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Elon Musk Wants Space Colonists, Not Just Tourists

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the one-way-trip dept.

Space 67

An anonymous reader writes "Elon Musk, founder of PayPal and CEO of SpaceX, is not all that excited about space tourism: he wants to colonize Mars. 'I don't think it's a tragedy that people can't have fun in space. People should be able to go if they want to, but it's no great tragedy if they can't. But I do think it is a great tragedy if humanity can't establish itself on another planet. It's the single most important thing we can do to continue the human race.' SpaceX will launch Falcon I in mid to late January 2005."

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Not another planet - Space itself (4, Interesting)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10787669)

I don't think we should colonize another planet. Why waste all that energy getting out of this gravity well only to stick ourselves in another one? I think the future of humanity is to create and live in structures in solar orbit. All the problems can be solved through engineering, just like the Mars problems would have to be. And once we have figured it out, there are no limits on expansion, etc!

Anybody with me?

Re:Not another planet - Space itself (1)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10787962)

I know, if given an honest opportunity to do something like that, I'd jump at the chance.

Sure, it'd probably be shitty for the first hundred years or so. But think of what you'd be doing for humankind. It far surpasses any colonization in history.

Depends where the resources are (2, Informative)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788374)

Mars has all the elements required for life, including (if we can trust the evidence) water. It's difficult to get off Mars but you can do it with single-stage rockets. I don't know if you're going to be able to find an asteroid which yields everything you need for building materials, atmosphere, and the rest. Having to do a lot of scooting around to get those things from different rocks may increase your trouble and risk more than putting down on a little planet like Mars.

Re:Depends where the resources are (4, Insightful)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788555)

I am thinking more long term. There are problems to be solved on Mars (cold, sand storms, low energy availability, etc.), and (probably somewhat harder) problems to be solved in space (near perfect recycling of air and water, safety, artificial gravity that doesn't make you sick, etc.). My point is that if you solve the problems on Mars, you have less than doubled the space available for humans (or probability of our species survival, if you prefer). Mars colonization doesn't lead anywhere but Mars.

Once we have gone to space, our possibilities are limitless. For example, once completely self contained space platforms are common, one of them will almost certainly get fed up with everyone in the sol system - and take off for another star. It won't matter how far you are going, because the journey (or arrival) would not really change your life style any.

In addition, it will be possible to get with a group of like-minded people and build your own society. This could be an end of terrorism, maybe even an end of some of the other unlpeasant things that happen on Earth. (Not that this will change human nature, it will just reduce the struggle for resources.)

like-minded people and build your own society. (3, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788624)

So the Libertarian Arcology is out in the asteroids, and the Sunni Muslim Arcology is orbiting Mars, and the Shiites are near Venus, while the Baptists are at L5. Maybe the best thing about space is that it's BIG, and these different groups of like-minded people could stay separated.

But somehow I have this feeling that they would feel compelled to park all of their Arcologies in geosynchronous orbit over the Jerusalem/Mecca vicinity, and duke it out.

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788752)

But even if they do that, it is better than what we have now. I don't have to be involved. And neither do, for example, the people in Iraq that really want peace - they could just leave in this instance. Right now, I cannot escape the fact that eventually a terrorist is going to make a crater out of a building near me. There is no reason I should be involved in a middle eastern problem that I personally had no (or at least very little) part in creating. Frankly, I could live well enough getting my energy elsewhere, but that isn't an option for me at this point.

As you say, space is big and if I don't want to be involved with a fight in the middle east (or as you say, over it) - I can just leave!

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788997)

The problem is with the debris raining on our heads. I'm sure any significant battle at geosync would have blasts sufficient to de-orbit big chunks of metal. Plus if they're in geosync, they're going to take an "interest" in what's going on, below. I don't think I like that, either.

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789097)

Well, technically almost anything done in geosync is not going to make it to Earth. It is unlikely for anything to be put in an orbit intersecting Earth (an object thrown straight down from geo will not necessarily hit earth), and even if it did it would burn up in the atmosphere first (bad entry angle and all that). But what I was really saying is that anyone that wanted to could leave Earth, and so they don't have to worry about stuff falling on their heads.

People who stay on Earth are the people to whom the risk / benefit of staying on Earth is less than the cost of getting to orbit. (Of course with today's launch prices, that is everybody!)

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10789129)


As you say, space is big and if I don't want to be involved with a fight in the middle east (or as you say, over it) - I can just leave!

I'd just like to point out that the Earth is pretty big too. And if you want to leave your current country/state/city of residence and go someplace else, nobody's stopping you either.

Not that living in space wouldn't be cool, but I don't think that being able to "just leave" when shit happens is a very good argument for it. You can do the same thing here and now.

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789372)

Where exactly can I go and be assured of not being attacked by pirates, unfriendly natives, or forced to obey to someone else's ideas of what "good" is?

In my opinion, any country I could go to has more problems than my own (that's why I haven't left permanently), and anywhere that is not a country is under threat of "bad" people, like pirates in asia and the south pacific.

Really, what are my options?

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10796743)

anywhere that is not a country is under threat of "bad" people, like pirates in asia and the south pacific.

