8 things we can do now to build a space colony this century

1.Develop 3D printing in space

The rocket engine and 3D printing technology are the two inventions that will eventually make space settlement possible. With 3D printing you can make all the spare parts you need locally. A colony cannot survive if it is dependent upon a supply chain from Earth.

2. Save Earth

The most important thing we can do to be prepared for any activity far in the future is try not to wipe out life here. Until now other planets were not particularly hospitable. It’s pretty clear that the vast majority of humanity will stay on Earth. So, the defining challenge of the next century is to come to grips with creating a sustainable future here, as a minimum precursor to building a sustainable future anywhere els—É.

3. Figure out how ecosystems work

If we’re going to live in space, we need to understand the fundamentals of how ecosystems work. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves with nothing to eat. Scientists are realizing that it’s more and more difficult to make an ecosystem from nothing, and to know how exactly the new ecosystem might work. There are just so many details and parts in an ecosystem that we don’t understand yet.

4. Change the way the U.S. government plans space missions

If the nation decides to begin a space colony outside of low Earth orbit, you need to talk about changing the way NASA does business. Currently, NASA engages in a capabilities-based and/or “flexible path” approach in which technologies are developed with no specific set of missions in mind. Future missions are then selected/favored based on what you can do with the technologies.

5. Let space tourists take vacations in orbital hotels

People interested in commercializing space want to build small hotel rooms in orbit. We already a have commercial space launch industry, so why not to do that. We’ve got SpaceX supplying the space station. They could put people in orbit for a weekend in 5-10 years. Yes it would be expensive, but there is a market at any price point for putting people in orbit.

6. Educate people about our connection to space

The task is to get people to feel that we, like our ancestors, are linked to the stars above, not just the ground beneath our feet. And to know that what we prepare now builds the future. If we are to have any hope of having a robust, healthy nation of humans living, working, growing up and excelling happily in space we have to reconnect people here on Earth today with their ancient space heritage.

7. Study how DNA repairs radiation damage

To colonize another planet, you need to focus on biology. The best way to deal with radiation is to take nutrients that will protect you, like antioxidants. Of course, you need the right ones. NASA and other groups have shown that there are a lot of nutrients blueberries, and more efficient ones, that will protect you against radiation. It won’t stop radiation, but it can mitigate the effects. When radiation enters your body, some of it damages your DNA by direct ionization and there’s nothing we can do about that.

8. Build a giant sun umbrella with robots

The giant sun umbrella at L1, 930,000 miles away will be far enough that teleoperated robots controlled from a local station shielded against solar storms and cosmic rays might do much better then robots with a 10 second response leg controlled from earth, and that might be a vastly cheaper way of dealing with global warming successfully then hoping for the nuclear/better solar fairies to show up.

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