Unkillable civilization takes more than near Earth Colonization and Space mining

Brian Cox is correct that we are likely 15-20 years from having thousands of people living in space on near Earth asteroids, space stations, the moon and on Mars. However, he is talking about achieving a fingerhold in space as guaranteeing the immortality of our civilization. Space mining and space colonization would be the beginning of making humanity and human civilization significantly more resilient.

Cox mentions that the planets and asteroids offers a billion times more mineable resources, including valuable heavy metals such as nickel, cobalt and gold.

Brian Cox seems to mainly be concerned about resource depletion and ruining the climate of the Earth and extinction level wars.

Resource depletion, global warming climate issues and nuclear war are not events that would destroy all life on Earth or destroy human civilization.

Fossil fuels will not be depleted even if it takes 200 years before we transition to solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power and electric vehicles.

Climate change will not cause billions to starve or break civilization. There are geoengineering options for simulating the effect of volcanoes that will prevent the various worst scenarios. However, localized famines and regional upheavals are things that should be avoided.

Direct war between the USA and China or the USA and Russia or other great powers will not happen.

The current worst case wars over the next couple of decades are :

North Korea war with the West and a couple of dozen nuclear weapons used.
Iran war with Israel and the West. This could involve nuclear weapons anytime after 3 years from now.
India and Pakistan nuclear conflict.

Those are to be avoided and could each involve millions to possibly tens of millions killed.

Living on Earth, moon, Mars, and space stations with solar system resources and non-fossil fuel energy would remove resource depletion as an issue unless individual power and resource usage escalated millions of times. There would be redundancy in the resources and multiple independent biospheres.

Wars involving space technology between two or more technology advanced groups would be more destructive than even any war involving just our current nuclear capability.

Immortal civilization

If there is no FTL (faster than light) travel, then having colonization starships traveling in different directions at over 50% of the speed of light would be effectively unkillable.

An expanding sphere of interstellar colonization would reach a point where any one threat would not be able to reach all parts of the civilization.

7 thoughts on “Unkillable civilization takes more than near Earth Colonization and Space mining”

  1. A lot of bull, not worthy of serious consideration. All these assertions are unprovable. Is it that one has to regularly come up with some pseudoscience in order to be on payroll? If I had nothing significant to contribute, I would not. Otherwise, we might as well read any of the millions of the same kind of ignorance based opinions that are on the web. Hopefully his other contributions have more depth.

  2. Having read the first few comments, I can only disagree by degree. First, mining the asteroids makes no sense in the short term. The moon has all the minerals needed for a few hundred years, since all those craters are what is left of an asteroid. Agreed that asteroid mining must follow or even develop during the moon mining effort. Both, however, must come about using robotic processes which extracts the mineral and prints a product onsite.
    Space habitation cannot be viable until artificial gravity is provided for the workers and residents. A huge circular rotating habitat will be just fine. Maybe we can lash a bunch of Musk’s big flaming rockets together.

  3. What I find curious about all this concern for human survival is that it seems based on the idea that has been rejected by modern culture: Human beings are special & of exceptional value.

  4. hmm…new comment system.. I don’t know how much more my heart can take.

    they make 100kw flywheels now.. 40 or so of those would fit in your average 3000 sq ft floor. Electrical is doable. I think the vehicle ballistics of shooting and hitting the moon within 100m of target and survivability need to be demonstrated..and that firing it can happen once per hour instead of once per day. even at once per hour, that would probably be too far apart to get payloads on target. Might have to be several per minute..which would keep flywheels off the table.

  5. I take exception to the idea that within 20 years, thousands of humans will be living in space semi-permanently.

    EIGHT years ago, the last US Space Shuttle flew. The ISS space station was first flown in 1997. TWENTY years ago. A can, with multiple add-ons, in 20 years. Its still flying. A can, panels, stinks terribly (apparently), 20 years in the running.

    All I’m saying is that if one bases one’s future predictions off reasonable attainment mileposts of the past (which can be oft-true, and less often terribly wrong), then the trend-line doesn’t warrant “thousands” in space living there, in 20 years.