That's what ex-marines and navy seals are for. Make sure you buy them the good equipment.

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (1)

managerialslime (739286) | more than 9 years ago | (#10792519)

>>There is no reason I should be involved in a Middle Eastern problem that I personally had no (or at least very little) part in creating.
>>

Just because you feel no connection to the place does not eliminate the fact that you are benefiting from thousands of years of the evolution of human social and scientific systems.

Those benefits came at a price. The technology age /space age is a product of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution was a product of the enlightenment. The enlightenment was a product of the Holy Roman Empire which has been intermittently warring with Muslim countries for centuries.

While many in the US would like to believe that history started in 1776, the basis for our institutions and social organizations came partially from the Greeks and partially from Western Europe, but primarily from the Roman Empire.

The SIG for another /. poster is something like "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." As you potentially have the education and experiences that are the product of all of these years of conflict, perhaps you might decide to become involved in some small part of the solution to our divided and warring species.

If we don't deal with those "other" parts of the world, they are going to contiunue come after us as they did on 9/11.

I hope you embrace your connection to the rest of humanity. Then maybe you won't resent begin part of the solution.

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10793078)

OK, I looked at your other posts and your not a troll, so...

You must have misunderstood me. I have no problem being a part of the solution, I just have a problem being called the problem. The terrorist hate me. The terrorists want to kill me, personally. They are not just going after the Romans, Greeks, Bush, etc because that group has attacked them. I am not doing anything to them, but because oil companies deal with Saudi Arabia (something not within my control) my life is in danger. The terrorists see my existance as the problem, when in reality they should see Isreal or Saudi Arabia (depending on who you talk to) as the problem. They can't sucessfully attack those targets, so instead they attack me so that my government will bring pressure on those targets.

I'm afraid I feel no connection whatsoever with the terrorists. They are a cancer of society. Cancers are lethal for the same reasons as terrorists, that the illness is not really treatable after the terrorists (or cancer) has spread. The only things that work at that point are too draconian to contemplate.

I think leaving the planet is a viable solution. All Iraqis, Iranians, Palestinians, etc that wish to come may come. But leave your hate at the door. Let those that remain tied to the Earth for religious and whatever other reasons die in the terrorist wars to come.

It may not seem viable now, but give me 10 years...

Re:like-minded people and build your own society. (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10800562)

> If we don't deal with those "other" parts of the world, they are going to contiunue come after us as they did on 9/11.

The day the Muslims develop a culture capable of building an arcology (as opposed to merely deorbiting one) is the day humanity ceases to have to worry about Muslims "coming after us" - in space or on Earth.

Stranger things have happened in history, but I'm not holding my breath.

> The SIG for another /. poster is something like "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes."

- Throw rock
- Hit other guy with stick
- Hit other guy with sharp stick
- Shoot stick at other guy with curved stick
- Hit other guy with sharp copper stick
- Hit other guy with sharp bronze stick
- Hit other guy with sharp iron stick
- Hit other guy with sharp steel stick
- Shoot stick at other guy with REALLY BIG curved stick.
- Shoot stick at other guy with stick with trigger.
- Shoot metal rock at other guy with rock with trigger.
- Drop exploding metal rocks on other guy
- Drop unstable atomic metal rocks on other guy.
- Build arcology between Mars and Jupiter orbit.
- Throw rock :)

Re:Not another planet - Space itself (1)

dynamo (6127) | more than 9 years ago | (#10790332)

I'm with you, man. Space is MUCH closer than Mars.

All the way! (1)

eigerface (526490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10793860)


Let's go! [spaceref.com]

Depends on why you want to colonize space (1)

UnapprovedThought (814205) | more than 9 years ago | (#10794914)

If it is...

  • ...to escape being swallowed by the sun in a red-giant expansion? Then you need to be further away than Mars.

  • ...to survive a nearby supernova, your only chance is to be underground inside of a giant mass (and be able to survive the extreme conditions).

  • ...to have abundant raw materials? Then Luna is closer than Mars, and the asteroid belt requires less energy if you are going to import the materials.

  • ...to build a space-faring capability? Then yeah, you'll want to live in space but don't forget you'll need lots of materials for shielding. You would probably want to reduce the cost of space launches first by building a space elevator or a skyhook.

  • ...to relieve population pressure? Education of our beyond-carrying-capacity population may work better, except for those who are about as smart than a bacterial colony about to self-asphyxiate.

  • ...to inspire an interest in science? Almost anything will do that. Unmanned missions with lots of audiovisuals will go further than a single trip to Mars (which you could just fake through video editing anyway). Even a flight sim with detailed Mars scenery bundled with an OS would be more instructive than a news announcement "Look, humans are on Mars" good for about five minutes of press attention.

Homestead Mars! (2, Insightful)

Dr. Bent (533421) | more than 9 years ago | (#10787700)

We need a Homestead Act [wikipedia.org] for Mars. It would probably have to be an international treaty (although with the current White House that's not a strict requirement). Carve out a section of Mars and say: If you live here for X number of years, you own it.

If you REALLY want to colonize Mars, allow corporations to do this as well as individuals. That's probably the fastest way. Whether or not it's the best way is up for debate...

