COLONIZATION: Forget Mars, Let's Colonize Earth!

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Thu Feb 01 2001 - 10:08:20 MST

Here is an idea that I have been toying with recently. We have
earth-based frontiers that can be reached cheaper and earlier than
space-based frontiers. These might serve as practice areas where we
can demonstrate viable space technologies in a safer environment.
People could visit or study these environments to see what works and
what doesn't. We can then adapt these technologies to space. Those
that already live in these environments will already be experienced
colonists in hostile environments.

For example, bases on the Moon, Mars or the Asteroids might be
underground to escape from radiation. Could we build an underground
city? I'm thinking about deep underground, at least thousands of
feet and maybe much more. We would have to learn to tunnel from
inside the base, shore up as we go, keep air-tight (or water-tight)
as we go. We would need to maintain temperature balance and oxygen
levels. We could try to use biosphere-type balancing to keep up
levels. We would have to develop remote telecommuting for jobs
outside the base, or develop our own means of business from within
the base. We would have to learn to grow plants without natural
sunlight. We would have to adapt to living underground without going
topside. This would develop and demonstrate many requirements for
underground space bases, but would be close enough to earth for
visiters to see and to evacuate in case of emergency. Maybe the
technology developed there could be patented or somehow sold to help
fund and advance space colonization.

Many of the Gas Giants planets have oceans within their moons. Could
we create an undersea base in the middle of some ocean? We would
have to adapt to the cold and dark. We would need to adapt to the
pressure and build structures for that environment. These would have
to resist corrosion from constant water contact. We would need to
have regular access to the outside environment. We would try to
figure out how to grow plants in the cold, dark water. We would need
wetsuits that were heated, and would need to carry our own oxygen.
We would want to learn to extract oxygen from the water, and safely
use hydrogen fuel. We would need to figure out a means of waste
disposal that didn't contaminate the water around the base. We even
would have to explore and contend with new types of marine life not
seen topside. (Scientist estimate that most deep-sea marine life has
not been observed.) We would have to learn to anchor our bases to
wet and possibly unstable surfaces. We would need to develop water
craft for transportation, and develop tools and building materials
that work underwater.

I think these two ideas merit further attention. I predict that
underground or undersea colonies would occur before colonizing other
worlds. I also think that the technologies developed in these two
environments would be a precursor to space colonies. These colonists
would be seen as the forerunners of space colonists. They may even
invent the technologies required for space colonization, and may
provide the largest number of space emigrants. Any exports developed
from these frontiers would be much easier to ship topside for profit.
We could develop more efficient and more profitable exports later for
overcoming the long-distance shipping to earth that space colonies
would encounter.

Harvey Newstrom <>

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