    It doesn’t.

    Because there is almost nothing “radical” to overcome: the “radical” repricing of earth-to-LEO space tugging a la Musks Big Rocket is very helpful in addressing fiscal funding problems. Making it cheaper to get there. Perhaps. Making it cheaper to launch “stuff”. Sure. Making it less expensive to fly protoplasm (people) to and fro. Sure.

    But that’s not a revolution. its “cheaper”.

    LOOK at my point this way: in 1959 Russian and American space programs managed to lob a single cosmonaut each into space, in what looked like corrugated tin cans. With an amount of investment that was literally breathtaking, America (and the Soviets, apace) went on from Mercury 1-man to Gemini 2-man, to Apollo 3-man missions in a period of only 8 years. 1959–1963 Mercury, 1963–1966 Gemini, 1961–1972 Apollo Moonshot.

    These were literally outrageously complex revolutionary systems, each. Done at a break-neck speed, because of a perceived existential threat of a competing “other”. Russia :: America.

    Revolutionary because it had never been done before.
    Revolutionary because materials science had to advance in lockstep.
    Revolutionary because the energy-mass budget was so tight.
    Revolutionary because the scale had to become so large.
    Revolutionary because computing, communications, sensors all had to be super-miniaturized.
    Revolutionary because everything had to be triplicate fail-safe.

    The Apollo program was no more revolutionary than the Mercury and Gemini programs, except for scale, duration and ultimate payload lofted beyond gravity-return. It was a huge stretch tho for the overall 10 year plan. From “never in space” to “Man on the Moon” in a decade. It also required in constant-dollars about 4% of the entire government budget for that same decade. About 10× what it is today.

    And that was “just” to get a non-reuseable rocket to lob a Lunar command module, a lunar lander, 3 astronauts (and in the end a dune buggy) to the Moon, land, pick up rocks, get everyone excited, then return intact. However, to keep a keen eye on the scale of the enterprise, it was also 2,950,000 kg at lift-off. It lobbed 118,000 kg into LEO. It got 45,000 kg Apollo 16 to The Moon; and a dune buggy. They and their rocks got home.

    The BFR (should it actually be built) is 4,400,000 kg at takeoff. 150,000 kg to LEO “booster-return” mode, or 250,000 kg to LEO in “expendable” (that’s a pretty big cut for return-to-base, don’t you think?)

    In theory then, such a BFR could easily get Moon-missions going; missions with way more “stuff” than just a lander, dune buggy and return-to-earth vehicle. Another 40 tons worth of stuff. Might not sound like much, but that’s a lot of housing, oxygen, loiter-time supplies and tools. Instruments. Housing fab stuff.

    We definitely need something akin to BFR, just to begin the semi-permanent exploration of local space. And even it won’t really be big enough to power the near future, really. What’s really needed is a multi-lobed approach at Earth-to-LEO mass transfer. Mountain-side mass throwers could satisfy a fair fraction of the stowage transport need. If one can lob 5 to 10 tons of stuff from Earth to space in a few 25 G acceleration minutes, electrically propelled … it sure saves on the cost of getting stuff to space.

    The big hurdle there is that (10 G, 1.37 min, 10,000 kg, 8,037 m/s TKO vel) it takes 7.9 gigawatts at the terminus of acceleration to keep moving the thing at 10 G. Even with averaging (should that help?) it takes 4.94 gigawatts, averaged out over the 83 second trip. A LOT OF POWER. How to store? Significant challenge. Sounds like a job for really, really huge flywheels.

    Anyway, now I’m solving problems instead of presenting them.

    Will we GET THE INVESTMENT to push this in 20 years? Push the equivalent of re-doing the NASA Apollo mission scaled up by what, maybe 10×? 25×? Something like that.

    I don’t think Musk’s big flaming rocket is even close to being “the revolution” in this case.
    Just saying.


    • The big difference is that it will be possible to make serious money via asteroid mining in the not too distant future, likely within 20 years.

      History shows that humans can be amazingly creative when it is in their self-interest to do so.

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