Quote from B5 on Importance of Colonizing Space (4, Insightful)

software_trainer (828294) | more than 9 years ago | (#10787714)

From the Babylon 5 [warnerbros.com] television series, Capt. John Sheridan:

"Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu, Einstein, Morobuto, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes .. and all of this .. all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars." (Infection, season 1, ep. 4)

Re:Quote from B5 on Importance of Colonizing Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10789218)

<B5 geek>Sheridan wasn't on the show until season 2. Sinclair said that quote.</B5 geek>

Re:Quote from B5 on Importance of Colonizing Space (1)

dar (15755) | more than 9 years ago | (#10792833)

It's been a while since I've done any reading in this area. But I think this is a "hide under a tree in the rain" fallacy. The old joke goes that two guys are out on the golf course when it starts to rain. One guys says he's going to wait it out under a tree. The second guy asks him what he'll do when that tree is all wet and dripping on him. First guy says he'll move to a different tree.

I'm sure there's some fudge factor, but (give or take a few million years)if our star is running down - I bet the rest will be too.

Re:Quote from B5 on Importance of Colonizing Space (1)

mainframemouse (740958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10796891)

The life expectancy of a star depends on many factors (size, composition etc). Just as different trees would offer various levels of protection during a rain storm. We have billions of years before our sun goes pop and tens of million before the suns expansions makes the planet unlivible. Bigger problems are population growth, polution, engery, resources and bio-diversity. At current population growth we only have a few hundred years before we hit critical mass.

Quote from Larry Niven (1)

LazyBoy (128384) | more than 9 years ago | (#10794785)

"The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program."

We need to get off the planet.

Re:Quote from B5 on Importance of Colonizing Space (1)

shpoffo (114124) | more than 9 years ago | (#10798660)

I am not infavor of the proposition that the Sun must grow cold and go out because it seems to be a leader-argument to (or a side-effect of) all of what is know in the universe eventually fizzling in some greater or lesser death.

To be clear (for those who choose to use prejudice filters you can begin here) - I feel that the energy organization principle that we refer to as consciousness predates material formation, and so would not cease in the advent of a dissappeared life-envelope as we presently construe it. I'm also compelled by universe models of cyclical inversion.

Will stars fizzle out? Can we resucitate them? How long can we star/space-hop before the universe changes? what role will we play in that change? If there is an end to the universe, I will play all my bets on the fact that consciousness will be crafty enough to keep itself alive "up to the end." So what will it mean for consciousness to be involved in that? (Via string theory/etc) what do we know about how the universe may not 'end' but rather have some larger rhythm? Where are we not in terms of htat rhythm?

.
-shpoffo

Did Elon Musk found PayPal? (1)

baywulf (214371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10787879)

I recall Elon founding X.com which was an online bank that was not much of a success and eventually merged with PayPal. I remember X.com from the dotcom days because I opened an account with them since they payed money for it. Here is a link with no reference to PayPal: http://rider.wharton.upenn.edu/~mslls/99_00/musk.h tml

Re:Did Elon Musk found PayPal? (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788068)

From the spacex.com website:
SpaceX is the third company founded by Mr. Musk. Prior to SpaceX, he co-founded PayPal, the world's leading electronic payment system, and served as the company's chairman and CEO. PayPal has over twenty million customers in 38 countries, processes several billion dollars per year and went public on the NASDAQ under PYPL in early 2002. Mr. Musk was the largest shareholder of PayPal until the company was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002.

Before PayPal, Mr. Musk co-founded Zip2 Corporation in 1995, a leading provider of enterprise software and services to the media industry, with investments from The New York Times Company, Knight-Ridder, MDV, Softbank and the Hearst Corporation. He served as Chairman, CEO and Chief Technology Officer and in March 1999 sold Zip2 to Compaq for $307 million in an all cash transaction.

Mr. Musk's early experience extends across a spectrum of advanced technology industries, from high energy density ultra-capacitors at Pinnacle Research to software development at Rocket Science and Microsoft. He has a physics degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a business degree from Wharton and originally came out to California to pursue graduate studies in high energy density capacitor physics & materials science at Stanford.

I can't find it right now, but as I remember it x.com was founded as an incubator for 'some kinda' financial service, and after a few months it turned into paypal.

Deep Seas (1)

Frans Faase (648933) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788255)

Why not try to build cities on the bottom of the Oceans? I guess people like this really have no idea of the amouth of resouces that would be needed to colonize Mars. It would be much cheaper to colonize the deep seas. But nobody thinks about doing this. If we are not even able to preserve the climate on Earth how are we going to think we can colonize Mars.

Re:Deep Seas (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789084)

Why not try to build cities on the bottom of the Oceans?

The water pressure would be soooooooo crushing that such a structure would probably cost as much as a Mars space ship.

Now, colonizing the continental shelves might be practical.

why choose? (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788306)

People colonize other places because of what they need to do there, not for what they can send back here. Space tourists will be something in space that "locals" will be needed to take care of. Tourism is a lot less risky and expensive to get started than energy/matter mining, so it's a good reason to start colonies, that tourists can visit.

