RE: SPACE: How hard IS it to get off Earth?

Billy Brown (
Sat, 13 Nov 1999 18:23:04 -0600

Eric Watt Forste wrote:
> I think Lee Daniel Crocker is quite right in pointing out that we have few
> clues how to maintain a biosphere capable of supporting a human society
> indefinitely offplanet. More fullscale biosphere closure experiments are
> needed, and *much* more information is needed about species (bacterial and
> otherwise) symbiotic with human beings, and our ability to get along
> them in the Long Run. Symbiosis includes not only endosymbiosis, but for
> example the "air-scrubbing" soil bacteria that were used in
> Biosphere 2.

I think you both overestimate the problem. Building a 'natural' biosphere is well beyond our current knowledge, but we don't need to do anything of the sort for life support. Providing air, water and climate control requires only mechanical systems and a decent energy source. Providing food is simply a matter of growing crops, which is something we do know a lot about.

Mind you, I do think we would be wise to do everything we can to maximize the colony's resources in this regard. We should take along a good assortment of experts in related fields, as well as a good variety of plant and insect species (no 'one person growing one crop' scenarios, please - we don't want the colony to fail because we happened to pick the one plant that doesn't adapt well to low gravity). However, I see no reason to think that moving food production into space will be anywhere near as difficult as creating an entire biosphere.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I