How to colonize the galaxy in eight easy steps!
In his book The Millennial Project, originally published in 1992 (later editions have a foreword by Arthur C. Clarke), Marshall T. Savage details his vision of the further development of the human race in the (then) coming millenium. He describes why humanity must leave the cradle of earth, and how it can be profitable to do so. To develop into space, and start colonizing the solar system and finally, the galaxy, eight basic steps are proposed, and given mystic but fitting titles: Aquarius, Bifrost, Asgard, Avalon, Elysium, Solaria, Galactica and Foundation. I include basic outlines in this node, but will node the concepts in greater detail in the corresponding nodeshells...
The first step to colonizing space is ironically right here on earth. Savage proposes building hexagonal maritime colonies in extraterritorial waters that would harvest spirulina algae to solve the world food problem, and produce large amounts of energy using about Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power plants to be used in the next step. Although the way of building these colonies needs revising, the general principle seems sound.
Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge connecting Midgard (Earth) and Asgard (Godshome) in nordic myth, will be the primary way of launching objects into space cheaply. Savage proposes building a earth based mass driver launching ramp at an equatorial mountain, preferably Mt. Kilimanjaro, and then using lasers powered by the various Aquarius habitats for the last push. Originally, the book proposed sending up humans that way too, but this has been proven impossible due to the immense G-Forces during the launch (10 G on average with a 255 G peak at the curve), so it would only be viable to launch objets. The main point is that it is necessary to reduce launch costs dramatically in order to further develop space. The lasers would shine in different colours, lighting up the sky the way Bifrost was described...
Using the cheap launches Bifrost
(home of the gods in nordic mythology) would be built, a spherical golden city in space,shielded by water and providing it's own sustenance using spirulina algae
grown in the water tanks. The city would be Zero-G
and could provide cheaper orbital service than satellites would. Asgard would be our first waystation into space, but also home to a new breed of humans.
Using the principles of Asgard, mankind could then start colonizing the moon, doming lunar craters the same way Asgard was built. The moon could be mined, and materials for new Asgards launched by mass drivers. Illumination and energy would be provided by satellites at the L1 and L2 points.
The Greek paradise symbolizes the colonization of our planetary neighbor, the Mars
. It would be terraform
ed using greenhouse gases
(particularly water vapor) to heat the planet and using green plants to make the air breatheable. This would take some time, so the domed environments already used on the Moon will also make do on Mars. Preceding all this is settlement of colonies in the Earth-crossing asteroids and particularly the ones that cross the orbits of both Earth and Mars. Another dream of humanity would be fulfilled. But humanities destiny does not end here...
In the mean time, while Mars is being terraformed, further and bigger Asgards would be built, extending ever farther from Earth. In time, the asteroid belt,moons of other planets, and finally, even the Oort cloud would be settled, making humanity a full Kardashev Level 2 civilization that uses all the energy of the sun and all resources of it's home systems. This process would take up the rest of the millenium. By the year 3000, billions of billions of humans could be living in the solar system, utilizing the majority of the available resources ofor home system.
And then, humanity is ready to spread the concept to the stars. Like in a pyramid scheme
, humanity would build numbers of seed ships
to colonize other systems. At this point, planets would not be necessary anymore for human life as life in space has become the majority of human life by far. So humanity could literally colonize every stellar system in the galaxy, achiving Galactica
The last chapter details the first step on the way towards space. Savage believes in a privately organized foundation of those willing to make the dream come true. Excluding governments and companies, he conjures up an utopian society of selfless individuals working on realizing the project on every step, a commune of scientists and explorers working not for their own good, but for that of their children exclusively, creating a model society for later colonies. To be honest, I don't see that happening, and all the Living Universe Foundation (formerly First Millenial Foundation) has achieved so far is talking and dreaming, judging from their website (http://www.luf.org).
The key point of this book is that it details a uplifting vision of mankinds future. Savage revitalizes the vision of man's destiny in space, a vision that has moved from the public eyes in the last decades. It captures the imaginations of the reader, and urges them to support this vision. Even if some of the minor details are simplyfied, or not viable exactly as portrayed, the basic principles are sound, workable and not just science fiction, and are further expanded upon in the 100 pages of annotations and reference materials attached at the end of the book. But some points, such as the foundation part, are to utopian in my view, especially as communism doesn't work for most humans, and progress might be quicker by convincing companies that there is money to be made in every single step. I still whole-heartedly recommend the book. Read it for the simple exhilaration of a broad but pragmatic view of what we human beings, representing life itself, could do in the next hundred, thousand, or million years if only we really put our minds to it. A nice site to check out as well for pictures of the variouis stages is located at http://oceania.org/mall/millimag.html.
"Our solar system will be transformed. It will be as different from the sterile void as the Earth is from the Moon. Just as Life transformed a molten ball of rock into Gaia, the living planet; it will soon transform a frozen disk of orbiting rubble into Solaria, the living solar system."