All recent colonization (past few thousand years) has been an effort to connect with other people already living in remote locations, and prior "aboriginal" colonization was apparently due to exhausting resources (or social conflict) in the original location. While planting colonies among alien "people" seems an attractive option, it's unlikely. While waiting until the Earth is used up, or too hostile to stay, is a much less likely way to ensure our species' survival.

Re:why choose? (2, Interesting)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788869)

People colonize other places because of what they need to do there, not for what they can send back here

Hmm that's not how the colonists in North America saw it -- the Colonies were pretty angry that everything they made had to be sold back to England, and that their economy was being crushed by English taxes. People didn't go to the new world for tourism, they went because of business opportunity -- and when the unfair trading practices made those opportunities poor, they revolted.

The colonization of North America was NOT about connecting with people -- once they figured out it was a continent, they gave up the quick way to India idea (some sooner than others) and settled in. They weren't overly interested with "connecting" with the Native Americans. They were savages! What's to connect with? That's the way most of them saw it. And of course don't forget many colonists were also religious refugees fleeing England -- so they had nothing to do with connecting with people, economics, or tourism -- they were true colonists.

Re:why choose? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789243)

The North American colonists, whether English, Spanish, French, or other Europeans, came to America to trade with the American tribal nations, largely for tobacco and fur. To facilitate that trade, colonists settled along the coasts and along rivers. After a few generations, the Europeans started cutting out the middleman, capitalizing on the thousands of years of animal and plant breeding developed by the tribal people. After several generations, they had become American enough to take over much of the heritage from the native peoples, but only after they had established colonies in connection with those peoples.

As for the religious colonists, they had first been run out of England, then Holland, for their own religious intolerance. These fundamentalist Christians fled the "worldly" cities of Europe only after they'd worn out their welcome, and found a separate place in the colonial system where they could practice their agressive asceticism without causing riots, while producing value for the empire's owners.

This notion of "savage" American tribes is just the European propaganda for justifying their massacre. The colonists themselves had typically been tribal Europeans just a few centuries before, many practicing their own pagan religions. Compared to urban India, Persia, Turkey, Morocco and China, they were savages, and generally indistinguishable from the American tribes with which they competed and cooperated in America. Until late in the 20th Century, European theories of progress and history had also ruled out African civilization as impossible, though they were often more sophisticated than their European contemporaries.

Much of this comparative sociology is at odds with the history we're taught in America. Elementary and even most secondary education of our heritage skips the inconvenient facts about our development and competition with societies with which we competed. Propagating popular myths is safe and effective, and most people will never question them. The victor might get to write the histories, but that doesn't change the facts. If we try to apply only our glorious myths in new undertakings, like space colonization, rather than learning from our actual past, we will decrease our chances of success in an already risky venture.

Re:why choose? (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789479)

First paragraph: No. English came for tobacco and fur, and ended losing the fur trade (which was really the only real trade with the natives) to the French, and it was lucrative but limited to the north (Canada). The English just grew their own tobacco, and started importing slaves from Africa to work the fields -- note, they didn't enslave the natives, they wanted nothing to do with them. Colonists settled along coasts and rivers because those were the easiest places to get to, and the easiest to get products back to the Homeland. No point in risking your life trying to settle among the savage interior -- people die that way! There was no great Euro-NA connection among the people -- they were mostly at odds, feared each other, and pretty much couldn't get along.

The Spanish came for gold. They also attempted to convert to catholocism many of the natives, but mostly for purposes of control and de-savagifying them.

2nd Paragraph: Yes, those religious colonists were chased around and out of Europe -- they fled to America to get away for persecution based on their religion. They were not popular, they didn't much like the homeland, they traded little with the homeland, and the homelands were pretty happy with that -- good riddance, they figured. These religious colonies also pretty much didn't get along with the natives, feared them, and wanted little to do with them -- they saw the natives as savages.

3rd P: The notion of "savage" tribes is NOT European propoganda -- that is the way the colonists saw them. They believed it. I am not attempting to say, nor do I believe, that the NA tribes actually were savages. But what I believe is not what the colonists believe. And if by "few centuries before" you mean like, 8, yes. Assuming the first New World date is 1500, most of Europe was rapidly Xianizing by 600ad-700ad.

I didn't propogate any myths, I simply mentioned the reasons the colonists themselves held for their actions. While what they might have believed was wrong, that doesn't mean they didn't believe it.

Re:why choose? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10790105)

"Velásquez commissioned Hernán Cortés to explore, trade, and search for Christian captives in the Yucatán." [ucalgary.ca]

There are lots of other descriptions of the early trade between Europeans and American tribes, when the newcomers were at a disadvantage for mere survival, let alone conquest. When that phase passed, Europeans leveraged their superior firepower and transportation into conquest. All in the name of taking what the Americans had produced, in their lifetimes or over generations of breeding. Most of these Europeans, whose families lived in the relative squalor of European villages and countryside, were peasants whose Christianity hadn't changed their own clan/tribal culture much since around 1200, when they started to resemble the sophistication of the American tribal civilizations. Try reading The Indian Givers [randomhouse.com] , which documents details of superior American culture taken by Europeans. Though they might have believed the Americans were "savages", or even devils, that doesn't change their interest in the superior agricultural products of those American people.

