SPACE: O'Neill Colonies

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Fri, 12 Mar 1999 03:52:18 -0600

(WAS: SPACE/NET: Getting The Internet Off The Ground And Into Orbit)

Between that and the Space Hilton, this is one of the most heartwarming things I've heard in years. They want to start limited commercial flights in 2000!

As a Singularitarian, I'm not excited because of the economic benefits of asteroid mining or even lunar mining; I don't see that in a near-term time frame. The payload and cost-to-orbit looks like it might be economical for Solar Power Satellites, which could prove economically important. The main reason, of course, is the possibility of self-sustaining O'Neill or lunar colonies. Just in case I'm right and work too slow but Drexler's wrong and works too fast, you understand.

So my question is this: O'Neill colonies, capable of sustaining themselves with no help from Earth for at least a year, no sooner than 2002 and no later than 2013. Can It Be Done? How Much Will It Cost?

I'm assuming that we send up an independent nanotechnology lab. This way, even if someone cooks the Earth, they can duplicate the nanotech independently and go on to _Aristoi_ from there. This assumes that the first assembler either isn't a Deep Dark Secret or that the military labs have a continuous channel to space that they can use, in case of defeat, to altruistically transmit the Secret before being eaten. How Much Will It Cost?

This would really cover all the bases on (survival of humanity)/(Singularity); nuclear war leaves Australia (although the colonies are dead), nanowar leaves nanotech-enabled colonies.

--          Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.