by some miracle, we should outlast the sun itself, let us always remember this precious world, this First Home.
    Remember to say "Thank you."

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    Another motive I missed is from the Nasa space settlement website: low or zero G might be easier for the handicapped or elderly to get around in.
    Personally I find this one a little iffy: the physical effects of longterm microgravity are fairly well known and are not beneficial. However, maybe a compromise like half-G would work, as it would mean dragging around half your normal weight; still easier than one full Earth gravity. We'll have to wait until we can get out there and experiment to find a safe lower limit.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by starcanuck64 View Post
    Freedom- any new frontier gives opportunites that aren't available in older better established societies.
    The problem is cost. When the American continent was colonized. People typically could do that by selling everything they had, buying a wagon two oxen and supplies. And ofcourse they had to take the risk.
    There are two big main differences between that and colonizing space:

    First: Selling everything you have will not even buy you a ticket to the ISS for 10 days. (That is at least true for 99% of the population of this planet).
    Second: Given the technology we have today, there will be no water, no air and no food available on the way. Even there (where ever "there" is) you will find no natural recources. The next place for that is the Asteroid belt, I guess.
    I see absolutely no chance that people looking for a new kind of freedom will go there if not someone needs them as workers. Those who could afford it, can buy themselves the freedom they want here on Earth, already.

    Bottom line:
    I don't say freedom is not a motivation, but as long as no one finds a way to make money out there, nothing will happen. So we are back to #4 again.

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