When Europeans landed in the Americas, they found lands filled with bounty produced by people. They stayed to get more of that bounty for themselves, whether they kept it all in their colonies, or sent some back to Europe. When we set up space colonies, colonists will be easier to justify and support when working within a human context than just extracting alien matter from an airless rock.

Re:why choose? (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#10792220)

Did you even read what you sent me?

" Although the voyages did not yield an immediate solution for the Governor of Cuba, there were indications of a wealthy civilisation somewhere just beyond the Spaniard's reach. Intrigued and excited about the possibility of finding the source of this wealth, Velásquez commissioned Hernán Cortés to explore, trade, and search for Christian captives in the Yucatán."

"ortés did not want to explore, trade, and search for Christian captives. Rather, his goal was nothing less than the conquest of Mexico. He wrote to King Charles V, and sought confirmation of the title of chief officer of Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz that he had conferred upon himself. He also explained to the king the "ungodly ways" of the indigenous population and stated that his would be a "just war" against their tyrannical ruler. Cortés did not hurt his own cause when he described the wealth of the Aztecs and claimed that he wanted to conquer the territory in the name of Christianity and the Spanish Crown. Convinced that his actions would ultimately justify the steps he had already taken, Cortés set off overland for the Mexican capital."

"Cortés' management of Spanish possessions in the Americas ensured that, by 1540, Mexico City (built on the ruins of Tenochtitlán) was the metropolis of Spanish America. Cortés' gambled that his success would absolve him of his rebellion against Velásquez in the eyes of the Spanish Crown. He was correct and received riches, a title of nobility, and fame. After the defeat of the Aztecs, Spanish power spread rapidly through the Aztec Empire. Cortés' action was one of the single largest additions of land and treasure to the Spanish Empire ever secured by an individual."

Thanks for supporting my point -- it was about conquest and riches at the expense of the savages in their mind.

Re:why choose? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10792330)

Did you read it? Velasquez was the governor of Cuba, and was sending people out to trade. Cortez was a killer, and cared only for his firepower superiority over the Aztecs, who were obviously not "savages" in their cities among a network of boat channels and roads. Cortez is an example of the turnover from trade to conquest, and his mission demonstrates the trade orientation of the earlier phase.

Re:why choose? (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#10792426)

Clearly the aztecs were not savages. but Cortez wrote back that they were, which had Chuckie V OK the expedition to conquer it.

Velasquez sent them out to trade with a civilization, one his recon men had only heard about. He was expecting the kind of civilization you'd see in Europe. The euro idea of civilization was pretty narrow. Cortez saw what the aztecs were, and knew it wasn't "Civilization" and so conquered it.

"Cortés' gambled that his success would absolve him of his rebellion against Velásquez in the eyes of the Spanish Crown. He was correct and received riches, a title of nobility, and fame"

Why would it work? because he conquered a bunch of savages and that was better than trading with savages. That was the European worldview. If Velasquez had gone over there and seen the real Aztecs, would he have tried to trade with them? I don't know, I'm not Velasquez, but if he had, he'd have been in the minority. Trading was for equals. Conquering was what civilizations do, not accept heavily armed strangers into their midst, trusting them. Look at what was going on in India at this time, and in South Asia for more on Civilized Society vs. Savages.

Again, I fully understand that the Native Americans had their own legitimate civilization and were not savages. but that is how the Euros saw them.

Re:why choose? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10792913)

We agree about the European view towards overseas cultures. Voltaire himself wrote convincingly of the impossibility of African civilization, despite its reality. Eurochauvinism cheats us of vast learning developed by other people, which we can steal without diminishing them (to paraphrase Jefferson, another chauvinist ;).

I'm currently reading the pioneering study of "fractal sensibility" in African craft, African Fractals [rpi.edu] . We are fortunate to be more enlightened than most Enlightenment Europeans - our world heritage entitles us to steal freely from the ideas of anyone we choose.

Re:why choose? (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788958)

All recent colonization (past few thousand years) has been an effort to connect with other people already living in remote locations, and prior "aboriginal" colonization was apparently due to exhausting resources (or social conflict) in the original location.
Was Europe used up when they started colonize the Americas? Life in colonial America was much tougher than England, even the voyage itself was dangerous. Sure some people moved here for more freedom or to convert the natives, but most did it for the economic oppurtunity. The business men (including the Kings) of Europe paid for it because of the raw materials (gold, cotton, wood, fur, etc).

Re:why choose? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789306)

The gold, tobacco, cotton, fur and other industries that encouraged Europeans to bankroll the colonies were all produced by native tribes. Europeans started by trading with them, combined with some conquering. After more conquering, they got into enslaving. None of which would have been possible without the people who first developed the Americas, then became part of the bounty. Remember that it was South America that first attracted European attention, and retained it for centuries before the North became the object of serious attention. The south was the site of several civilizations harvested by Europeans, some of which were more advanced in practically every way other than the wheel, the horse, guns and ships. Those specific technologies (most of which were copied from Asians) gave the edge to the European economics, which depended on taking things from the natives - first through trade, then through conquest.

