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We currently have no successful model for self-sustained life disconnected from earth’s ecosystem.

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That’s why we must take baby steps. The first step
shouldn’t be about settling in space but simply of going there to
solve our energy problem down here on Earth.

For that we need space elevators first. We just have to have them.
Even if they cost hundreds of billions, it would be worth the expense.

Because with space elevators we can transport huge solar arrays into
geostationary orbit that collect electric energy there, where the Sun
shines at high noon 24/7 without weather, without nights, which would
be beamed down as microwave energy and collected by rectennas on the
ground.

That solves our electric energy problem, and if we changed our trans-
portation infrastructure accordingly, with plug-in hybrids, that
could go a long way of improving our quality of life everywhere. An
abundance of electricity would also make it possible to create hydro-
gen gas, which could be used in fuel cells and for producing ferti-
lizer without natural gas. Water shortages wouldn’t be an issue any
more if we had enough power to simply desalinate ocean water and to
pump it wherever it’s needed. Deserts could bloom from that and the
added photosynthesis could get rid of our atmospheric carbon dioxide
problem.

The next step would involve fuel factories in space. They would be
the first step towards an ecosystem. We’d use the sunlight for pho-
tosynthesis by pumping biomass through tubes, producing fuels like
biodiesel and ethanol using algae. That would let us run internal
combustion engines down here on Earth the old-fashioned way.

If we had this system going we’d also be able to produce oxygen,
which would be the first step towards actual stable biospheres.
This would be the point when we could start actually moving agri-
culture into space, which could grow to such vast proportions that
it could feed the entire population on Earth and then some. But
if all that food is grown in space it would also become a liveable
place for human beings, with much more space than the Earth’s sur-
face could ever provide. Ecosystems could be huge, thus cushion-
ing the effects of imbalances.

So these are the three steps: First electricity, then fuel, then
food. And then actual habitation as a fourth step. We wouldn’t
have to start out with working ecosystems. The first profitable
venture would simply involve collecting solar energy for Earth and
to go from there…

But we do need those space elevators for any of it…

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Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 4:56 am

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