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Old 08-08-2019, 03:06 PM
Sam Stone is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 28,156
That's all great, except that it's science fiction. We have no extrapolative path today from what we are doing to having O'Neill cylinders at the Lagrange points.

Building colonies in space will require, at a minimum, a mass driver on the Moon. You would need thousands of workers on the Moon and many billions of dollars to build such a thing. You would need mass mining and refining of regolith for oxygen, aluminum, titanium, etc. For an atmosphere, you would need literally millions of tonnes of gases.

So the answer to 'where to go' is still the Moon. Maybe, one day in a few hundred or thousand years we will build colonies in space. But before we can do that, we'll need substantial investment and people on the Moon. And it's always possible that by the time we have those capabilities, O'Neill colonies won't look very enticing any more. If we can move around enough mass to build the things, and we are so good at working in space that we can construct entire colony habitats, we can probably do a lot of other things that might make more sense at the time.

In any event, building O'Neill cylinders and capturing volatiles by the billions of kg from carbonaceous chondrites is so far in the future that it has virtually no impact on the question at hand, which is "where should we start?"