Re:why choose? (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 9 years ago | (#10790535)

The fact that there were native people here (in the Americas), does not change the fact that they made the voyage and colonized primarily for the raw materials. The didn't come over here for the purpose of trading with the natives, but to get the raw materials. Trading is just one way of accomplishing it.
...some of which were more advanced in practically every way other than the wheel, the horse, guns and ships
I know tobacco and cocaine, were quite advanced... AKA, of course there were many things they were more advanced, but that isn't the point.

The point is, Europeans colonized the Americas looking for raw materials to send back home. Many of them made the effort to uproot themselves and move to a distant land, in order to harvest the materials for export back to the 'old' country for economic gain. Space doesn't have any natives which to set up for a quick trade (at least none that I know of), but the people who colonize space , will be looking for raw material for export back to earth. Some of the first production will be microgravity 'processed' materials including pharmacuticals, but mining will(?) quickly become the biggest industry.

If you can find any 'space natives' to trade with it would probally set us forward into colonizing space by 100 years, but I suppose that our civilization would end up like the Azetecs (now that would be ironic).

Re:why choose? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10792294)

Remember that Europeans sailed to "India" (the European term), found the Americas instead, called the inhabitants "Indians", and traded with them until they could steal instead. And remember that my point was that people colonize for the value of staying in the distant place, not just the value of sending some of it back. So I merely propose that tourists will give colonists a reason to stay long-term, rather than set up mining and leave. A precedent on Earth is fishermen who explored inhabited coasts, like Europeans in Greenland/Newfoundland, but leave (with no trace) after they've got their fish. While trappers who found people often settled with them, as they'd already "tamed" the land. Tourists need tamed "lands", which will be more attractive to colonists.

Who would be best to colonize another planet? (1, Insightful)

rubberbando (784342) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788484)

I mean, who would really but up to such a challenge of giving up everything they have here on Earth? Obviously living on Mars, you would lose so many of the conviences and luxuries you are used to here on Earth. Most likely no more TV, broadband internet, or junk food. You would have to spend your entire life inside a building or in a space suit when you wanted to get out and stretch your legs or explore (if you are authorized to do such things). It would definately take some serious courage to change your life so drastically.

Perhaps, the first colonists to another planet should be from places that don't have so many luxuries, if any at all so they won't go crazy from such a drastic lifestyle change. People from 3rd world countries would most likely be better at adjusting. They are already used to living in harsh environments and working hard to survive. Sending them to colonize Mars would probably be a step up for many of them.

Re:Who would be best to colonize another planet? (1)

rubberbando (784342) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788872)

I guess there goes my karma I worked so hard for! I wasn't trying to be a troll or flamebait! WTF? Anyways, I was trying to say that going to space/Mars would be very hard on people psychologically. I wasn't trying to offend anyone, but I guess who cares! *sigh*

Re:Who would be best to colonize another planet? (2, Insightful)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788911)

Odd that you were marked as troll and flamebait. In general you are correct, except that (free will) colonists are normally middle class (because they can afford the ticket). They typically are trying to go from a situation they have no control over to a situation they have more control over. Quakers came to America for freedom of religion. Some Irish came over to avoid a famin. People talk about leaving the US to avoid Republican government, etc.

The real motivator I feel will be 2 fold. First, the threat of terrorism / poverty will drive people to leave Earth (which probably improves life for those left behind as well). Second, people will leave Earth to escape the mass of rules that all governments create. As any government ages, it comes up with lots of little rules of behaviour for every situation (for example, whenever someone dies or a shuttle blows up there is a new law created). These rules don't bother most people, but to some they troublesome. Those people will leave as well.

Just remember, the way to get rich during a colonist movement is to be a landowner, a shopkeeper, or a transportation system owner.

Re:Who would be best to colonize another planet? (1)

smurf975 (632127) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789465)

I think the comfort of life shouldn't change much if you play it smart [wikisource.org] . And if doing it that way, the colonies will enhance earth life a lot.

You can still have internet,tv and communications with earth, however with a 10 minute delay. For internet and TV that should not be that big of a problem (must people visit the same sites everyday anyway). Just have big cache for internet that automatically updates. TV is even less of a big deal, so what if you watch yesterdays show? Communication can be akward but you can still communicate. However get more used to email and recordings then direct communications.

Again if you play it smart [wikisource.org] you can have all the luxeries that you had on earth and more.

Re:Who would be best to colonize another planet? (1)

smurf975 (632127) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789516)

I failed to say that the link I mentioned is about a 1980's study about self replicating machines which was considered feasible even when using moon resources. And its not about nano technology, its using off the shelf parts and knowledge to establish this.

Re:Who would be best to colonize another planet? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 9 years ago | (#10790706)

I mean, who would really but up to such a challenge of giving up everything they have here on Earth? Obviously living on Mars, you would lose so many of the conviences and luxuries you are used to here on Earth. Most likely no more TV, broadband internet, or junk food. You would have to spend your entire life inside a building or in a space suit when you wanted to get out and stretch your legs or explore (if you are authorized to do such things). It would definately take some serious courage to change your life so drastically.

