Planning For The Future
In my research to prepare for the writing of the book and building this website, I looked at the current spate of contenders, (Mars Drive, Mars Inspiration, Mars One) for inspiration. But even so, I understood that any foray into space to place human beings permanently into settlements must assume first, that there would be many to follow. This is different than the current set of plans that take it one step at a time, waiting to evaluate, and ultimately change most of the mission parameters with each iteration. Not so with EarthSeed.
First, the plan wasn’t for not just a handful of people, but potentially hundreds of settlers living on the Moon, Mars, and Callisto at Jupiter in less than ten (10) years. Now that’s aggressive. See the Aggressive Launch Schedule here.
Second, when sending people just to the Moon, they have to be able to go with enough materiel to survive … period. That means enough gear that they never NEED a supply ship again. Surviving “off the land” just like the early american pioneers of the 1800’s did, and the colonists of the 1600’s. That means all, or nearly all of their time will be spent “on the farm”, or mining, or keeping up the “farmhouse” that is their habitat. These are not science missions.
Third, history shows that for a settlement to thrive, there must be trade, economic benefit to being there that is shared with customers “back home”. A business case for going in the first place. Sending a couple of astronauts to vacation for 4-6 weeks and return home has nothing to do with settling space. Building an economy from resources on the settlement frontier does.
Fourth, history also shows that for that settlement to thrive, economic ties must be established and maintained with the “home country”. This means identifying products and services the moon will provide that Earth, vis-a-vis orbiting stations, can use. Air, water, food, and fuel are the greatest portion of every cargo shipment to the ISS. So far, indications are that these four could be provided from a lunar settlement at a cost potentially 1/4 to 1/10 of the cost of lifting that material from the Earth. That differential represents a substantial boon to the settlers … assuming there is an orbiting station (or more) to service. We are hopeful that settlers making these four necessities available can open the frontier quickly, efficiently, and at far lower cost than any plan currently being proposed.
In planning for broad based settlement of the frontier that is space, one cannot assume planning for individual destinations with architectures that are uniquely designed for each destination. This type of planning creates the slow, plodding development we have seen for the last 40+ years.
The EarthSeed Architecture assumes from the start that our methodology must function (admittedly with minor adjustments) equally well for each of the six destinations we have identified. The requirements are 1) rocky, 2) geologically stable crater or cliff walls, 3) reasonable proximity to potential water-ice.
That being said, the transit from Earth’s proximity outwards to the other five destinations is problematic at best. For the settlements to have sufficient personnel to accomplish what is needed on arrival, they must survive that transit. There are existing technologies that we will be discussing that can be brought to bear to address, and reduce our exposure to the challenges we face.
Survive or Die Paradigm
When European’s were loaded aboard ship for the trip to the New World they did so with a minimum of supplies, tools, and animals. The ships that carried them across the Atlantic were miniscule by comparison to the behemoths that ply the sea routes today. Also, when the American Pioneers set off across the plains for the west, their accomodations paralleled those of the early colonists, i.e. a single wagon or handcart to haul the absolute minimum to survive through to their destination. EarthSeed has adopted the same approach. Our first teams will depart Earth with all the supplies they will need for a six-month sojourn on the Moon: air, water, food rations, as well as fish, animals, seeds, mushrooms, bamboo, and other cooperative “life forms”.
In the early settlements, water was crucial. It was often rationed – especially in the hot and dry climates of the west. But we have learned much since those “primitive” times. Current techniques in aquaculture provide hope that in a closed environment, the interdependent species can recycle nearly all of the air, water, and food our settlers will carry. Notice that I said nearly all.
Science has taught us that every system, no matter how big or small leaks. The system – or biome – experiences losses of air and water, our two most important components. This is one reason that they go with six months supply of food rations. When they arrive, and set up the biome with its animals, plants, and other creatures, the plan is to be harvesting their first crops of food in four months.
If successful, the second and following teams will know that the settlement can and will be viable, and over the course of the first year, begin to develop exports that can then take them beyond survival to thriving, and ultimately to community with Earth and economic ties that generate business, and …. money, or rather, ROI – return on investment.
The Business Case
Any plan for moving humanity into the frontier of space must be able to gradually take over all of the expenses for its survival, and growth. All of the current plans anticipate that Earth will have to spend trillions of dollars over 50 or 100 years shipping supplies to those outposts. This is not only plain crazy, but ignores the basic principles of growth in a society.
There must be commerce to generate a return on investment. Period. Without commerce, there can be no settlements. The frontier will remain a gleam in the eyes of humanity forever.
In order for there to be commerce, someone must acknowledge the needs that exist currently and provide a path for selling what is needed to the customers. Space-based habitats will forever require supply shipments. Mining of asteroids will require air, food, water, and fuel to maintain the extended periods away from Earth that will be necessary for efficient mining operations. As the Lunar Settlement grows, it will add industrial capacity that will make it a hub for spare parts, and manufactured goods that are already cost prohibitive to ship from Earth.
An initial settlement on the Moon presents the opportunity of the Eon – getting in on the ground floor of eventually moving millions of humans off Earth and into space and its settlements, not to mention the millions that will be born on those settlements.
The commerce that is established between the Lunar Settlement and Earth Orbit will be the foundation of the space-based economy, an economy that will ultimately dwarf our world’s economy, like our Sun dwarfs this Earth.
The Future Is Out There!