The Long-Term Growth Prospects for Planetary and Space Colonies
S. Ashworth (2012), JBIS, 65, 200-217
Keywords: Planetary colonies, space colonies, space habitats, future of mankind, industrial growth
In order to live and function, multicellular creatures such as human beings need land area with gravity, an atmosphere and plentiful liquid water. The resources of the Solar System offer opportunities for extraterrestrial colonisation at locations where these basic services may be found or engineered. Two different patterns of activity are possible: planetary versus space colonisation, and these are compared. It is concluded that space colonisation, based on asteroidal resources, offers a prospect of growth greater than that of planetary settlement by three orders of magnitude, as well as a better springboard to growth on an interstellar scale. The space-based rather than planet-based mode of technological life is therefore likely to predominate in the long-term future of successful industrial species.