Yep. I'd go in a heartbeat, if it were possible. No more TV - I dont' watch it now. No more broadband internet - that would be annoying. No more junk food - I'm kicking that habit even as I type this - three weeks without a burger, and counting.

Spending my entire life in a building? My current job puts me in a building from just after sunrise to just after sunset right now. It'll be better when summer rolls around again of course. But a desk job here is the next best thing to spending my entire life in a building. Space suit wouldn't bother me, I don't think. Depends on the design of the suit, I guess.

Seriously, it's a chance to be away from the ...stuff... I put up with now. Different ...stuff... there, of course, but at least it has the virtue of being different.

Only thing that would make me think twice is that likely enough my daughter would want to remain here. Which defeats the whole purpose of colonizing, doesn't it?

Futility of such talk (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10788937)

His idea is so "forward thinking" that it's science fiction.

Until we can discover/create a sufficiently small, powerful, manageable power source, we aren't going beyong the moon.

Any ship that would take anyone (except Apollo 11-type explorers) on interplanetary travel will need to be robust enough to protect against small meteors, adequately shielded from radiation, and large enough to provide some sort of pseudo-gravity.

Accelerating such a craft to a speed adequate to "rapidly" cross the ~300(*) million km from Earth to Mars and then deccelerate it once it gets there (and back!) will take a lot of energy...

(*) The average straight-line distance is ~73 million km, but, of course, spaceships never travel in straight lines. So, I guesstimate that the actual "kilometers traveled" would be 145M km. And, because it's a round trip, double it to ~300M km.

Re:Futility of such talk (1)

Wolfkin (17910) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789158)

Until we can discover/create a sufficiently small, powerful, manageable power source, we aren't going beyong the moon.

Nukes. Solar power. Either suffice for travel to Mars. Nukes can be used for farther than that, but solar power requires much larger collection equipment in the asteroids.

Any ship that would take anyone (except Apollo 11-type explorers) on interplanetary travel will need to be robust enough to protect against small meteors, adequately shielded from radiation, and large enough to provide some sort of pseudo-gravity.

If it's fast enough (nukes, again), it need not protect exceedingly well from small particles, and you can take enough stuff with you that much of it can do double duty as radiation shielding (not from the reactor, but from the environment). Rotational "gravity" isn't required unless it's going to be longer than 6 months or so, which a fast ship wouldn't be.

Accelerating such a craft to a speed adequate to "rapidly" cross the ~300(*) million km from Earth to Mars and then deccelerate it once it gets there (and back!) will take a lot of energy...

Why "back"? We're talking about colonists. We only need to get them there, and resupply them with some things. Leaving off the return stage eases the problem enormously.

Re:Futility of such talk (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10804070)

Nukes.

Isn't manageable (yet)

Why "back"?

Because people want to travel back and forth?

And, the proper sort of power source would allow "us" or the Martian colonists to mine the asteroids, etc, etc.

Rotational "gravity" isn't required unless it's going to be longer than 6 months or so, which a fast ship wouldn't be.

I'd still much rather travel in a shielded craft that provides at least partial, temporary(*) gravity.

(*) spinning sleep rooms, for example, so that your body is subject to pseudo-gravity at least part of the "day".

Re:Futility of such talk (1)

Wolfkin (17910) | more than 9 years ago | (#10805195)

Nukes.

Isn't manageable (yet)


It's been manageable since the 1960s. A craft in either the NERVA or Orion families would be much more capable than any chemical rocket, and pretty straightforward to build.

Re:Futility of such talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10789263)

I actually have a launch system that will solve these problems, sort of a modified beanstalk. The only reason I haven't really told anyone is that I want to profit by it (I am selfish, yes). It will cost on the order of a billion dollars to create, but has very low technical risk. Once created, attaining Earth orbit will only cost as much as the company charges (there are no real recurring costs, only human ones). I hope to build this eventually, and will release the idea to the public domain if I lose hope of building it.

Obviously, I have not given you enough information to judge the validity of my claim (because I want first crack at it, and I don't have $1B yet), but my question is what would you (and others) do in this situation? Would you give up your life dream (to create the thing yourself) in order to make it more likely to be created?

Re:Futility of such talk (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789620)

The average straight-line distance is ~73 million km, but, of course, spaceships never travel in straight lines. So, I guesstimate that the actual "kilometers traveled" would be 145M km. And, because it's a round trip, double it to ~300M km.

The average straight-line distance is considerably more than 73 Gm. 73 Gm is very close to the MINIMUM straight-line distance. Average is a lot closer to 240 Gm.

Actual distance travelled in a Hohmann transfer orbit (which is a poor choice for a manned mission) is ~600 Gm. Doubled for a round-trip to 1200 Gm.

But colonists won't be coming back, so we can ignore the round-trip figure. Starting from the Moon, chemically-fueled ships can make Mars in six months on a free return trajectory, with a reasonable mass-ratio. Which is short enough that the radiation shielding issue wouldn't be prohibitive and artificial gravity isn't required.

