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Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Self-Sustaining Colony


At what point is a colony self-sustaining?
One of my fears about going to a remote colony on another planet would be what would happen if the climate (political or financial) changed so that they would not be able to continually supply the colony?
The colony type of mind set and existence is a hard life to begin with, before you throw in the added factors of no sources of oxygen, water, or readily available food sources.  The sooner you could create some sort of large green houses to grow crops and grass and that you could support animals like cows, goats and chickens to supplement the food stores the sooner you could free yourself of the need of supply in those areas.
Another concern I would have would be economic viability.  If the colony could find a natural resource they could harvest and package into old supply containers to send back to earth that would make the colony more than an experiment but make it economically advantageous for Earth to continue sending ships with supplies and bringing the raw materials back to Earth.  This would actually facilitate the creation of freighters that would make regularly scheduled runs to the planet to even provide new people and take injured or aged people back to Earth along with the resources that generate the required revenue to make it not only self-sustaining but profitable.

You would want to have medical facilities to be able to take care of injured people, deliver babies, and provide general health care to the colonies inhabitants.
You would need some sort of law enforcement and security personnel at some point to protect the colony from misbehaving individuals and protect it from being taken over from other groups on Earth.  The threat of some competing group taking the colony over once it has been set up and established and using it for their our means or profit without the initial input and expense for the research, materials, time, and trouble of getting it up and running would be too great.  The group that started the enterprise would have invested too much to just let somebody take it over because of their lack of foresight to arm and secure the facility with some form of defensive capabilities.
To begin with entertainment would be old school to say the least.  In the beginning there would be more than work to do every day to keep everybody extremely busy.  Provided the foresight was included to build or materials provided to build further extensions of their human habitat for furthering the capabilities of the colony.  But how far do you go?  Do you provide a foundry?  Do you provide the capabilities for drilling for gas, oil, or water?  Would you provide means of creating Textile production?  Would you provide the means to process materials and create synthetic rubber from synthetic materials?
It would be like any one of dozens of games people play on their computers where you start with base resources and simple dwellings and build a civilization.  The colony’s sustainability would increase as the means of recreating technology and manufacturing the basic needs of the colony increased.  If the farm cell has sheep you could spin thread from the wool and loom material out of the thread to eventually make clothes.  The cows that are used for meat production would also have the hides made into leather for shoes or boots.  Spiders, moths and butterflies could be used for the creation of silk.  Bees would be needed to pollenate the crops and provide wax and honey.  You would find a resurgence of old technology mixed with cutting edge space age technology in order to survive and provide the basest of needs.

Water and air cleaning and reuse would have to be taken to extremes until sources for each could be created.  An Agriculture cell could actually use air high in carbon dioxide and provide fresh clean oxygen.  If a source was found for hydrogen and that mixed with the oxygen could provide fresh and new source for water.  Hydrogen cell electric power plants could not only provide electricity but give off and clean water, but I believe they use oxygen in the process.
I get excited just thinking through the possibilities for the future of mankind as we explore our galaxy, colonize other worlds, and create regular commerce with each of these new entities.  We are at the threshold of a new age of exploration and discovery.  Gene Roddenberry would be proud when we assemble the first star ship with a mix of people from all over the planet and send them on a mission to explore strange new worlds and boldly go where no one has gone before.
In a later post I will discuss the darker side of Space Exploration.  Right now, it’s only inhabited and exists in Science Fiction (books, television and movies) and created by the writers of this genre.
There was a premise brought out in the Star Trek Next Generation Series with the character known as Q where he reappears to offer the second in command of the Enterprise a chance to join the Q, because they discovered for all of man kinds inherent short comings we have a tremendous capacity to overcome obstacles, our will to survive, our capacity to love, and our natural genetic disposition for fighting that we have awesome potential!  I like to believe that mankind for all of its eons of fighting amongst ourselves and developing as a species has the means to rise above our pettiness, greed, hatred, intolerance, and most importantly the ignorance of our species to eventually evolve into something greater than we can imagine.
Have a Great Day!  Thanks for reading and sharing my thoughts and meanderings.

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