>After the transport structure and habitats are constructed the humans
>could follow (if there are still any around, that is).
>Imho, manned spaceflight is only tolerable as long as it advances the
>state of the art/mobilizes the resources otherwise wasted elsewhere.
>If this sounds like pompous foolishness, I'd like to hear
I don't think this is foolish, but I think the build-now-inhabit-later scenario could prove limiting. I perceive space migration as a vital step in human survival, and the faster we can migrate, the better. Plus, the abundance of resources in space (once we start exploring in earnest) will help stimulate the very technologies that will allow for the kind of transhumanist habitat you envision. I think sending ourselves into space, cumbersome meat and all, will ultimately accelerate our transition from biological to postbioligical...and I wonder at the possibilities of nanotech in microgravity!
(I'm half done with Stephen Baxter's "Titan," which gives one of many reasoned perspectives on the manned/unmanned controversy.)