And if you simply MUST have artificial gravity, then take two ships, tether them together with a long line once they enter their transfer orbit, and spin them about their common axis. It's not an insurmountable problem.

Re:Futility of such talk (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10804108)

And if you simply MUST have artificial gravity, then take two ships, tether them together with a long line once they enter their transfer orbit, and spin them about their common axis.

And if the 2 ships aren't exactly balanced, it'll wobble, and that's a Bad Thing.

Think of an out-of-balance ceiling fan.

Its not futile. (1)

stretch0611 (603238) | more than 9 years ago | (#10792772)

Admittedly, There is a large power demand for life support and the needs of people. However, I think that can be taken care of with solar power.

You are correct that you need adequate power to accelerate and decelerate the space ship; but distance will not matter because of inertia. Once the ship is at maximum speed you can turn the engine off and it will continue to Mars at maximum speed until you start the deceleration process.

manageable power source (1)

kippy (416183) | more than 9 years ago | (#10798576)

umm, ever heard of nuclear fision?

Single most important thing? (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789253)

>>the single most important thing we can do to continue the human race.

Well, something more important right now would be to insure our continued survival on this planet first. Think about potential catastrophe from nuclear war, bio war, bio industry, other non-intentional environmental issues (pollution, heat, etc.), and we have the potential to pretty well f* it up here before getting anywhere else.

Re:Single most important thing? (1)

purfledspruce (821548) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789619)

Well, that's the point, isn't it? If things get F-ed up here, regardless of if it's a huge asteroid hitting our planet or some "W"ild and crazy guy pressing the shiny red button, there will be an outpost somewhere else that can continue.

Re:Single most important thing? (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 9 years ago | (#10794318)

I believe we should look to go off-world. I do. But right now and for some time we have a much better chance here than on Mars or elsewhere, and so the most important thing, right now, is to ensure that here remains OK. Mars (& other places) is farther down the list. I guess it's the "single most important" modifier that I have issue with in that statement. Earth is important. Take care of it.

You sure there? (1)

jsantos (113796) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789599)

Musk's ultimate goal is to help colonize Mars.

It's the only planet that could support a human civilization, he said.

I think he has his numbers a little bit wrong (or was misquoted), I would think there is another planet that has proved itself capable of supporting life, in the Solar System at any rate.

Earth is a closed system. (1)

NukeMeSlow (530664) | more than 9 years ago | (#10789996)

Does anyone out there understand that the reason we thrive on this planet is because it is practically made out of food? The soil that our food grows in, this same food that our food animals eat, is all recycled material that has existed here for eons. There is no suitable 'soil' on Mars, and if you wanted to grow anything, you would have to bring all of that soil with you. And then provide a suitable atmosphere for it to grow in. This would be a massive undertaking. We have barely scratched the surface in terms of the amount of life that this planet can support. The problem is with our inability to use it with any efficiency. Ideas like this are nice, but they totally disregard the fundamental biology that allows us to live here, let alone anywhere else. If we can't solve the social problems (which by default solves the population capacity issue) that we face now, there is no way we can live somewhere else. Even if it would support us. The problems of humanity are between humans, and between humans and the environment. If we take these problems with us into space, there is no hope for us.

Re:Earth is a closed system. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#10793932)

No it isn't. See that big thing in the sky that is providing energy to all the plants we eat, that's the sun and even a 3 year old knows that means the earth isn't a closed system. Did you even think before you posted that topic?

inflatable hotel in article (1)

WhiteDragon (4556) | more than 9 years ago | (#10790281)

Did anyone else notice the single paragraph in the article about an inflatable hotel in space next year!?!?!?!
SpaceX certainly isn't opposed to space tourism, however. Its first customer for the heavy-lift Falcon 5, designed to carry more than 6 tons to low-Earth orbit, is a commercial space firm in Las Vegas owned by hotel operator Robert Bigelow. He wants to launch a prototype inflatable space hotel into orbit. Launch is targeted for late next year.
NEXT YEAR!!!!! Wow.

Re:inflatable hotel in article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10792728)

Yes, Bigelow [bigelowareospace.com] is very, very serious about what he is doing. However the module to be launched next fall is only a 1/3rd-scale test article, which will be inflated with a nitrogen atmosphere, and won't have any life-support equipment. Subsequent test articles over the following two years will test out different sub-systems, and the first *actual* private space station will launch sometime in 2008 or 2009.

That's not next year, but in the bigger scheme of things, it isn't too far off.

Solve some other problems first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10793492)

What a ridiculous idea it is to rape other parts of the solar system when we as a people cannot, "get" ideas behind cooperation, conservation, and moderating our own greed! We are proving to be such bad stewards of the planet we already inhabit, and we should insist that we leave our mark on a much larger scale?

Dismiss it as liberal/hippie/commie/whatever talk if you want, but refusing to acknowledge that before we become diaspora among the cosmos we should figure out how to be a better humankind, even if only to serve as the best representation of those at "home," is dim-witted and ignorant at best.

Space.cc (1)

ultrapcs (804963) | more than 9 years ago | (#10795423)

Here is a nice web site that discusses Space Tourism: http://www.space.cc/ [space.cc]
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