If we assume the end game for space exploration is the permanent settlement outside Earth then, in my opinion, the strategy for achieving this goal should necessarily include as a first step assuring the self-sufficiency ...
If we assume the end game for space exploration is the permanent settlement outside Earth then, in my opinion, the strategy for achieving this goal should necessarily include as a first step assuring the self-sufficiency of the potential space colony. This means the colony should be able to produce all that is required for its life and existence. The alternative is everything needed for it to be transported from Earth, which would be too expensive and in a case of a cataclysm on Earth – impossible.
So the first stage of creating the Arc should be terrestrial! The main goal: To create a settlement on Earth (like a colony), which is able to supply itself with everything essential to life. We don’t need transport in Space for this, so it could’ve been started back in the sixties, but alas – it seems that we had other priorities at the time.
In any case the issue should be resolved, otherwise the habitations in space will not be able to come into existence. The degree of self-sufficiency can be expressed with a coefficient, which is equal to the ratio between the mass of produced goods in the colony and the mass of needed goods for its existence. Total self-sufficiency can be expressed as K=1 (100 %). If the colony is to thrive and grow, K should be at least slightly above 1.
If we look at the development of every part of the world (or creating habitations in the orbit of a planet), we shouldn’t forget that there are limitations for the size of the population like “above” and “below”. The threshold above is determined by the accessible resources and they, in turn – by the technological advancement of civilization. The threshold below represents the population needed to sustain the technological level for survival without assistance from outside. If the limitation “below” exceeds the limitation “above” then the colony isn’t in condition to continue its autonomous existence and without outside support it is doomed to failure. It is for a fact that we don’t currently know what is the limitation “below”. That’s why we need to clarify it by creating a self-supporting colony on Earth – a project that I call for 20 years “Technosphere-2”. This mean finding the minimal number of people needed to achieve full self-sufficiency – N min. With the development of robotics the threshold “below” will lower. Full automation of the production process through robotics will allow in the future for us to achieve N min = 0.
Creating such a settlement is within Asgardia’s capabilities. If only 1 out of 100 within those 180 000 people who have verified their citizenship agrees to participate in the project, that will be more than enough. It will be necessary for land to be bought, preferably with buildings for work and housing already existing there. There also needs to be a business plan created and the needed equipment to be delivered there. In the beginning many things will need to be bought from outside the city of course, so the colony will have to produce some sort of goods for the outside market in order to finance itself. But this shouldn’t be a problem since the proposition is for working people to gather and engage in many different fields. At least one of those should be profitable! Life will be the same as in any other populated place on Earth – everyone will ensure the well-being of themselves and their family through their work. We need a good businessman who can sell the products of the settlement to the outside market and to suggest that exactly can be produced and sold from there. The only difference is that everywhere else people are only interested in production and selling goods, while for us the most important is to ensure our survival and self-sufficiency with our labor and creativity at its highest degree.
How large of an area is needed for the colony? Where should it be? How should it be called? Those are questions for later. We need to start with the economical side of the matter because without it there won’t be neither science nor projects to be developed. That’s why the city on Earth should be first – it’s much less expensive than an orbital station.
I understand the desire of some to have their own independent territory on Earth or even a whole network of populated areas. But Asgardia is created with the conquest of Space in mind. Only one settlement is needed on Earth so we can refine the technology required for self-sufficiency. It can be built upon the territory of any country in the world. It will need to abide by the laws of this country of course but this won’t be a hindrance. It is preferable for be in a zone with moderate climate. We don’t want to model the life in Space, just the technology for self-sufficiency. Apart from the yield of raw materials, everything can be produced within the cosmic colony in relative comfort. About the harvesting of raw materials in Space – on the Moon, Mars or on asteroids – it is being developed elsewhere. It’s left to our earthly settlement to clear the rest of the technological issues.
I’m looking for volunteers for developing the project for this future settlement. More accurately – for its prototype, which will be only partially self-sufficient, but will have the need for us to buy everything that can’t be produced in it.
Things to consider:
The biggest part of the costs for supporting a family is for food – from 30 – 40 % for the richer countries to above 50 % in the poorer ones. And precisely food can be produced by relatively simple agricultural technologies, making it accessible to everyone.
Clothing, shoes, housing and communal expenses (electricity, water and others), furniture – again with accessible production technologies.
Electronics for everyday use – we enter the area of technology. In the early stages – simply assembling and repair of existing parts, and later on – manufacturing of the parts directly in the settlement.
Machines for production of everything described so far – firstly bought from outside sources, and later on – created on the spot.
The things left to be bought are the raw materials for production (metal, fuel and lubricating oil, chemicals and so on). We can try obtaining metals from their various ores and fuel and oil from raw petrol, but metallurgy and heavy chemistry are leading to possible pollution of the environment and we’ll need permission from the authorities of the country hosting the settlement.