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talljasperman's avatar

Instead of terraforming other planets why not occupy and colonize outer space first?

Asked by talljasperman (21744points) July 11th, 2014

What are the difficulties for occupying and colonizing outer-space? With no additional resources from Earth after settling a piece of outer-space.

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9 Answers

dxs's avatar

There’s no oxygen or water and it’s quite cold. Not to mention the fact there’s no gravity, so once we start moving, we won’t stop.

Blackberry's avatar

Lol. We should focus on not treating each other like shyt first.

jerv's avatar

It takes quite a bit to create a self-sustaining environment. With no food supplies from outside, you would need a shitload of space dedicated to hydroponics and other food generation. Given that the average person eats more than one meal a month (plants grow slowly), we’re talking something about the size of the Mir space station per person just to feed them. Fortunately, the sheer amount of vegetation required would likely also put off enough oxygen to sustain life.

Of course, both those wouldn’t be able to handle a population explosion, so you’d be lucky if you were allowed to reproduce. If everybody had a kid, that’s a 50% increase in food/oxygen requirements, so odds are that if you have any grandchildren, the rest of the ship/station would have to toss you out the airlock in order to avoid suffocation/starvation; one in, one out.

That doesn’t count things like radiation shielding, temperature control, and (arguably, the most important bit) redundant systems so that a single system fault won’t kill everybody on board.

ragingloli's avatar

Muscle atrophy

jerv's avatar

@ragingloli That can be gotten around…. but the bone decalcification and cardiovascular issues of micro/zero-gravity living are less easy to deal with.

Now, if we could get 1G then we’d be set, but there really is no way to do that. A spin habitat would either be too big to stay together, or small enough that the Coriolis Effect would make the inhabitants permanently nauseous.

The amount of fuel needed to maintain 1G of thrust would be so far beyond ridiculous that you would be an idiot to even think of going that route; it might be practical if we had reactionless drives taht required no fuel, but we are at least a century out from that technology, assuming that it’s even physically possible and not just Roddenberry-style handwaving. If we had that, we could just use artificial gravity anyways.

ragingloli's avatar

@jerv
If you could build one big enough, you could use one big electric reaction wheel, powered by either a thermoelectric nuclear generator or solar power.
And you would not have to power it continuously either, because there is no air in space that would slow down the rotation.
Or, if you want to keep it small, you could attach the habitat to a counter weight with a very long rope and start rotating both along a shared centre of gravity. Again, because of a lack of atmosphere you would really only need an initial impulse to get the rotation going.

jerv's avatar

@ragingloli Centrifugal force is still a non-trivial issue though.

ragingloli's avatar

it will be once you crack the carbon nanotube issue.

jerv's avatar

@ragingloli Yes, but monowire and Buckytubes are not exactly mass production items as of yet. But unlike artificial gravity, I actually see those as possibly coming out in my lifetime.

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