I can get really snarky about the Space Force. This is for a couple reasons. Firstly, it’s ridiculous, particularly in light of the former Israeli space security chief who says a “galactic federation” of extraterrestrials exist, earthlings have been in contact with them, and Donald Trump has been briefed on the matter. Maybe that’s why Trump created Space Force with an insignia clearly lifted from Star Trek?
But the main reason I get snarky about Space Force is because I sincerely believe that it’s possible for humans to be a multi-planet species. I genuinely would love to see humans establish a colony in orbit, or on Mars or the Moon, and maybe even further out in our solar system.
I’m certainly not alone. Space travel has been a dream of earthlings for centuries. In 1610 Johannes Kepler speculated to Galileo, “As soon as somebody demonstrates the art of flying, settlers from our species of man will not be lacking on the moon and Jupiter.”
The first person to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong, humbly pointed out the implications of his achievement: “In my own view, the important achievement of Apollo was a demonstration that humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.”
But it was iconic science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke who put it best: “If man survives for as long as the least successful of the dinosaurs—those creatures whom we often deride as nature’s failures—then we may be certain of this: for all but a vanishingly brief instant near the dawn of history, the word ‘ship’ will mean— ‘spaceship.’ “
But, listen, I read comic books and love Star Wars. Yet I certainly don’t harbor Pollyanna thoughts that real-life humans will achieve lightspeed travel or wormhole time-bending science fiction that involves superpowers.
Instead of daydreams and silly thoughts that expect our favorite sci-fi shows to be rooted in realism, it’s important to follow the science here. There are hard physics at play when it comes to the reality of humans colonizing Mars, and we all know it’s closer to the hard burns and asteroid mining of The Expanse than it is to Stargates.
So, who understands these hard physics at play? Well, astrophysicists of course. Obsessed with the research papers of academia.edu and amped up on coffee, I’ve read 1,300 pages on space colonization from experts from NASA and researchers at MIT. My goal is to bring the basics to the nerds of Nerds on Earth so we can begin to dream of being Nerds in Space.
The outline will be as follows:
- This Intro
- Establishing a Budget and Timeline
- The Stepping Stones that Will Take Us to Mars
- Traveling far.
- Establishing an outpost.
- Terraforming a home.
I can’t promise you that you’ll receive an honorary degree from Stanford even if you read each and every one of the above articles, but I can promise you that you’ll gain a greater understanding of the realities of what it will take for humans to become a multi-planet people. That’s fun info to have; it’ll make you interesting at cocktail parties.