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Old 08-08-2019, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post
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?"
lol, it's ALL science fiction at this point. Even your proposals for mining on the Moon are only theoretical at this stage. We have worked with, on small scales, regolith analogs, and we've been to the Moon so know a bit about what's there, but we haven't actually tried to build any of this yet, so it's all theoretical science fiction. Also, the OP didn't ask where we should start, the OP asked what's the best place for a self sufficient colony. And I don't think that is the Moon. I agree, we will start with the Moon...I expect both mining and resource exploration and exploitation as well as things like research bases to be there. And probably a good number of people, though nothing like a colony, and probably nothing like thousands, at least not on the time scale you are talking about if we aren't talking hundreds of years. Automation is going to be in heavy use, IMHO, on any sort of Moon mining operation, with a few humans to support that. But if we are talking about several hundred years down the road, I think the best place to colonize will be something like O'Neal cylinders or their equivalent.

The thing is, if you went back, say, 200 years ago, and asked folks about transshipping the levels of material they do today, what do you suppose their answers would be? Or transshipping the levels of goods and materials we currently do across the continent, or Europe, Asia or where ever. You make billions of kg sound like it's impossible, but you need to put that figure in context. We ship, world wide, over 200 million cargo containers alone, each one weighing many tons...and that's only a fraction of the total. Shipping even one of those 200 or 300 years ago would be a huge challenge. We aren't even at the point of having small colonies in the new world level yet wrt space. But in 200 or 300 years? People would probably be laughing at the notion that shipping a few billion kg of whatever through space is some insurmountable, impossible dream.

That's what happens when you let rednecks play with anti-matter!