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Re: starship-design: Infrastructure in space [was: FTL travel...]

> From owner-starship-design@lists.uoregon.edu Fri Apr 21 17:29:04 2000
> From: Curtis Manges <clmanges@worldnet.att.net>
> > Of course, you are right, Kelly, when speaking of building
> > a single orbital station (or possibly even some tens of them),
> > or a single interstellar ship (and unmanned for that -
> > you cannot send people for tens of years journey through space without
> > prior experience with long-living self-sufficient space habitats).
> > However, the really permanent presence of mankind in space
> > (including long-duration long-range interstellar travel)
> > cannot be assured without building industrial and settlement
> > infrastructure in space (meaning outside Earth) as well.
> > You better start to think how to build it as fast as possible,
> > instead of finding only excuses for postponing it toward some
> > "better future". Otherwise, the "better future" never happens...
> This is all going to be tricky, I think. The commercial/industrial-scale
> infrastructure will be needed to establish and maintain settlement 
> and profitability, but nobody will want to pay for it all up front, 
> and I don't see how it could become profitable until it's established -- 
> a catch-22 of sorts. 
Exactly. It is the biggest problem on the way to make mankind 
a truly spacefaring civilization. One possibility seems to be 
a happy event of some new space industry popping up - such that 
it is profitable up front, as operated from Earth, but at some time 
of its development it is found to become even more profitable 
when it starts using space resources - enough so to justify 
the next big investment in, say, asteroid mining or something. 
What kind of an industry it could be?
Nobody knows as for now, I am afraid. Clarke back in the fifties
thought it will be large manned geosynchronous commsats - but it 
fizzled, as miniaturization, automation, and reliability of electronics 
made human crews redundant. Currently many look with hope 
towards space tourism - but I am not so sure here...
Others wait for development of nanotechnology, as it is going to make
space exploration much cheaper (but, on the other side, advanced
unmanned exploration will be then even cheaper and more reliable...).
Any other ideas?

> But once it is established, there will be 
> a market shift; first profits will go dirtside to pay the investment, 
> but then the settlement will become its own internal market,
> like a new country, and these profit exchanges will overlap somewhat.
> This brings up a question of law and administration, of course, 
> and who has rights to what. That will be a simple matter of contract 
> and treaty _until_ someone up there sees that they have the resources 
> to become autonomous; then the real fun begins.
Yeah, look at the Robinson's Mars trilogy...
[Though, generally, I am of rather low opinion about the book - possibly
exaggerated by the awfully made Polish translation I have read...]

> It really looks as if someone's going to have to grab their 
> bootstraps and give a good yank . . .
So, ahoy, all crew on the desk!  ;-))
[Sorry, I do not know the proper English maritime command language ;-))].

-- Zenon Kulpa