The Emergence of the Worldship (II): A Development Scenario
S. Ashworth (2012), JBIS, 65, 155-175
Keywords: Starship, worldship, interstellar travel, space technology, economic growth, energy growth
The worldship concept rests upon three broad areas of technology development: long-endurance life-support of an isolated human community, in-space infrastructure construction, and high-energy space propulsion. This paper presents a possible scenario for the future growth of a worldship capability in terms of a convergence of these three key technology areas. It is argued that progress in propulsion is likely to be faster than in developing permanent habitation in space, and that therefore the first worldships will be launched after a plateau in vehicle speeds has been reached. Such a plateau is likely to be enforced, not by technological limits, but by economic limits to the energy and power that can be invested in a single vehicle or fleet of vehicles.