• To the Moon and Beyond

To the Moon and Beyond

Now that we can drink our whiskey in space there is nothing holding us back from space colonisation. Ok, just kidding. But now that have found water on Mars, the possibility of living on Mars has become a lot more real. The discovery, along with the serendipitous release of the movie The Martian will spark will spark a revival of public interesting in living on Mars. Along with technological advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics, and 3D printing we can really start too look towards space colonisation. The question is no longer if or when we will live in space, but where we will live in space.

Ballantine’s Space Glass

One of the most well known recent projects to colonise Mars is Mars One, a non-profit project that sets out to send the first humans to colonise Mars by 2026 through permanent settlement. Before humans will make their way to Mars cargo shipments will bring the supplies for the outpost to mars which will be assembled by two rovers. With settlers already signing up for their one way ticket the project is one of the most ‘real’. But the program has also received a lot of criticism, two MIT scientists have run some feasibility tests and concluded that with the current plan the settlers would die after just 68 days on Mars. Bas Lansdorp, CEO of Mars One has had to admit the plan is mostly fiction. But there is still hope, NASA is also working towards colonising Mars. Last week the winner of the 3D printed Habitat challenge has been announced. The challenge set out a challenge for contestants to develop a vision of shelters for human habitation on Mars constructed by autonomous habitat manufacturing machines. “The goal of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is to foster the development of new technologies necessary to additively manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials."

But Nasa isn't just working on the colonisation of Mars, it also looking at the Moon. Using the same habitat manufacturing machines (robots) as means to build habitats on the Moon (and eventually far beyond the Moon and Mars). Nasa is mainly eyeing the Shackleton crater, which is about twice as big as Washington D.C.. Water has already been found inside the crater and NASA expects to be able to build a habitat using solar powered robots. The first challenge is to build reflective robots that redirect sunlight from the peeks into the crater. If these robots can be developed the plan to colonise the moon can proceed. And, once reusable space crafts are developed, colonising the moon will be a lot cheaper than we initially thought. Once colonised the moon can also be used as a base for further space travel.

Moon colony, image produced for NASA by Pat Rawlings 1995

And then there are the orbital space stations like the space colony in the movie Elysium. Based on the Stanford torus designed by NASA. But the Elysium design could serve as a model, the designers for the movie have made very precise calculations using the number of residents to create a realistically sized virtual model of the space station. Agricultural advancements, such as aquaponics, make it possible to cultivate ‘food’ without using earth’s soil, so that the future space inhabitants can enjoy the same foodture as humans on Earth.

While Mars, the Moon, and orbit seem to be the most likely possibilities, theoretical astrophysicist have recently ‘discovered’ that many earth like planets in other solar systems in our universe previously though to be inhabitable may be habitable after all. It was assumed that these planets didn't rotate, leaving one side permanently facing their sun and one permanently dark (read: scorching hot dessert on one side, freezing arctic conditions on the other) but this assumption now appears to be false. Only hurdle left is making space ships that travel faster so they can actually get us there.

“Please prepare for warp”

Let us be kind. Source: Seattle Humor