The Technology of Space Settlement
Space pioneers are less likely to be specialists on a "mission"
than they are to be jacks of all trades doing what they must to
survive (or else they are paying customers, but that’s a different
If your aim is real, real high, then you’ll need to stock up
on knowledge in its two forms: book learning and practical experience.
The former is computation of mixtures and pressures for a rocket
motor; the latter is cobbling together parts from two dissimilar
broken motors to make one work. The former is a tabulation of air
mixture, lighting, and nutrient flow rates for green plants; the
latter is getting the damned things to actually grow!
If the books were written, you could simply stack ‘em and crack
‘em, but in an emerging field like this, the information is spread
wide and often disguised as some other discipline. Hence the need
for a conference, where scattered researchers can be gathered to
bend their specialties toward a common target. Eventually the books
will be written, maybe by you?
Where and how are you going to set up housekeeping? Maybe you’ll
dig a trench on the moon, throw a big balloon in it, make moon bricks
and build an arched ceiling over it, and pile on dirt for radiation
shielding. If so, why not start now to learn to make bricks and
build block structures?
Maybe you’ll start in a tin can in Low Earth Orbit, doing zero
gee R&D and small scale production on contract, and keep adding
on to your operation until you’re a colossus. You’d better learn
sheet metal work – cutting, shaping, and welding.
Feel free to start learning what you’ll need to be a pioneer,
even though your launch date might be 30 years away. A new skill
is never wasted in an active, intelligent person. More roustabout,
Tom Jaquish, Program Chair, 1/1/99