Space colonization

Space colonization (also called space settlement or extraterrestrial colonization) is the use of outer space or celestial bodies other than Earth for permanent habitation or as extraterrestrial territory.

Artist's rendering of an envisioned lunar mining facility
Depiction of NASA's plans to grow food on Mars
Artist's rendering of a crewed floating outpost on Venus of NASA's High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC)
The Sun, planets, and dwarf planets

The inhabitation and territorial use of extraterrestrial space has been proposed, for example, for space settlements or extraterrestrial mining enterprises. To date, no permanent space settlement other than temporary space habitats have been set up, nor has any extraterrestrial territory or land been legally claimed. Making territorial claims in space is prohibited by international space law, defining space as a common heritage. International space law has had the goal to prevent colonial claims and militarization of space,[1][2] and has advocated the installation of international regimes to regulate access to and sharing of space, particularly for specific locations such as the limited space of geostationary orbit[1] or the Moon.

Many arguments for and against space settlement have been made.[3] The two most common in favor of colonization are survival of human civilization and life from Earth in the event of a planetary-scale disaster (natural or human-made), and the availability of additional resources in space that could enable expansion of human society. The most common objections include concerns that the commodification of the cosmos may be likely to enhance the interests of the already powerful, including major economic and military institutions; enormous opportunity cost as compared to expending the same resources here on Earth; exacerbation of pre-existing detrimental processes such as wars, economic inequality, and environmental degradation.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

A space settlement would set a precedent that would raise numerous socio-political questions. The mere construction of the needed infrastructure presents daunting technological and economic challenges. Space settlements are generally conceived as providing for nearly all (or all) the needs of larger numbers of humans, in an environment out in space that is very hostile to human life and inaccessible for maintenance and supply from Earth. It would involve much development of currently primitive technologies, such as controlled ecological life-support systems. With the high cost of orbital spaceflight (around $1400 per kg, or $640 per pound, to low Earth orbit by Falcon Heavy), a space settlement would currently be massively expensive. On the technological front, there is ongoing progress in making access to space cheaper (reusable launch systems could reach $20 per kg to orbit),[10] and in creating automated manufacturing and construction techniques.

There are yet no plans for building space settlement by any large-scale organization, either government or private. However, many proposals, speculations, and designs for space settlements have been made through the years, and a considerable number of space colonization advocates and groups are active. Several famous scientists, such as Freeman Dyson, have come out in favor of space settlement.[11]

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