I am starting this blog to outline an economic approach to space settlement. Historically human settlement has always been driven by a combination of economics and national security, generally more by the former than the latter. In space, because of the prohibition on national sovereignty in the Outer Space Treaty (1967), economics will be the prime driver.
An economic approach means looking at space settlement from the perspective of economic geography rather than science or engineering as has been the case in the past. The science/engineering perspective looks at settlement from the perspective of how rather than why. Although how is an important perspective it is secondary to why.
Why is more important simply because will be what motivates the investment of time, money and resources in the actual building of settlements in space. Anyone may propose a viable design for space settlement, even High School students as shown in the frequent contests sponsored by space advocates. But designing the business model that will enable it to be built is an order of magnitude more difficult. This blog will focus on the why with the how being driven by the requirements of the business model.
It will also be driven by four books that as a teenager generated and shaped my perspective of space, serving to create its framework for the last half century. This framework has guided my studies, research, and academic career. The first book was Arthur C. Clark’s “Profiles of the Future” which introduced me to future studies and the economic potential of space. The second book is a collection of Isaac Asimov’s essays entitled “Is Anyone There?” which included an essay entitled “There’s no place like Spome” that outlined a viable pathway for human settlement of the Solar System and Galaxy beyond. The third book is Danridge Cole’s “The Challenge of the Planetoids” which discusses a similar pathway to human settlement of the Solar System. The last book is also by Isaac Asimov, a collection of fictional stories entitled “The Martian Way” whose lead novella, sharing the book’s title, illustrates the need to view space settlement from the perspective of the space settlers, not from the perspective of the Earth. I will discuss these four books in more detail in following essays on this blog.